Sunday, July 10, 2022

MONDAY MORNING (1990) (aka Class of Fear) (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)

aka Class of Fear
Collector's Edition Blu-ray 

Label: MVD Rewind Collection
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: R
Duration: 97 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)  
Audio: English PCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Don Murphy
Cast: Noah Blake, Julianne McNamara, Brandon Hooper, Karl Wiedergott

Highschool is hard enough on a good day, let alone when you have a group of snobby assholes singling you out because your the new kid at the school. Just ask teenager Bobby Parker (Noah Blake, Mystery Men), is a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks with a shit homelife. At the start of the film he's sneaking into the bedroom window of his family's trailer home to get clothes for school - we find out in short order that he's been kicked out of the home after a violent spat with his hard-working blue collar father (Paul Henry Itkin, TV's Days of Our Lives). After another encounter with his dad leaves him with a bloodied lip his mother (Annie O'Donnell, Saturday the 14th) tries to calm tempers but it's clear she's fighting a losing battle, and Bobby swears that he's leaving for good. 

After that Bobby leaves with his best mate Bill (Karl Wiedergott, The Wrong Guys) to Oceana High where we see how unwelcomed they are, but why? Simply because they're "transfers", new arrivals from lower income families, a very 80's trope well-explored in films like The New Kids. The head asshole at the school is the blonde popped-collar preppie named James Hedges (Brandon Hooper, Chasing Mavericks), a gold-jock and the son of the mayor, who is always in the company of his sycophantic suck-ups Chip (Jason Lively, The Night of the Creeps) and Mark (Brian Cole, Mortuary 
Academy). Worsening the situation, Bobby is dating James' sister Noreen (Julianne McNamara, Saturday the 14th Strikes Back) and is caught hanging out with his girls - which drives him insane. 

After a few minor skirmishes with the preps Bobby is involved in an car accident that injures James girlfriend Ginny (Shannon Absher), so James and his pals decide to teach the new guy a lesson he won't soon forget. On a Monday morning the preps force Bobby into the cafeteria where they hold a mock trial, with James pulling out a loaded gun to give him a scare him, but makes a run for it and things go wrong, with a teacher being shot during a kerfuffle. The school is evacuated but the desperate Bobby ends up holding his biology class hostage while he attempts to sort things out so he doesn't take the fall, but his actions are only making things worse. 

The local show up lead by Chief Woods (Fitz Houston, Disco Godfather) who all have itchy trigger fingers, plus the chief's son is one of the kids being held hostage. Inside Bobby tries to convince his classmates of his innocence - all the while that smarmy asshole James tries to lay blame for the shooting at his feet.  

Monday Morning was a direct-to-video thriller that was the directorial debut film (and the only film directed by) big-time Hollywood producer Don Murphy (Transformers, Natural Born Killers, From Hell), it's a bit clunky but it's interesting to see this highschool set thriller at a time when highschool shootings were not so prevalent as they are these days, back when this was made this would have been a novel "can you imagine?" idea, not so much these days, sadly. The film opens and closes with narration that screams we ran out of money and/or we realized this isn't quite the coherent story we had imagined and need to button it up, but it's a pretty fun watch regardless of it's many shortcomings. 

The acting here is a highlight, and not always for the right reason, but it's "heightened" to put it kindly, or over-the-fucking-top and not great to me a bit more accurate. I was loving watching Parker and Hooper as the adversarial main characters  - they're chewing it up big-time - particaurly Hooper who is such a smirking asshole, playing the role usually reserved for the likes of James Spader (The New Kids). I wanted to punch him in the face from the get-go, and the way he flies off the edge and  gets so angry that his sister is dating the "transfer" Bobby is absolutely unhinged. Parker is not quite so over-the-top but he is digging deep and squeezing to come off as the troubled teen delinquent protaganist caught up in a difficult spot - making all the wrong choices when it matters, and worsening his situation. 

Also be on the lookout for appearances from Ricky Dean Logan (Back to the Future II), Marta Martin (Mindwarp), Tom Finnigan (Repo Man), Vincent Craig Dupree (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan) and Lisa Rinna (TV's Melrose Place) as various high schoolers. Something I loved about this, aside from the heightened drama of it all, was how the teens switched sides, being either pro-Bobby or pro-James during the classroom hostage crisis - that seemed pretty accurate to me. 

Audio/Video: Monday Morning (1990) debuts on region-free Blu-ray from the MVD Rewind Collection in 1080p HD widescreen  (1.85:1) with a new HD transfer sourced from the original camera negative. It's a generally attractive presentation, film grain is a bit course but is more or less uniform with vivid well-balanced colors, and some modest depth and clarity. There are visible blemishes like minor print wear, dirt and and some white speckling throughout, but these are minor, mor serious are several video anomalies by way of a horizontal bands which appears to be part of the image from an earlier frame that appear. Only appearing for a fraction of a second I am not sure what would cause this sort of video interpolation, perhaps a corruption of the digitized HD master? Whatever it is it's not ruinous but is unfortunate, marring an otherwise modestly pleasing presentation. You can see an example of it in screenshots #53 at the bottom of the review. 

Audio comes by way of uncompressed English PCM 2.0 mono with optional English subtitles. The fidelity of the  source recording is limited but the uncompressed track delivers it faithfully without any obvious age-related issues, and the score from Bill Johnson sounds good, even if the score is not great. 

Onto the extras, first up is a new 53-minute Interview with writer and director Don Murphy who gets into attending USC, how he made many contacts there that blossomed into a lucrative producing career in Hollywood, and of course the making of this film, writing the script, locations, and the reason for the odd patina of the visuals. Murphy again shows in the archival 24-minute featurette Don Murphy: Portrait of a Producer, which looks like it was produced for the Double Dragon release which gets into the genesis of that video game adaptation as well as touching on his USC days and his student film Monday Morning.   

The last of the extras is a nifty one, the original VHS version of the film under it's alternate title “Class of Fear” in standard-definition 1.33:1 full frame with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, also running 97-minutes long. It's VHS quality, meaning you get a full frame and dupey looking - it makes you appreciate just how good the new HD transfer looks in comparison. 

The single-disc release comes housed in a clear Viva Elite keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring both the original VHS Class of Fear titles and the Monday Morning title. Inside there's a mini fold-out poster with the Monday Morning artwork, and it comes with a limited edition first print run slipcover with the MVD Rewind Collection branding, plus it has that cool retro VHS worn look with rental stickers. 

Special Features: 
- High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 1.85:1 aspect ratio
- Original VHS version with its alternate title “Class of Fear” (SD, 1.33:1, 105 mins)
- NEW! Interview with writer and director Don Murphy (53 min) HD 
- Don Murphy: Portrait of a Producer (24 min) HD
- Reversible Artwork (with alternate 'Class of Fear' title and artwork)
- Collectible Mini-Poster

Monday Morning (aka Class of Fear) might not be a classic teen angst thriller but it's quite entertaining and comes recommended to fans of teen delinquency fare like Over the Edge and The New Kids. I appreciate MVD Rewind Collection for putting a spotlight on it and debuting it on Blu-ray with a decent A/V presentation and some informative extras as this has been a difficult flick to come by for years. 

Screenshots from the MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray: 


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