80’s thrillers often had an element of adults being afraid of what kids were capable of. It was a violent time in places like New York City, gangs were at the height of their powers, vigilantes were in the news and films like The Warriors were instant cult hits. While The Warriors has become one of the most well-known cult films of the era, I have always preferred a lesser known film, Class of 1984 directed by Mark L. Lester (Commando, Firestarter).
Andrew Norris (Perry King) is an idealistic teacher who has just moved into a new home with his pregnant wife and just started a new job teaching at Lincoln High. But as Andrew soon finds out, Lincoln High is a crime ridden cesspool of a school where teachers risk their very lives every day they show up to teach. Especially with a thug like Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) running the school students. But Andrew is determined to win out over the violent offenders and wages an all-out war for the future of the school.
Class of 1984 is so much more disturbing, well made and entertaining than The Warriors for me. I also find The Warriors does not hold up as well nowadays as this film does. Perry King, who I became a fan of when he was on the TV series Riptide in the 80s, is very good as Norris. He imbues the teacher with a glimmer of hope that lasts much longer than it should considering the horrible atrocities he witnesses at the school. But when he finally has had it and decides there is only one way to deal with such criminals, King gives it his all and makes Norris a hero for the average man, someone who has had enough and isn’t going to take it anymore. Which was a theme audiences always seem to respond to regardless of the time they live in. The original story and screenplay was written by genre veteran Tom Holland who also have us the superb Psycho II, Fright Night, Child’s Play and many others. Class of 1984 is sharply written and still has a lot of cultural relevance today. In addition it features a great cast including Lisa Langlois, the incomparable Roddy McDowall, Stefan Arngrim and a very early performance by Michael J. Fox. Oh and did I mention the main theme song in the film is I Am The Future by Alice Cooper? Major street cred there.
The Blu-ray for Class of 1984 is just stunning. Remastered with a new high definition transfer from the original interpositive, the film probably looks better now than it did on screens in 1982. And as per usual with Shout Factory’s incredible Collector’s Editions, this one comes packed with great special features including new interviews with cast and crew, a new career retrospective with Perry King, an audio commentary with the director, a new making of and more. This is a killer new release of a far too often overlooked 80s classic. Highly recommended.
Available April 14, 2015 on Blu-ray.