pissingblood’s grindhouse classic review: Class of 1984

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to educate you all by doing reviews on movies that I come across. Don’t expect anything about the shit showing in a cinema near you though. I plan on reviewing movies that I either enjoy, or despise so much that I want to tell you how much I hate them. Generally these are going to be B-grade or cult films, but I won’t commit to anything just yet. Pretty much anything with over the top violence and sex will do. Here is the first, a forgotten gem from the year 1982… Class of 1984.

movie poster

movie poster

Ever seen that movie about the new teacher at an inner city high school that ends up going to war with the school’s resident gang? Yeah, we all have. That premise for a movie has been used and abused since Blackboard Jungle was made back in 1955. The particular movie I’m referring to though is Class of 1984. It’s considered a grindhouse B-movie classic, but it’s almost too well done to fit into that category.

The opening credit’s role to the soundtrack of Alice Cooper’s – I am the Future, pretty inspired choice considering the underlying message in the film, as much as B-grade movies have messages… Stegman (Timothy van Patton), the spoiled, violent, psycho, pretty boy, leader of the Nihilist punk gang, also uses the line when taunting the idealistic music teacher Mr Norris, (Perry King). King plays a teacher that has come back to the once admirable profession after a hiatus. We aren’t told why or for how long but he seems to be out of touch with how things go down in high schools. At his new position at Lincoln High he’s met by his mentor at Lincoln, the gun touting, drunken biology teacher Terry Corrigan played by Roddy Mcdowall, who was the voice of Snowball from Pinky and The Brain, and just so happens to really love his lab rabbits in this movie. Then we’re introduced to his students which include a young, chubby Michael J. Fox, as Arthur and Stegman. Stegman’s gang never leave his side, which make for a disruptive classroom environment, and one that Norris tries to get under control which puts him in the headlights of Stegman and co. The hatred between Stegman and Norris escalates from there, from almost harmless pranks to rape, murder and cars being properly destroyed. For once, punk is actually portrayed pretty accurately, which seldom happens in these types of films. Teenage Head, who it seems drive teenage girls to whip out their tata’s in the middle of mosh pits, make an appearance in the punk club where the gang operates out of one of the back rooms. Where we discover, besides dealing drugs, they pimp out coke whores from suburbia. I wasn’t even aware that was frowned upon. What else do you do with teenage coke whores from suburbia? The implication that all punks are villainous rabble is a bit cliché, but they have the look and music down pretty well.

teenage head, punk band, class of 1984

teenage head in their film debut

Patton, a legitimate Hollywood heavyweight today, does a fine job portraying the “troubled but brilliant youth”, especially in the scene where he beats himself up to frame Mr Norris. He also has some so-bad-they’re-brilliant lines like, “Life… is pain. Pain… is everything.” With dialogue like that, delivered so dramatically you expect a good ol’ fashion fake-blood bath at any moment. The final show down between Norris and the gang, incited by the rape and kidnap of his pregnant wife, drags out a bit, just too much running down corridors that all look the same and not enough blood, guts and gore. I’ll leave you to watch the film to see if Norris manages to save his wife and himself from the clutches of Stegman’s gang.

class of 1984, timothey van patton, perry king, punk, movie, high school

stegman and gang with mr norris

Compared to other films in the same vein, this movie is actually pretty tame when it comes to graphic violence, nudity and sex. The deaths that occur could have been way more gruesome, and the sex and rape scenes are tame enough for even PG 13 rating today. Even the racism thrown in just to be offensive isn’t that bad. If you’re going to watch this film in the hopes of getting your sick kicks, you might be disappointed. The story and acting by the whole cast are actually good enough to keep you entertained almost to the very end. I’ll rate this movie pretty high for the entertainment value but kind of low on the rest of B-grade attributes that make the genre so epic. Watch it, and enjoy, you can thank me later with sexual favours next time I see you.


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