Jan 5, 2020

CLASS OF 1999 (1990)

Looking back on films that were supposed to represent the future, long after that “future” has come and gone, can be hilarious. For example, according to Demolition Man, L.A. was to be reduced to one gigantic warzone, constantly on fire where busloads of people were being kidnapped.

In 1996.

As I’ve said before, every movie you have ever seen that’s set in the future doesn’t offer a sunny and optimistic look at what’s to come. Color everywhere has been replaced by sterile white; warmth is non-existent. And technology has run rampant, making humans nearly useless on their own (uh oh!); meanwhile, right in front of our stupid faces, that technology is threatening to undo the very rules of civilization (uh oh!).

Mark L. Lester’s Class of 1999 (made in 1990), a very loose sequel to his Class of 1984 (made in 1982), is a pretty good example of that, only instead of something like 2001: A Space Odyssey, and all the colorless, cold, and mechanical environments that come with it, there’s the usual amount of ‘80s-era bright colors and Mad Max-ish carnage. Not only is technology a future danger to society, but so are high school students. Run!

To backtrack, Class of 1984 was about a high school teacher pushed too far by his unruly gang member students, and this is a concept that’s been seen time and again. James Belushi’s silly but underrated flick The Principal, and later on, Tom Berenger’s The Substitute (which would spawn a direct-to-video franchise with Treat Williams). Class of 1999 takes that same basic concept and then throws robots into the mix, and in case you weren’t aware, adding robots to any movie makes it instantly better 99.999% of the time. 

This can be confirmed scientifically by using the following equation:

Movie x └[ ∵ ]┘ = 🙂

Class of 1999 is an amalgam of the previously mentioned Mad Max, along with The Terminator, The Warriors, and your choice of any typical ’80s action flick. It’s utterly beyond stupid and addictingly watchable. The action, the robots, and the robotic-action go a long way toward achieving this, but also helping? The inclusion of Stacy Keach, who as science has also proven, also makes any movie better 99.999% of the time. So now that we’re operating at 199.998% worth of superiority, it’s easy to see why Class of 1999 is so much fun. And this is before I mention the inclusion of John P. Ryan (Cannon’s go-to villain during the ‘80s and ‘90s) and blaxsploitation icon Pam Grier as grinning killer robots, and lead groog himself, Malcolm McDowell, as a sometimes caring/sometimes shrugging principal.

Lester had previously directed one of the greatest films of all time, Commando, and though Class of 1999 doesn’t come anywhere close to that film’s amount of carnage and violence, you can still sense Lester’s affection for it, so his sequel goes as far as it can on the budget he was given. There are still lots of explosions and fatalities during the finale and it’s an absolute blast.

If you haven’t guessed by now, not much of Class of 1999 is to be taken seriously. In case you missed the plotline, it’s about robot teachers murdering their gang member students, who eventually take revenge. If for some reason that kind of plot doesn’t interest you, frankly, I don’t want to know you.

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