Directed by Mark L. Lester
Starring Bradley Gregg, Traci Lind, Malcolm McDowell, and Stacy Keach.
Running Time: 99 Minutes
When the very first shot of a film is Stacy Keach with his head turned to reveal a white mullet pulled into a rat tail, you can only hope that the rest of the film will live up to the awesomeness of that initial sight. Fortunately, the "youth gone wild" cult classic CLASS OF 1999 not only lives up to the awesomeness of its lead villain having a mullet/rat tail, but it surpasses it. In this opening scene, Keach's character reveals a group of cyborgs who will pose as teachers and infiltrate a gang-infested high school with the intention of laying the smackdown on a bunch of punk kids. But, of course, things don't go as planned, and the cyborg teachers end up abusing their privileges - and the students!
CLASS OF 1999 is obviously set at the turn of the century, except in this film's version of the year 1999, gangs have taken over the United States in a post-Apocalyptic and almost dystopian setting. The cities have been reduced to wastelands, the high schools resemble prisons, and teenagers all look like futuristic members of the Sex Pistols and drive around in modified cars and dirtbikes. You know, your typical 80s post-Apocalypse movie stuff. Except with angry teens instead of Road Warriors in the Australian outback who kill people for gasoline.
The lead character, Cody (Bradley Gregg), has just been released from prison (in the "future", teens are incarcerated just like adults) and returns to school with his gang, the Blackhearts, being considerably lower on his list of priorities. He deals with a younger brother (the weird kid from RIVER'S EDGE and NEAR DARK) who wants to follow in his footsteps, as well as members of both his rival gang and his current/former gang. He also meets a new girl in school, which sets up the love story sub-plot. As it turns out, the girl is the principal's daughter, which obviously creates a problem for our hero.
The cyborg teachers (played by Pam Grier, Patrick Kilpatrick, and John P. Ryan) end up at the school and attempt to blend in as humans very early on in the first act of the film, so there's really no build-up. The film is basically ninety or so minutes of the teachers beating up the students and doing some rather odd shit in general, with leads to the inevitable showdown between the out-of-control teachers and the students who want to stop them. One of the teachers actually puts not one, but two students over his knee and proceeds to spank them in front of the rest of their classmates. This scene of an older man spanking the bottoms of two young adult males is both hilarious and extremely awkward. And, perhaps one of the coolest aspects of the film is that we frequently get to see from the teachers' point of view, which results in this weird Robo-Vision that includes a menu which determines what method of attack each individual cyborg will utilize.
As a whole, CLASS OF 1999 really is a balls-to-the-wall Action movie, except with teens instead of adults. Extreme violence, tons of shit blowing up, motorcycle stunts, drug abuse, and even an almost-rape scene are just a few of the things you'll find in this film. If I were to talk about every single one of the awesome, noteworthy things about the film, I'd basically be reciting the entire movie for you. With the exception of some minor pacing issues towards the middle of the film when the action slows down considerably to make room for some actual developments in the plot, from beginning to end, CLASS OF 1999 is a blast and well-deserving of its cult status. I mean, if you're not already sold on that picture of Stacy Keach seductively eating a banana, then chances are this movie is simply not for you.
Make or Break: My "Make" is the scene where Pam Grier's character introduces herself to her class and then goes on to rough up a couple of disruptive students. Before Ms. Grier stomped a mudhole in the students, however, the film cuts to her Robo-Vision and we're shown that one of her Attack options includes "Karate Moves". From that point on, my heart belonged to CLASS OF 1999.
MVT: In a movie full of MVT's (including the great soundtrack, which I failed to mention earlier), it's really hard to narrow it down to just one thing, but if I had to pick one, it would be Patrick Kilpatrick as the cyborg Gym teacher. Throughout the film, he's so over-the-top and looks like he's on a 'roid rage, but his shitty haircut makes him anything but intimidating. Kilpatrick's shining moment (and one of the film's best scenes, in my opinion) came when he absolutely manhandled Cody in the gym whilst wearing wrestling tights and then proceeded to snap the neck of one of his friends with ease.
Not an amazing or original piece of filmmaking, but well done for what it is and a whole lot of fun. It's a great Saturday night movie. A buzz isn't required, but highly recommended! Class dismissed.