The Violent Years

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The Violent Years
The Violent Years poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byWilliam Morgan
Produced byRoy Reid
Written byEd Wood
StarringJean Moorhead
CinematographyWilliam C. Thompson
Edited byGerard Wilson
Distributed byHeadliner Productions
Release date
  • 1956 (1956)
Running time
65 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Violent Years is a 1956 American exploitation film directed by William Morgan and starring Jean Moorhead as Paula Parkins, the leader of a gang of juvenile delinquent high school girls. The film is notable for having an uncredited Ed Wood as the author of its screenplay.


Paula Parkins, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do newspaper editor father and a socialite mother, gets her kicks by organizing and directing a gang of bored young women like herself. The gang dresses in men's attire, robs gas stations, and terrorizes habitués of a local lovers' lane—even raping a young gentleman (off camera) after tying up his girlfriend.

As a newspaperman, Paula's father has some inside information on police plans to capture the gang, so the girls are able to avoid capture with Mr. Parkins' unwitting complicity. After a make-out party with a few local gangsters, Paula and her pals agree to wreck a few classrooms — and destroy the American flag — in a public school at the behest of Sheila, a female crime boss. (It is implied that this is part of an anti-American Communist plot.) The girls perform the job with gleeful competence until the police arrive and a deadly shootout takes place, claiming the lives of two of Paula's gang while Paula shoots and kills a policeman. Seeking refuge from the police, the girls return to Sheila's to demand their payment for wrecking the school. But Sheila, not wanting to be involved or arrested for their crime, starts to call the police until Paula fatally shoots her. While leading the police on a car chase, Paula crashes the car into a store's plate-glass window, injuring her and killing her last gang member. Paula is captured and convicted, then dies in the hospital giving birth to the child she accidentally conceived. The judge in Paula's case denies her parents custody of their granddaughter, based on the neglectful way they raised Paula.

The cynical tag line "So what?" is used repeatedly by the girls to underscore their uncaring, nihilistic attitude.


  • Jean Moorhead as Paula Parkins
  • Barbara Weeks as Jane Parkins
  • Arthur Millan as Carl Parkins
  • Theresa Hancock as Georgia
  • Glen Corbett as Barney Stetson
  • Joanne Cangi as Geraldine
  • Gloria Farr as Phyllis
  • Lee Constant as Sheila
  • I. Stanford Jolley as Judge Clara
  • Timothy Farrell as Lt. Holmes
  • F. Chan McClure as Det. Artman
  • Bruno Metsa as Manny
  • Harry Keaton as Doctor


The film's working title was "Teenage Killers".[2] Although the opening credits indicate that Headliner Productions copyrighted the film in 1956, it is not included in the Copyright Catalog.[3] The Violent Years was actually based on the story by Roy Reid.

In popular culture[edit]

The film was mocked on a 1994 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Subjects for jokes included the occasionally wooden acting, the same car-on-road shots being repeated, and the judge's rambling closing monologue.

The film's soundtrack was sampled by the industrial metal band Ministry in the song "So What" from the album The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS several times, including a release under Rhino's "Teenage Theater" banner- hosted by Mamie Van Doren. The film received several DVD releases of varying quality, one from Something Weird Video, as part of the Ed Wood box set 'Big Box of Wood, and the box set of vintage exploitation films called Girls Gone Bad.

In 2017, the film was released on Blu-ray through a partnership by Something Weird Video and the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) including a commentary track from Frank Henenlotter and Rudolph Grey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Violent Years TCM Notes
  2. ^ The Violent Years TCM Notes
  3. ^ The Violent Years TCM Notes
  • The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1996), documentary film directed by Brett Thompson
  • Rudolph Grey, Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992) ISBN 978-0-922915-24-8

External links[edit]