Friday, September 23, 2011

Class of 1999 (1990)

Class of 1999 is one my ultimate guilty pleasure sci-fi movies. It is incredibly cheesy and so over the top, but I wouldn't have it any other way. After all that is just one of the many things that made 80's action films so great.

In 1982, Director Mark L. Lester released the now underground cult-classic Class of 1984. A nasty crime/thriller about gangs, drugs & violence in a high school environment. Lester followed that up with a few successful directing gigs. And eight years later after the release of Class of '84, it's very loosely based sequel was released. Again directed by Lester but comparing the two is almost unfair.

Class of 1999 takes place in Seattle, Washington where gangs have taken control of the city and it's schools. This is an area so bad that the cops do not dare enter. It makes Compton California look like Candyland. Unlike the first film, Class of 1999 is a full on science fiction/horror. It takes bits and parts from films like The Terminator and Robocop. Mix that with recognizable actors from the 70's, a heavy metal soundtrack and the result is pure b-movie gold.

Bradley Gregg plays Cody Culp, the badboy leader of The Blackhearts gang. After just being released from jail, Cody wants to leave his old life behind. However this does not sit well with the other members of his clique, as well as their rival gang The Razorheads. Back at Kennedy High School the new principal in town Dr. Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell) has taken on a new program to rid all gang violence from his school. Led by Dr. Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) and his group of android teachers (one of which is Pam Grier) they have been instructed to teach and discipline all those who oppose. Now if you can't see where this plot is going then you need watch more movies. Unbeknownst to Langford, Dr. Forrest's program is severely flawed. The teachers soon become more violent and hostile towards the students, laying waste to them with no remorse. Once Cody's younger brother is disposed of, that gives him all the reason he needs to join back up with his old mates. And in the end, the two gangs must put all their differences aside to stop these evil droids once and for all.

There is not a single moment in this where it should be taken seriously. After all it is a film about cyborgs battling high school kids. If that sounds silly to you then give yourself a gold star because your absolutely right. The acting is hammy, the dialogue is hilarious at times, meanwhile there is plenty of shit being blown up on the screen. There's even a predictable 'boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy must rescue girl from killer robots' subplot thrown in. It's been reported that the original cut of the film was so violent that it was sent to the MPAA ten times before finally receiving an R rating. There was even a direct-to-video sequel years later entitled Class of 1999 II: The Substitute, but that one offers nothing of value.

So if you require a bit of the old ultra-violence in your choice of film, then seek this one out. Grab some popcorn, kick back and enjoy the ridiculousness happening in front of you. It's available on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

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