Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rare Flix: Class of 1999

If someone made a sequel to a film that nobody saw, does it make a sound?  That's the question raised by today's film, the sequel to a film called Class of 1984.  That film was made in 1982...which is kind of silly.  The movie is about a teacher trying to deal with a school full of gangs and violence.  Naturally, they decided to make a sequel...8 years later...and not title it like a sequel.  Fun fact: Terminator was made in 1984.  Class of 1999 features a trio of teachers trying to tame a school full of gangs and violence.  I suppose you're wondering why I brought up Terminator a moment ago, huh?  Well, the teachers are robots.  Yeah, you read that right.  The man that made Commando, Firestarter and Showdown in Little Tokyo made a movie about killer robot teachers.  The worst part: a lot of notable actors appear in this movie, including Malcolm McDowell, Pam Grier, Stacy Keach and Patrick Kilpatrick.  Okay, maybe not that last one so much.  I happen to have a soft spot for the bad guy from Scanner Cop II- sue me.  While I battle your litigation attempts, check out my review of...
The film begins with a long monologue explaining the school violence rose and rose in America.  Apparently they didn't do a good job in Class of 1984, huh?  This escalated in 1997 and the cities surrounding schools- including Seattle, Miami and New York- became war-zones.  You know, I was in school in 1997 and I don't remember that at all!  This leads to a crazy scientist (Stacy Keach with a rat tail and snake-eye contacts) to try out a new program.  He introduces three teachers (Kilpatrick, Grier and It's Alive's John P. Ryan) who are robots that are going to be able to deal with the students.  The Principal (McDowell) goes along with this for the publicity and hopes for success.  We are introduced to our hero, a young man just getting out of juvenile prison.  He spends the whole movie brooding, being angry and talking like Christian Slater- fun.  He is met by his brother (Near Dark's Joshua Miller) and his fellow gang members.  Fun fact: Billy Drago's son appears as one of the gang members.  Surprisingly, he plays a dangerous and crazy guy- it must be genetic!  The guy goes back to school, but only after pointlessly-antagonizing a rival gang.  At school, the three teachers run into student conflict.  Grier beats up some gang members until they quiet down, while Ryan spanks two of them.  Spanked by a robot- that's something new!
As the story continues, the operators of the robots begin to question how safe they are.  This becomes especially notable when Kilpatrick beats up our hero, only to be confronted by his drugged-out friend with a gun.  The man kills the kid, which is glossed over.  The next day, another kid shows up to class high and Ryan forces him to O.D.  Keach's scientist ignores all of this and allows them to keep going, despite some protests from both our hero and McDowell.  During all of this, our hero gets a budding romance done with the one teen not dressed like one of The Warriors, but she turns out to be McDowell's daughter.  By the way, she has no accent- sigh.  After seeing Ryan palm his friend's crucifix, he convinces her to go with him and look for it at the teacher's house.  They discover that all three teachers live in one apartment, have no furnishings and a cabinet full of WD-40.  Naturally, the teachers show up and nearly catch them, although this does set-up a chase scene.  The highly-advanced robots chase our hero and never once comment on the fact that he dropped the girl off.  He manages to get them to crash, but that doesn't stop them.  They enact a complicated plan to get the two gangs to kill each other off.  This involves killing our heroes' brother and blaming it on the gang.  No, not the creepy kid!
A showdown between the two gangs ends in a lot of dead kids, thanks to both themselves and the robots going 'commando' on them.  Ryan even kills a guy by pulling him through a hole in the wall and splitting him in half!  Eventually, McDowell confronts Keach and tells him to pull the robots out of his school...so they kill him.  Grier kidnaps the daughter and sets up a trap at the school.  Unfortunately for her, it's figured out in about ten seconds and our hero gets the gangs to join forces.  It's a good thing to, since the robots sport weapon arms, including a flamethrower hand for Grier, a drill hand for Ryan and Kilpatrick's RPG hand.  After a lot of 'let's get them....now, let's run away,' our heroes eventually pick off the robots.  Ryan gets his head blown out & Grier gets blown up by a combination of gas and her flames.  Kilpatrick is lured outside and run over by the school bus.  After wandering around, Keach corners our heroes and nearly kills them.  Unfortunately for him, Kilpatrick's robot is not dead, finds time to rip off a shot from Terminator and punches a hole in Keach's chest.  Our heroes struggle against him, but eventually run him through with a forklift and pull his head off with a chain.  Where did the kid learn to drive a forklift?  Good question.  The bad guys are all dead though.  The End.
This movie honestly had potential, but is just kind of silly.  So much of the film is hinged upon things that are just too ludicrous to believe.  Robots put in schools to control gangs.  Stacy Keach's freaky, unexplained appearance.  A gang of teens armed with automatic weapons.  Let's ignore the fact that this movie takes place in the future of 11 years ago too, I guess.  The acting is pretty bad from the kids, but the teachers are pretty entertaining.  Keach is...well, odd and McDowell is just pretty bland here.  He shows minor outrage, but can't seem to muster up the energy level to raise his voice or anything.  You couldn't pay him enough money to yell, huh?  The worst performance is the lead teen actor, who talks like a bad impression of Christian Slater.  The whole thing is just ridiculous and kind of annoying.  The special effects are silly, especially in the third act.  Who would equip a robot with a boring drill and hand claw?  The silliest one involves Kilpatrick coming up from the wreckage of the bus.  The whole thing is a blatant rip-off of the full robot reveal from Terminator, but looks much worse.  That film was made in 1984, but this one looks worse...despite being made six years later.  In spite of how silly this whole thing turned out, someone made a sequel: Class of 1999 II: The Substitute.  I sure have high hopes.
Up next, I cover one last film from The Asylum.  This one is about a haunted house...that's actually a tourist attraction.  Stay tuned...

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