Monday, April 6, 2009

Film Review: CLASS OF 1984 (1982, Mark L. Lester)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 98 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Roddy McDowall, Perry King, Michael J. Fox, writer Tom Holland (who wrote CLOAK AND DAGGER, and wrote and directed CHILD'S PLAY and FRIGHT NIGHT).
Tag-lines: "We are the future!... and nothing can stop us."
Best one-liner: " Come and get it, teacher teacher!"

How would you like it if you were just sitting there on your couch, minding your own business, watching GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, and then BAM!, Robert Donat crawls out of the TV and punches you in the mouth! If that sounds like a swell evening to you, then you are gonna get a big kick out of CLASS OF 1984. Proudly following in the tradition of high school-sploitation from HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL to MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH, it delivers B-movie thrills, ridiculous punk fashions, drug trips, violent deaths, and an inspirational concert worthy of MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS......IN HELL!!!

It's pretty inconceivable that this brutal, gritty exclamation point of a movie came from the director of the white-bred, boring ROLLER BOOGIE. This isn't about kids at school- it's about Neo-Nazi punks in a graffiti-laden concrete husk! There aren't clashes between teachers and students– in this movie, it's outright WAR!

Roddy McDowall packs heat and holds biology class at gunpoint!

Student vs. teacher above an industrial arts table saw! Michael J. Fox gets shivved!

The deck hasn't been this stacked this high against a movie’s villains since DIRTY HARRY. The punk kids here are murderers, rapists, pimps, thieves, junkies and basically anything and everything you can imagine.

A typical after-school scene: a girl walks into their hang-out wanting to join up with them. They make her strip, inspect her, have sex with her, and then another gal speaks up- "She'll hook for us." WHAAAAAAT?!

But there's depth, too. Teachers feeling the ultimate, boiling frustration of being unable to teach, make good, or even make an impact. Roddy (who gets extra points for doing much of his own stunt driving) delivers some heartbreaking monologues that actually hit home. Ultimately, I imagine this offers a great deal of catharsis to teachers who secretly wish they could perpetrate some serious violence on the hooligans in their midst! Four stars.

-Sean Gill

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