Friday, January 24, 2014

Non-Horror Exploitation: Class of 1984 (1982)

In 1982 director Mark L. Lester, who is probably most known as the director of 1985 action film Commando, created a dark, gritty and stone cold action/thriller about a new teacher trying to fit in at a school that is being runned by violent drug dealers. 

Andrew is a new teacher at an inner city high school that is like nothing he has ever seen before. The students have to go through a metal detector when they go through the front door and everything is basically run by a tough kid named Peter Stegman. Soon, Andy and Stegman become enemies and Stegman will stop at nothing to protect his turf and drug dealing business.

Obviously now in 2014 the concept isn't new anymore. Popular films like The Principal (1987), The Substitute (1996) and Dangerous Minds (1995) basically had the same story to tell, but Class of 1984 was probably one of the first films with the concept and also feels quite unique comparing to other films in this sub-genre. 

I'll be the first to admit that the beginning is somewhat lame. It could have easily come out of some Troma film. The music that is playing during the intro is incredibly corny and way to melodramatic. Also main character Andrew seems a huge douche and the punkers who rule the school act to over the top to take them serious in any way. 

Luckily about 20 minutes in the character of the film changes as it becomes grimmer by the second and even teacher Andrew starts acting like a bad-ass. ''Main Villain'' Peter Stegman is also portrayed really well Timothy Van Patten. With his aggressive attitude he gives the film a lot of bite. The gang gets more violent which leads to more drastic measures by teacher Andrew Norris. Multiple times these actions are pretty brutal and bloody as well. 
The film does well to create a desperate vibe and you really do get the feeling that there is no other solution than to kill all the young, but deadly, kids. 

 Class of 1984 also gets praised a lot for its realism. I don't entirely agree on that actually. We all know that it can be extremely hard to be a teacher in certain areas but I doubt it gets as bad as it does in this film. Not that that is a bad thing though. I didn't hope to see a whole lot of realism and I didn't expect  it. Class of 1984 is exactly what the plot and poster make you think it is.... A very cool 80's revenge flick on a highschool where drugdealers make the rules. 

 Fun Fact
Look for a very young, and somewhat chubby Michael J. Fox in the role of Arthur.

 Much of the graffiti the art director put on the walls of the school for filming was extremely difficult to remove. It caused some trouble when the actual students of the high school used in the film returned to see all of the profanity left on the walls. Ultimately it was all removed though.

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