Monday, December 15, 2008

Film Review: ROCK 'N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979, Allan Arkush & Joe Dante)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time:
Notable Cast or Crew: The Ramones, P.J. Soles, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Roger Corman, Dick Miller, Clint Howard. Giant mouse FX by Rob Bottin (THE THING, ROBOCOP, TOTAL RECALL).
Tag-line: "Hey, ho, let's go!"
Best one-liner(s): "I'm FIRST in line! and if you don't like it, you can put it where the monkey puts the nuts!"
Best anecdote: Dee Dee Ramone was such a fine thespian that his lines were cut from five down to two, in the dressing room after the concert: "Hey, pizza!" and "Hey, pizza! It's great! Let's dig in!"

ROCK 'N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL is like that friend of yours who's eating salted nuts and licking their fingers while you're riding the subway together. And you're like 'Where did you get those nuts?' And you know what, your friend is eating those nuts out of their nasty lint-lined pocket. And they don't care. And that friend is like this movie- irreverent, random, and lettin' it stuff hang out all over the place. This film is a damned fun time. This is producer Roger Corman and directors Joe Dante and Allan Arkush at the height of their campy, infectiously fun powers. We've got the new evil principal played by Mary Woronov in a performance that would make most drag queens proud.

We got the legendary B-director and actor Paul Bartel as the formerly square Ramones-fan-in-training music teacher.

(And this is yet another of the over twenty collaborations between the legendary Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel (of EATING RAOUL fame) who you're bound to hear much more about on this blog.) We got Clint Howard as the high school equivalent of James Garner in THE GREAT ESCAPE. We, of course, got the Ramones, reveling in the fact they don't know how to act but excel at whipping high schoolers into a frenzy. And, finally, we got P.J. Soles as the incorrigible Riff Randell, who truly is the REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE for her generation,

leading revolts, skipping class, heckling the administration, and finally actually BLOWING UP THE SCHOOL in an act of youthful defiance (with a pyrotechnics shot which the penny pinching Corman continued to recycle, most notably in MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK).

Five stars of high school giddiness and a true last hurrah for 70's B-movies.

-Sean Gill

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