Sunday, September 15, 2013

Class of 1984

Never start a job at a new school. That's the teacher's mistake in this film. Everything was fine before a new guy showed up and rocked the boat by demanding normal human behavior. Never try to teach music to punk rockers who aren't even in your class. 

An M. L. Lester film, Class of 1984 is considered a classic of punk rock cinema, and for good reason. It's right up there with the Quincy punk episode. But in tone, it's much more Vigilante than Repo Man, so don't expect wacky shenanigans.

For a movie about a gang of punk rockers, of course you want a punk rock icon like Iggy Pop Billy Idol Richard Hell Alice Cooper to do the theme song. 

There are two main good kids that the teacher considers his allies: Michael J. Fox and a girl who can't seem to get a decent haircut. And nothing is more hilarious to a classful of high school band dorks than Michael J. Fox making irreverent puns. But there are just too many 30-year-old high schoolers who listen to punk rock one time in the film for the new teacher to contend with.

Then the twist comes in: one of the punk rockers, in addition to being an asshole, is a gifted pianist. BIG SURPRISE. Like assholes and pianos don't go hand in hand. But that plot spur goes nowhere.

Then a kid takes some angel dust (AKA whack) and decides he loves America. Climbs a flag pole and winds up dead (but I won't spoil the how for you). The teacher knows that something has got to be done to stop these drug dealing punks once and for all.


Then it gets serious: Roddy McDowall makes a move on the teacher and they go for a drink. Big mistake.Someone is going to get hit in the face (the teacher). Someone's car is going to get blown up (the teacher's). A cop informs the teacher it is impossible to prosecute minors, unless you are holding their hand.

Then it's like a scene out of Fight Club. A kid is pretending he's Ed Norton beating himself up in a highschool wash room. There's blood everywhere, especially all over the teacher's hand. But do they suspend the kid? The teacher? NO! No one is suspended. Justice is impossible; it's the early 80s. The only justice is STREET JUSTICE.

Things get personal.

Things get out of hand. "That is [Roddy McDowall] in there. That's not a maniac killer."  But I have to admit, his car stunts are pretty good.

Table saw death. Burning alive death. Crushed by falling car death. Bunny rabbit death. Tchaikovsky. This movie really has got it all. If only the teacher could have taught music to punk rockers, maybe this would all have turned out different.


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