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Tuff Turf (1985)

aka Tuff Turf

"Meet Morgan Hiller. He's a rebel about to become a hero."

Directed By: 
Details: 112 mins · English · R (USA)


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"Meet Morgan Hiller. He's a rebel about to become a hero."

"...where reputations are earned."


In Tuff Turf, directed by Fritz Kiersch, Morgan (Spader) is a troubled teenager from Connecticut who relocates to Los Angeles with his parents after his father's business goes under. Morgan struggles to make friends, and trouble ensues when Morgan pursues Frankie (Richards), whose boyfriend Nick (Mones) is the leader of a local gang. Morgan soon finds pursuing Frankie comes with consequences. Morgan learns some valuable, hard lessons, and finds out how far he is really willing to go for Frankie's love. Ultimately, Morgan must face Nick and his gang to test the bounds of his honor, and his love for Frankie.

The film begins at night with Morgan exploring the streets of his new neighborhood on his bicycle. The intro sequence features the song "Love Hates" programmed by Jonathan Elias and featuring vocals by Marianne Faithfull. It's a great electronic track with a dark edge, similar in vein to early Ministry (All Day, Halloween) and sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the film; with small sequences of this song occurring throughout the movie.

On a local street in Reseda, CA, Frankie flirts with a business man waiting at a bus stop. She asks the man for change, and he pulls out a money clip full of cash to oblige. As they make small talk, Nick and his gang who've been loitering at a nearby news stand; move in to mug the man. While the mugging is taking place, Morgan rides straight through the middle of it on his bicycle and foils the robbery by snatching a beer from one of the gang members. Morgan shakes it up and sprays beer on another gang member, who then sprays Nick in the face with spray paint; allowing the victim to escape. One final gang member manages to slash Morgan's jacket with a car antenna, but Morgan escapes into the night.

The next day is the first day at a new school for Morgan. Upon leaving for school on his bike, Morgan has a chat with his father; who has just returned from a long night of work as a cab driver. At school, Morgan is quickly chastised by the school security guard, for riding his bike on campus. Nick notices Morgan as they loiter in the school parking lot before classes begin. Nick tells his gang, "I think we're going to school today." Morgan goes to the principal's office to register, and the principal asks Morgan what he plans on doing with his exceptional writing skills. Morgan says he doesn't know, and the principal informs Morgan that he won't put up with any of his prep-school parties; and roof top concerts he's conducted in the past.

Jimmy Parker, a drummer in a local new wave/post punk band "The Crypt", has already caught word of Nick's intention to get back at Morgan for interfering in his business the night before. Jimmy asks his friend Feather for her blade. She says "Why? You're never gonna use it." He replies "Come on, maybe I wanna clean my teeth." She hands over her switchblade, and Jimmy quickly conceals it and heads off to class. In history class, the students are shown gunfighting clips from old westerns. Jimmy is seated behind Morgan and inadvertently opens up the switch blade, startling Morgan. Jimmy then tells Morgan to take it, because it's all over the school about him and Nick Hauser.

After school, Jimmy asks Morgan if he likes music, and would like to come see his band that night down at the warehouse. After respoding that he'll be there, Morgan then sees Nick Hauser riding his bicycle with Frankie on the handlebars. Morgan goes to get his bike back from the gang in the parking lot. The gang are circling Nick and Frankie on the bike, in a classic Mustang and a classic Camaro. The Camaro stops right in front of Morgan and a gang member sprays Morgan in the face with red spray paint. Luckily, Morgan is wearing sunglasses. Nick asks the crowd of students if he should give Morgan his bike back. Nick lays the bike down, and Morgan picks it up. But before Morgan can leave, one gang member drives his car straight at Morgan in a game of chicken. All Morgan can do is squeeze the hand brake on his bike as the car hits the front wheel of his 10 speed, hurling it into the air. When the bike hits the pavement it's mangled and broken. Nick says he's sorry as Morgan carries his bike away on his shoulder.

Back at home, Morgan argues with his mother after she walks into his room and sees his mangled bike. His mother asks if they had insurance and reminds him that the bike cost $500.00 She asks him if it is "happening again." Morgan's father comes in and asks him if the bike can be fixed. Frustrated, Morgan leaves for the warehouse to go see Jimmy's band. While on his walk to the warehouse he sees a Porsche 911 convertible, with the keys in the ignition. At the warehouse, The Crypt (actually a cameo appearance by The Jim Carroll Band) is performing, and the warehouse is filled with teenagers dancing and having a good time. (This sequence features the songs "It's Too Late" and "Voices"; the song "People Who Died" is also heard during a later scene.) When Morgan sees Frankie talking with a friend in between a song, he quickly grabs her and they rush into the crowd. Morgan repetedly asks what her name is. Frankie refuses to say, and asks to be let go. Morgan is persistent though, and each time Frankie tries to run away she somehow ends up back in Morgan's arms.

Nick and his gang show up at the warehouse, and see Frankie dancing with Morgan. Nick tells his goons to get Morgan, but each time they get close to Morgan he spins them around and throws them to the floor. After the song is over, Nick instructs Frankie that the dance is over and tells her friend Ronnie to take her home. Morgan runs after Frankie but only sees her friends driving her away. Nick and his goons catch Morgan as he tries to get in the Porsche to leave. Nick threatens Morgan not to ever go near Frankie again, and this is when Morgan finally learns her name. They beat Morgan up and take the keys to the Porsche. Jimmy runs outside to find Morgan on the ground and asks if he's alright. Jimmy's says "I can't believe they took your car." Morgan replies, "I don't own a car man".

Nick and the gang are tearing up the streets in the Porsche they took from Morgan, until they get pulled over and arrested for driving a stolen vehicle and thrown in jail. The next day, Morgan finds a dead rat in his locker at school, and is confronted by Frankie who tells him his ass is grass when Nick gets out of jail. After school, Morgan is waiting at a bus stop and sees Nick's Camaro. He runs on foot, and the Camaro gives chase. Morgan runs down an alley where he is trapped. He tries to jump a fence but falls to the ground. Much to his surprise it is Jimmy who is driving the Camaro. He explains that Nick's bro called his bro, and Jimmy got the car.

Morgan and Jimmy cruise the streets and Jimmy explains that his brother was in a gang, and he was barred from ever being in one. Jimmy tosses some of Nick's cassettes out the window. They spot Frankie, Ronnie, and Feather at a local burger joint and pull over. Thinking Nick is out of Jail, Frankie grabs Ronnie and runs to the car to get in. To their surprise it's Morgan and Jimmy. Frankie is not happy about the trickery, while Ronnie exclaims "Thank You God" because she has a huge crush on Jimmy. They drive around L.A. for a while, through Beverly Hills and sneak into a country club party to have lunch. When the cover band takes a break, Morgan plays piano and sings Frankie a song.

Later that night, Frankie takes Morgan to a local club where Jack Mack and the Heart Attack are playing and she shows off her dancing skills. When Nick finds out about the night on the town, he has his goons attack Morgan at school the next day in the locker room. After surviving a brutal beating with padlocks wrapped in towels, Nick once again warns Morgan to stay away from Frankie or he'll kill him. That night, Nick bursts into Frankie's room with Frankie's father and a bottle of champagne and exclaims that she has said yes to marry him. Her father is happy, but doesn't know that she never said actually said yes; this is all Nick's controlling way to try and keep a hold on Frankie.

Frankie had already promised to have dinner at Morgan's house, and meet his parents. She keeps her commitment, but the dinner goes bad when Morgan's mom asks about Frankie's mom, who is deceased. Frankie leaves despite Morgan's pleas that his mother didn't know. Nick and his goons then find Frankie walking down the street and decide to drink it up and cruise the streets all night. Nick sees Morgan's dad looking at a map on the hood of his cab, and lies about being out of gas. He hands Frankie his watch and tells her to ask the cab driver for some money for the watch. But after realizing it's Morgan's father, she gets back in the car and tells Nick she can't do it. Nick asks why and says, "It's because that's Hiller's father over there isn't it?" and "Maybe you should have thought about that before you got involved with him." Frankie runs over to Morgan's father and tells him to go, but it's too late and Nick's gang attacks Morgan's father. Morgan's father beats them down one by one, and even punches Nick. But Nick pulls a gun and shoots Morgan's father. Nick and the gang flee, leaving Frankie there with Morgan's wounded father on the sidewalk.

Morgan meets Frankie at the hospital when he comes to see his dad. She breaks down in his arms, and they go back to Morgan's house. They make love as the sun comes up in Morgan's room. Later that day, Nick comes into Frankie's father's liquor store. Nick beats up Frankie's father, and makes Frankie call Morgan. Nick tells Morgan to meet him at the warehouse. Morgan goes to Jimmy's house to try and get help. Jimmy is not home, so Morgan leaves a note with Jimmy's brother.

Morgan sneaks into the warehouse and slowly takes out Nick's gang one by one. Jimmy shows up with two doberman pinchers, but gets shot in the leg by Nick. Morgan then has a final fight with Nick in order to save Frankie and during the fight, Nick gets hit off the stairs and falls to his death.

During the credits, we see Morgan and Frankie walking into the club they went to before together.

Release Dates:

DVD : 2001-03-12