Sunday, April 5, 2015

Class of 1984 (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Beware the Savage Jaws of 1984

Recently a buddy of mine told me that he some punk ass kids were throwing rocks at this window while hiding in bushes behind his house. It wasn’t once. It wasn’t twice. It was frequent. This included calls to the police who were “powerless” to stop these guys from damaging my friend’s property. In one of the more recent attacks the kids broke the damn window which could have done some serious damage to my friend’s family. In talking to him I offered many a solution to this problem, all of them violent having been trained in the art of 70’s cult cinema justice, and then I said told him about Class of 1984 which seemed to fit his situation the best. A young group of kids, a gang of sorts, with a  mission… to torment without mercy good people. Relentless. Unafraid of the repercussions of their actions. I urged him to watch the movie and take notes as to how one might handle a seemingly unstoppable attack on this house and family. Mind you or course the last time I had watched Class of 1984 was on 35mm at Exhumed Film’s ExFest last year, but lo and behold the new Scream Factory Blu-ray came in the mail immediately following the conversation. I rewatched it, and then I called him back to tell him that it would be okay if he decimated their red Mustang, but perhaps to avoid cutting off their arms or lighting them on fire.

Class of 1984 is as relevant now as it was when it was first released. The same problems plague well meaning teachers who are on the front line of a strange battle with youth. The same tactics are employed whether it be students understanding the limitations of a teacher disciplinary authority or a rather sophisticated game of passive aggressive brinksmanship, kids know how to get teachers in trouble, how to rule the school and how to commit criminal acts with their apparent innocence as a cloak to their parents and the police. What teacher hasn’t imagine taking matters into his own hands to seek justice and unburden the marginalized, “good kids”?  Some of these school are demilitarized zones. Some are prim and proper with narco underground regimes spilling money into lockers as if Scrooge MacDuck himself got into the drug biz. Say nothing of the school shootings, stabbings and hate crimes not to mention the buzz word du jour, bullying. Kids have it tough. Teachers have it touch and sometimes the A-Team isn’t around to save the day. There are no real life Dirty Harry’s at your public high school to save you from the wild world of sports known as juvenile delinquency.

Take that notion and then offer your favorite educator Class of 1984. A movie that understands the difficulty in being a public figure at the mercy of an intelligent, internet savvy, entitled youth population. This movie will likely strike close to home with them in some way great or small. For parents, this might be the time to watch and listen and then realize that your child isn’t the honor student you though he was (maybe… I’m sure there are plenty of good eggs). No one is saying that a teacher should go into a classroom with a gun and teach with a pistol in hand of course. We’re simply saying that the frustrations  and fears of teachers are real. This movie is on a fundamental level, a statement of truth and that despite a sequel that didn’t quite live up to the merit of the original that laid out changes that have happened since 1984 release, no update was necessary. The issues are the same.

The movie itself is wonderful from the 80’s high school aesthetic turned dark and gloomy. These are the punks of your nightmares turned into evil caricatures of themselves. I remember my friends having this same uniform, the same attitude and the same basic feel as the gang fronted by Peter Stegman with one fundamental difference. My friends were fun and funny and, aside from some petty vandalism, were quite harmless. The war that ensues between Mr. Norris and Stegman’s rabble is monstrous and no holds barred. For awhile you can laugh at Class of 1984 until you can’t, until it becomes dark and feels a little too real thanks to some over the top performances that are so gonzo you believe them. While I love Perry King playing the lead good guy in Norris, the character played by Roddy McDowall as the science teacher whose last straw has just been pulled is tremendous. The dialogue that man delivers is something of magic, emotive and sad. It’s one of my favorite roles for McDowall next to his work in the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.  Get ready for some exquisite violence and a shocking ending that shows why  1984 one of the pitch perfect revenge-sploitation films.

There are plenty of new extras for this release including interviews with Mark Lester, Perry King, actresses Lisa Langlois and Erin Noble as well as Lalo Schifrin (the composer).  Your obligatory TV spots, still gallery and trailer are included as well as an audio commentary with Lester and some older interviews with Lester, King and Merrie Lynn Ross. This is a collector’s edition with reversible artwork and newly commissioned art with slipcover. It’s a great looking disc with no immediate issues to report though I cannot comment on how much of an upgrade it would be from the previously released DVD, it looked damn fine with comparing it to the film print I saw a year ago.

Full extra list:

  • New High-Definition Transfer Of The Film From The Interpositive
  • New Interviews With Director Mark Lester, Actors Lisa Langlois And Erin Noble And Composer Lalo Schifrin
  • New Career Retrospective Interview With Perry King
  • Audio Commentary With Mark Lester
  • Blood And Blackboards Featurette – Featuring Interviews With Director Mark Lester, Actors Perry King And Merrie Lynn Ross
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery

If you have kids and want something to scare the shit out of you, pick up Class of 1984. If you’re  a teacher or future teacher and you want to see just how bad it could be, see Class of 1984. Fans of punk rock music, punks and rebels without a clue, see Class of 1984.  This is a great release, and is sure to impress serious fans and newcomers alike. It will jar you and excited you and fill you with intense hatred. You’ll want revenge. You’ll get your revenge!

Note: Michael Fox in an early role minus the J. Check out that babyface.

Pick up Class of 1984 now from Scream Factory:

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

Andrew Norris (Perry King, Lipstick, Mandingo), an idealistic and naive music teacher, has moved into a new community with his pregnant wife, Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross, General Hospital), only to find his new job is an academic abyss. Appalled by the crime-infested school, Norris soon crosses paths with its teenage kingpin, the shrewd and sadistic Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten, Catacombs, Zone Troopers). With Norris setting his sights on reforming Stegman and the young punk declaring war on his teacher, the duo is on a collision course for a fateful showdown.

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