Thursday, November 19, 2009
Random Film Review #2: Class of 1999 (1990)
In the not too distant future (or as of this writing, approximately 10 years ago) certain areas around major cities have become so dangerous that they are characterized as "free-fire zones" and the police refuse to enter. There is no law. A high school in Seattle has decided to reopen its doors in one of these zones with the help of 3 new teachers, all modified military robots who have been brought in to straighten out the ruffians by any means necessary. Lots of things die.
As I wrote last month in my review of Class of 1984, this is a sequel of sorts though it shares little with the original outside of a few vague thematic points. Whereas 1984 attempted, and more than often succeeded, at conveying important points on the growing state of unrest in American schools, 1999 is pure schlock and exploitation at its finest. Our hero, Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg, doing the best he can at being a poor man's Corey Feldman) is released from prison and ready to go straight, much to the consternation of his old gang, the Blackhearts. At the same time, we are introduced to the robo-educators (Pam Grier, Patrick Kilpatrick and John P. Ryan, the last of whom really seems to be relishing his role) who waste little time disposing of the most drug-addled of the youth and then turn their attentions on pitting the Blackhearts against their rivals, the Razorheadz by making it appear that they are wasting each other. In the end, the gangs join forces and demand battle royale against the system. We also get the treat of Malcolm McDowell as the apprehensive new principal (though he is basically phoning it in) and Stacy Keach as the lead scientist presiding over the operation and sporting the future of rat tail hairstyles.
To be fair, I have found that the majority of my favorite films are ones that I remember fondly from my youth so its difficult to say how much impact Class of 1999 would have were I to view it for the first time today, but as it stands, everything works for me. The acting is purposefully atrocious, the dialogue forced ("You might as well stick your dick in a meat grinder, Cody.") and the effects are as good as can be for the low budget provided. Still, there is not a wasted scene nor does the action, once it begins, let up for a second. Fans of unnecessary gore should also take note as there is an abundance of messiness.
A few other moments of note:
-Our hero's full face stretched disapproval of his family's drug addiction: "You're all fucking...PATHETIC!"
-The discovery of an entire cabinet full of WD40 in the townhome the robo-educators share.
-The "War Zone," a place in which the Blackhearts and Razorheadz meet to wage battle that is full of conveniently placed cover and for good measure as each gang is packing enough assault weapons and explosive devices to stage a small revolution. (Nevermind the fact that they sit just feet apart from one another day in and day out at their school).
-Some truly Schwarzenegger-esque one liners (which should surprise no one seeing as director Mark L. Lester helmed Commando a few years earlier): "Have a good stretch, Coach."
-And of course, Cody Culp's highly inspiring cry for unity: "Inside this school are three inhuman teaching monsters, the ones running this game. They kidnapped my girl. They killed Sonny, Reedy, Mohawk and Noser and Angel...You gotta know who your real enemies are. Now I'm gonna go in there and waste some teachers, are you with me? (It is at this moment, while viewing with friends, that a single tear will roll down your cheek so be sure to wipe it away before anyone notices).