Class of 1984 (1982)
By: David Michael Brown on August 12, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Big Sky Video (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. 94 minutes
The Movie
Director: Mark Lester
Starring: Perry King, Timothy Van Patten, Michael. J. Fox, Roddy McDowall
Screenplay: Tom Holland, Mark Lester
Music: Lalo Schifrin
Tagline: 'We are the future!... and nothing can stop us'
Country: USA
Mark Lester's Class of 1984 is a classic piece of exploitation that wears it influences proudly on its bloody ripped sleeve. A Clockwork Orange and the Sixties protest film The Blackboard Jungle both loom large in this vengeful tale of school retribution that pulls no punches.

Perry King plays Andy Norris, a music teacher who wants to give his students a good start in life. Timothy Van Patten stars as Peter Stegman, the leader of a gang of high school punks who will stop at nothing to prevent this. Things escalate from bullying and dealing in drugs to rape and murder as the gang go wildly out of control. Norris finally cracks when they rape and kidnap his wife and blood is soon running red down the school corridors as Norris dismembers, burns and hangs his former students.

Fans of Michael. J. Fox will be amused to see their young hero being beaten up, stabbed and saying no to drugs. Roddy McDowall brings a human side to the proceedings as a biology teacher who cracks and resorts to holding his students at gunpoint to make them learn. The rest of the cast are uniformly good, Perry and Van Patten in particular throw themselves at the film. Patten is an intensely evil kid who deserves everything he gets but looks more like a member of a dodgy Eighties new Romantic Band than his punk gang. You just couldn't imagine members of the Sex Pistols hanging out with the lead singer of Duran Duran.

Lester, an exploitation veteran of films like Truck Stop Women handles the action with aplomb. The film is full of violence, swearing, sex, and even a dodgy theme tune by Alice Cooper. Class of 1984 caused quite a fuss when it was originally released and was cut by censors all around the world. There was a lot of criticism that the film was far too nihilistic in its view of schools in the near future. Watching it now the world has caught up with the film, metal detectors are quite commonplace in many New York schools and armed guards regularly patrol the corridors. Class of 1984 seems to have become prophetic in its old age.
The print looks fabulous; the film obviously had a fairly low budget but the transfer looks clean and sharp.
Thankfully mixed in 5.1, the Lalo Schifrin score has never sounded better. The surround track really works well in the final scenes as the gang terrorise and taunt their teacher.
Extra Features
For starters you get a colour 14-page booklet featuring an extensive interview with Mark Lester by David Grove. It's a welcome addition in these days when you rarely even get an insert in most DVDs. You also get a great running commentary by the director, a stills gallery and a trailer.
The Verdict
A violent blast from the past, watching Class of 1984 took me back to the halcyon days of the video nasty when exploitation films were king. Looking past the sensationalistic aspects of the film there is also a message to be told that lends the film a social resonance that seems even more relevant today. Add to this a great performance by Roddy McDowell and the gory finale and you just can't go wrong. Great stuff!
Movie Score
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