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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Class of 1984  (1982)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: April 14, 2015) – New music teacher Andrew Norris (Perry King) arrives at Abraham Lincoln High with a fresh, optimistic attitude and a hunger to inspire, but it doesn't take long for him to realize the reality may not match up to what he has envisioned. The broken-down, graffiti-filled school comes equipped with metal detectors at the front entrance, security guards on duty, and surveillance cameras throughout the halls. Drugs and violence run rampant, and one particular gang, led by Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), target Mr. Norris from day one, determined to make his life a living hell. As their threatening antics escalate and move closer to the home he shares with pregnant wife Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross), Andrew is not about to let them bully him into submission. The length he is willing to go to protect himself, his wife and his other students is about to turn into a life-or-death struggle.

The bleak fictional landscape writer-director Mark Lester and co-writers John Saxton and Tom Holland imagine in "Class of 1984" has proven in the decades since its 1982 release to portend where public educational institutions were heading. While not every school in 2015 is nearly as dire as Abraham Lincoln High, school violence and resulting security have risen dramatically since the 1999 Columbine shootings. As socially conscious as "Class of 1984" is, the film's greater aim is as a crowd-provoking, albeit well-made, exploitation pic. It is never subtle, and its cautionary treatment of adolescent rebellion and drug use flirt with the feel of an "ABC Afterschool Special." As a battle between manipulative, sociopathic teenagers and well-meaning adults pushed to their limits, however, the film entertains and enrages just as it should, with the antagonistic relationship between a likeable Perry King, as Andrew Norris, and a creepily alluring Timothy Van Patten, as Stegman, at the story's captivating center. In supporting roles, Roddy McDowall brings a touching vulnerability to Andrew's friend, put-upon science teacher Terry Corrigan, and a pre-"Family Ties" Michael J. Fox plays Arthur, one of Andrew's "good" students. Erupting in bloodshed and murder, the climax of "Class of 1984" should please viewers eager to see the bad guys get their just desserts, but provides a rather base, simplistic resolution to a narrative with more going on beneath the surface than its makers give it credit for.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Scream Factory's Collector's Edition Blu-ray release of "Class of 1984" earns high marks with its 1080p transfer and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. With the exception of one shaky frame, a glaring cigarette burn, and the usually hint of age-related specks and dirt, this is a strikingly fresh-looking picture, displaying a healthy grain field, bold colors, and a renewed layer of detail that previous home-video versions lacked. The lossless 5.1 audio is predominately front-heavy, with use of the back speakers reserved for the punk soundtrack (including Alice Cooper's "I Am the Future"), music score, and a few action sequences involving an explosive car crash and a buzzing table saw. Dialogue is consistently intelligible, but some of it has a slightly tinny tone, likely a result of the film's age and budget. A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also included.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with director Mark Lester and DVD producer Perry Martin
  • "The Girls Next Door" Featurette (16:17, HD) - Interviews with actors Lisa Langlois (Patsy) and Erin Noble (Deneen)
  • "History Repeats Itself" Featurette (21:00, HD) - Interviews with director Mark Lester and composer Lalo Schifrin
  • "Do What You Love" Featurette (46:55, HD) - Interview with actor Perry King (Andrew Norris)
  • "Blood & Blackboards" Featurette (35:35, HD) - A 2006 retrospective, incorrectly (and quite humorously) titled "Blood & Backboards" on the Blu-ray's main menu
  • Trailer and TV Spots (3:20, HD)
  • Still Gallery (4:42, HD)
Bottom Line
"Class of 1984" premieres on Blu-ray with a sterling Collector's Edition courtesy of the forever-reliable Scream Factory. Producing new special features in addition to porting over the bonus content from the previous 2006 Anchor Bay DVD release, the company has now provided the definitive edition for this teen drama-action-thriller-horror hybrid. Fans will be immensely pleased with the care and attention that has been brought to this eagerly awaited cult title. Highly recommended.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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