Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CLASS OF 1984 (1982)

CLASS OF 1984 (1982) 

Label: Scream Factory 
Release Date: April 14th 2015 
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Mark Lester
Cast: Merrie Lynn Ross, Roddy McDowall, Michael J. Fox, Lisa Langlois, Perry King, Timothy Van Patten, Stefan Arngrim, Erin Noble, Neil Clifford, Keith Knight 

The '80s cult-classic Classic of 1984 (1982) scared me beyond belief in the early 80's, the nihilistic vision of urban decay and violence in the classroom were the stuff of nightmares for me. I was only in middle school at the time this is exactly what I imagined would be waiting for in high school, though it turned out that this could not have been further removed from my own experience, but that little fact didn't prevent me from stressing out about it. This was a very affecting film for me and I probably caught it at just the right time for it to have the most most complete affect on me. 

In the film Andrew Norris (Perry King, Big Love) is the new music teacher at inner-city high school Lincoln High. The school overrun with unruly youth, drugs and violence. Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten, Catacombs) is the charismatic leader of a group of punkers comprised of Drugstore (Stefan Arngrim, Fear No Evil), Barnyard (Keith Knight, Meat Balls), Fallon (Neil Clifford) and the lone female of the group Patsy (Lisa Langlois, Deadly Eyes), the latter of whom is a true vision of punk girl naughtiness, a very bad girl with shocks of pink hair and an awesome '80s punk aesthetic. 

Walking into this urban jungle of a school nice guy teacher Norris is taken aback by the unruly and violent students who show not one ounce of respect for the teaching staff. On his first day he befriends science teacher Terry Corrigan played my genre veteran Roddy McDowall (Fright Night), after years of abuse Terry has given up any hope of  getting through to the students but the idealistic Norris refuses to give up, does his level best to develop meaningful teacher-student relationships. Peter and his crew prove to be quite a menace for both the teacher and for his star pupils, particularly band students Arthur (a very early Michael J. Fox) and Deneen (Erin Noble). Arthur's best friend scores drugs from the gang which leads to him falling to his death from atop a flagpole, an event which sets in motion an escalating series of altercations ending with a murderous finale during an orchestra performance at school. 

Perry King turns is a solid performance as the good natured teacher who is pushed to the edge by the violent punkers who brutally rape his wife before kidnapping her. After which Norris flips the switch and becomes a serious revenge seeking badass, setting punks on fire and sawing  off limbs in the woodshop, brutal stuff and way darker than I had remembered it to be. There is one scene that always make me laugh a little, when punker Patsy taunts Norris in the hallway and squeezes her titty in a mocking gesture, a quirky scene that has just stuck with me through the years. 

Norris is not the only teacher pushed to the breaking point by the gang, Roddy McDowell goes off the deep end when the punks break into his lab and kill his rabbits, after which he cracks and holds his classroom at gunpoint before attempting to run the thugs down with his car, which doesn't end so well for him, the vile punkers gather round the ensuing inferno and celebrate his death. 

Directed and co-written by Mark L. Lester (Commando), Class of 1984 has original story and screenplay co-written by Fright Night (1985) writer/director Tom Holland and benefits from a strong cast of characters inhabited by some very good young actors. Notably Timothy Van Patten is fantastic as the charismatic head of the gang, he's definitely one of the great assholes of '80s high school cinema. 

The movie features a decent rock tinged score from composer Lalo Schifrin (THX-1138) and the song "I Am the Future", a fairly awful synth tune performed by classic rocker Alice Cooper from his nuwave Zipper Catches Skin album. There is some redemption as we do get a live performance clip from he Canadian punk rock group Teenage Head during which we are treated to scenes of teenage punks slam dancing and a snarling punk chic baring her titties for the band.

Audio/Video: The nihilistic Class of 1984 debut on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer framed in widescreen (1.78:1) with a pleasing amount of natural film grain allowing for some damn decent fine detail and some clarity, quite a nice upgrade from the Anchor Bay DVD, it definitely benefits from the new HD transfer afforded it. Color saturation is strong an natural looking, the school looks plenty run down and gritty as it should. The black levels are deep and inky and skin tones look authentic without any ruddiness. 

The disc comes with the option to watch with English DTS-HD MA 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1 with optional English subtitles. Not surprisingly the surround mix is pretty front-centric with discreet effects and the Lalo Schifrin score providing some additional ambiance through the surround. 

Onto the extras we begin with the Blood And Blackboards Featurette ported over from the Anchor Bay DVD as is the audio commentary with director Mark Lester and Anchor Bay DVD Producer Perry Martin. Scream have stuffed this one with over an hour of new interviews with Director Mark Lester, Composer Lalo Schifrin, Actors Lisa Langlois And Erin Noble and an expansive forty-seven minute career retrospective with star Perry King who speaks about lessons learned from his father and the various directors and actors he's had the privilege to work with through the years, plus condemning a TV Guide reporter who once wrote an article that portrayed him as being ashamed of playing a gay character in a film before going on to discuss his turn in the TV series Riptide. 

The still very cute Lisa Langois speaks of wanting to be cast against type as the fatalistic punk rock chic and of being nearly beat down by the extras at the punk show. Unfortunately the Erin Noble interview is marred by some inferior audio making it sound boxy and clippy. Leading man Perry King covers most if not all of his films including is turn on the '80s TV series Riptide of which I was a huge fan as a kid.  

The disc extras are capped off the original trailer, a few TV spots and a still gallery featuring promotional still, poster art and VHS covers. As with all the Scream Factory Collector Edition Blu-rays this one comes with a slipcase with new artwork by graphic designer Justin Osbourne, which is also features on the sleeve of reversible artwork.

Special Features

- NEW High-Definition Transfer Of The Film From The Interpositive
- NEW The Girl Next Door - Interviews with Actors Lisa Langlois And Erin Noble (16 Mins) 
- NEW History Repeats Itself - Interviews with Director Mark Lester and Composer Lalo Schifrin (21 Mins)
- NEW Do What You Love Career Retrospective Interview With Perry King (47 Mins)
- Audio Commentary With Mark Lester and Perry Martin
- Blood And Blackboards Featurette – Featuring Interviews With Director Mark Lester, - Actors Perry King And Merrie Lynn Ross (36 Mins)
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins)
- TV Spots(1 Mins)
- Still Gallery (56 Images) 

Class of 1984 (1982) manages to hold-up surprisingly well after thirty plus years, and it  actually turned out to be a somewhat prophetic vision of classroom violence and urban decay that is not too far removed from the sad reality nowadays. A classic slice of '80s violent classroom cinema and the Scream Factory Blu-ray gets a gold star for offering up brand-new hi-def transfer with a wealth of satisfying new extras, a high recommend for both fans and newcomers.