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Our film critic dives deep with his love for Class of 1999

Awesome Absurdity

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After watching Class Of 1999, I was alive with more pleasure than a Chick-fil-A employee smoking a Newport. It's a film that deserves constant rotation on a channel like Comet. Mark L. Lester's 1990 film, a semi-sorta sequel to his own Class Of 1984, is a mix of cyborg craziness and teenage pre-grunge angst ... and holy shit are the kids angsty in this film.

I discovered this movie on DVD while wading through one of those budget DVD bins at Wal-Mart. I didn't think a random trek to The Big Blue for Tidy Cats litter and Belvita Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits would yield such a reward. There aren't enough words to express how much I enjoy this movie but I'll try.

Thanks to a text intro, read by a futuristic android voice, we learn that the gang-controlled areas around Kennedy High — in Seattle no less — are about to get some new teachers to reopen the schools and control the gangs.

With that, we meet Dr. Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach) as he extols the virtues of his very late '80s sounding company, MegaTech, and its super-teachers. It's fairly safe to say that Dr. Bob may be a bad guy. In fact, there is no "may" about it. He's two shades away from muahahaha-ing. All you have to do is look at the guy. I try to base my opinion of a person solely on their looks but when a man with white eyes and a silver crewcut/rat-tail speaks, I worry. I worry even more when he says his super-teachers run on the latest X-T6 hardware at, holy shit, one million megabytes (a.k.a. one terabyte). The pipe smoking history teacher (John P. Ryan), the overly genial science teacher (Pam Grier), and the menacing phys ed teacher (Patrick Kilpatrick) seem normal until one decides to lift his mouth over his whole head to reveal robotic hardware. It should be enough to give any principal, even one as desperate as Principal Langford (Malcolm McDowell) pause but, since this is a sublimely over-the-top sci-fi film like Class Of 1999, that ain't happening.

Meanwhile, across the way high school ex-con Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) heads back to school with his druggie brothers, Blackheart gang members Sonny (Darren E. Burrows) and Angel (Joshua John Miller). Cody's bros are hooked on snorting Edge, a drug that, according to Sonny, is the best thing since that other future drug, Skin. In the midst of snorts, they engage in a future car chase/gun fight with their sworn enemies, the Razorbacks, through dystopian squalor. Not one day into freedom, Cody — a guy more emo than a My Sunny Day Confessional lyric — gets in a fight with his old gang, has a tantrum after watching his mom (who looks maybe five years his senior) steal Angel's stash of Edge, flirts with the principal's clueless daughter (Traci Lin), and watches his best buddy, Mohawk, get his neck snapped by the phys ed teacher.

VESTRON INTERNATIONAL GROUP
  • Vestron International Group

Where oh where to begin? Lester's loony film is an urban nightmare of youth gone wild that harkens back to the high school delinquent films of the '50s while proudly ripping off films like The Terminator, Mad Max, and Robocop. You could ask how any character can have such a quick emotional recovery after watching his friends killed by super-teachers.

You could ask, "Why go to school if you, as a delinquent youth, have the run of your own little dystopian village?" You could ask, "Is the principal's daughter supposed to be a likable poor little rich girl? She seems like an asshole." Case in point: when Cody, who had just an hour earlier rescued her from a wince-inducing assault by a Billie Joe Armstrong looking jagoff, watches his phys ed teacher break his best friend's neck she makes a heartless comment about his friend deserving it. Thankfully Cody fires back, "Quit thinking about yourself! I just watched one of my best friends die!" and later with "You really are the principal's daughter ... if you'd open up those suburban eyes you'd see what's going on."

Actually, this movie is filled with exclamations like "Reach down the back of my pants!", "These things are like a bad fucked up George Jetson nightmare!!!", "Back in middle school, you kicked ass!", and my personal favorite involving an argument between a mother yelling to her son,"Find your own drugs!"

There are so many unforgettable scenes in this ridiculousness. Even the movie's key song by Pancho D. Rock, "Death And Destruction," deserves a mention. Ever seen a super-teacher robo-spank bad teens? It's here! Ever seen high school badasses slowly and pointlessly ride their large unyielding motorcycles through a cluttered classroom? It's here! Ever seen a rat-tailed, white-eyed Stacy Keach menacingly eat a banana? It's here! What about juice boxes, studded belts, Blossom hats, and slamdancing while firing off machine guns? It's fucking here dude!

Everyone from the genre vets to the up and comers seem like they're having fun with the film's dated absurdity. Hopefully it will give you the same pleasure it gave me.

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