Class of 1984 & Class of 1999 | Mark L Lester’s cult high school thrillers make an explosive return – on Blu-ray

From 101 Films and Lionsgate UK comes a double-bill of high school trouble with the Limited Edition Blu-ray releases of Mark L Lester’s futuristic high school thrillers, Class of 1984 and Class of 1999.

Idealistic music teacher Andy Norris (Perry King) moves to the inner city with his pregnant wife Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross) and is shocked to find his new school is plagued by drugs and violence. Refusing to turn a blind eye like his fellow teachers like science master Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowell), he soon clashes with gang leader Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), setting off a chain of escalating events that puts himself and his wife in mortal danger…

Class of 1984 is one of the seminal cult movies of the 1980s and is director Mark L Lester’s contemporary take on the 1955 delinquent drama The Blackboard Jungle. Scripted by Tom Holland (who had just completed The Beast Within and The Initiation of Sarah), it still packs a punch after all these years.

Van Patten’s pretty boy Stegman and his gang (which includes a Stefan Arngrim from Land of the Giants fame) may look cartoonish in their Starlight Express-looking faux punk gear, but the bullying that they inflict on fellow students (including a chubby Michael J Fox) is all too real and still very relevant today – as is the drug-dealing, sexual grooming of underage children, and the wanton acts of physical ‘and mental’ assault on teachers. Alice Cooper supplies the theme song, I Am the Future, Roddy McDowall’s meltdown will break your heart, and it still has one of the coolest poster designs of the era.

Class of 1984 makes it UK Blu-ray debit from 101 Films with this Limited Edition release, and it looks and sounds terrific – boasting some great extras…

Life is Pain… a brand-new career retrospective interview with writer Tom Holland (Fright Night)
And Pain is Everything: An interview with director Mark L. Lester
• Audio commentary with director Mark L. Lester
Do What You Love: A career retrospective of Perry King
History Repeats Itself: An interview with director Mark Lester and composer Lalo Schifrin
Blood and Blackboards: Interviews with cast and crew
Girls Next Door: Interviews with actors Erin Noble and Lisa Langlois
• Trailer and TV spots
• Stills gallery
• Collector’s booklet

Lester’s sequel, Class of 1999, is also getting a new term on Blu-ray, as it joins Lionsgate UK’s Vestron Collector’s Series.

It’s 1999, and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some US schools have become ‘free fire zones’ into which not even the police will venture. When principal Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell) decides to take his Seattle school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) steps in and introduces three android educators. But when the units revert to their original military programming and turn deadly (equipped with some powerful state-of-art weapons), former Blackhearts gang member Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) must join forces with the rival Razorheads to stop the ensuing carnage…

I don’t recall seeing this first time round, but Lester’s futuristic sequel ain’t half bad. Yes, its all very cheesy, with more hideous Mad Max meets Flashdance costuming, cartoon violence and scenery chewing acting (I’m looking at you Stacy Keach! with your mullet and contacts), but it moves at a great pace and has some impressive physical effects and pyrotechnics – which all look pretty effective in this new transfer. Playing the droids are Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier and John P Ryan – who all gets some suitably OTT Terminator-style demises.

The Lionsgate Blu-ray includes the following extras…

• Audio commentary with producer/director Mark L Lester
• School Safety: interviews with director/producer Mark L Lester and co-producer Eugene Mazzola
New Rules: an interview with screenwriter C Courtney Joyner
• Cyber-Teachers From Hell: interviews with special effects creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
Future of Discipline: an interview with director of photography Mark Irwin
• Theatrical trailer
• TV spots
• Still gallery
• Video promo

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on March 9, 2019, in Crime thriller, Exploitation, Must-See, Thriller and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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