• Class Of 1999

    Class Of 1999
    Released by: Lionsgate/Vestron Video
    Released on: January 30th, 2018.
    Director: Mark L. Lester
    Cast: Bradley Gregg, Traci Lin, Stacy Keach, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier, John P. Ryan
    Year: 1990
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    The Movie:

    Set in the dystopian future of 1999, our film takes place in a world where inner city schools have all gone to Hell. The gang problem has gotten so out of control that not even the cops will go into these zones anymore. This is here Dr. Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach) and his company MegaTech come in. They’ve turned three cyborgs previously designed for military use into teachers, the theory here being that they’ll be tough enough to keep those punk kids in line and make sure they get a proper education, whether they like it or not!

    Before you know it, the principal, Dr. Miles Langford (Maclolm McDowell), has bought into the concept and Seattle’s Kennedy High School has a trio of new educators on board: gym teacher Mr. Bryles (Patrick Kilpatrick), history teacher Mr. Hardin (John P. Ryan), and chemistry teacher Ms. Connors (Pam Grier). At the same time, some previously incarcerated gang members like Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) of ‘The Blackhearts’ are let back into the school population. He soon falls for Langford’s pretty daughter Christie (Traci Lin), also a member of this illustrious student body. But nothing can be easy. Cody wants out of the gang, and when fellow Blackheart Curt (Jason Oliver) learns this, well, Cody’s on their enemies list now. If that weren’t enough, Hector (James Medina), the leader of the rival Razorheads gang, has got it in for him. And on top of that? Cody’s mom and younger brother are hooked on a dangerous new drug called Edge!

    When the new cyborg teachers start to act up, getting increasingly more violent with the students and switching over from ‘educate mode’ to ‘war mode,’ Cody and Christie take it upon themselves to stop it, just as war breaks out between The Blackhearts and the Razorheads!

    Those expecting any sort of redeeming social value out of this kinda-sorta follow up/sequel to Lester’s seminal Class Of 1984 may come out disappointed but for fans of trashy punksploitation and Mad Max style action? This is the bees knees. The subplots attempt to add some depth to the characters, and they succeed to a small degree – we know that Cody’s home life is tough, that he cares about his family and that he really does want to go straight – but really, it’s the goofy, over-the-top action sequences that are the most fun. We get this in two forms: the war between the two gangs and the conflict that exists between the three cyborg teachers and the student body. The gang war aspect is pretty nutty. These kids are all dressed like they walked out of a post-apocalyptic wasteland rather than the suburbs of Seattle, but that just adds to the fun factor that the film is constantly slapping us in the face with. the cyborg teacher action is a bit different, it borrows from The Terminator at times, by way of something like The Blackboard Jungle. If C. Courtney Joyner’s script borrows from quite a few other, better movies it never takes away from the fact that this is a ridiculously over the top and entertaining little trash epic.

    The film also benefits from a pretty interesting cast. Malcolm McDowell is a bit underused as the principal but he’s fun in the role. Stacy Keach looks ridiculous with bad contact lenses and a shock white mullet, but he makes the role his own. Bradley Gregg and Traci Lin are fine in what are essentially the lead ‘hero’ roles in the picture, but the film is at its best when the cyborg teachers are beating the shit out of the students. Pam Grier brings her inimitable sense of immortal cool to the part, making it easy to look past the fact that she’s sporting a very dated perm. John P. Ryan steals more than a few scenes as the English teacher. He’s older looking than his two associates but just as dangerous and watching him go after the troublemakers in his class is a kick. Patrick Kilpatrick is also a lot of fun as the gym teacher/coach character, taking his character to the logical extreme and seemingly having a blast doing it.


    Lionsgate’s Vestron Video line debuts Class Of 1999 on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in 1.85.1 widescreen. Generally speaking this is a pretty solid transfer. Some minor print damage shows up – specks and the occasional scratch, this probably could have been cleaned up a little bit more, really. Colors are reproduced really nicely here, all of the garish hues of the wardrobe shine nicely and skin tones look nice and lifelike. Generally speaking, detail is definitely advanced over what DVD would be able to provide, as is texture and depth. Black levels are fine here too, and there are no issues to note with any compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction (so expect a bit of grain, as you should). All in all, the transfer is quite good.

    The only audio option provided is a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio in English with optional subtitles provided, also in English. No problems here, the dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow, the levels well balanced and the score/soundtrack appropriately punchy. No issues with any hiss or distortion to note either. There’s a solid low end here too, particularly during the more action intensive scenes in the last half of the film.

    Extras on this disc start off with an audio commentary featuring producer/director Mark L. Lester who has quite a bit to talk about here including the film’s connection to Class Of 1984, Joyner’s script and his thoughts on the different cast members that participated in the making of the picture. He talks about shooting the film on location in Seattle, the picture’s distribution history, the use of violence in the film, some of the effects work and quite a bit more.

    From there, we dive into a few featurettes, the first of which is School Safety, a twenty-three-minute interview Lester and co-producer Eugene Mazzola. This covers some of the same ground as Lester’s commentary track but it is still worth checking out to get Mazzola’s take on things. They discuss how and why the movie came to be, the locations, casting the film and more. Up next is the twenty-minute New Rules, an all-new interview with screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner. He talks about where some of the ideas for the film came from, his thoughts on the final product and how his story turned out in movie form, Lester’s direction and more. Special effects creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton are up next in the twenty-minute Cyber Teachers From Hell. They discuss how they wound up working on the film as well as what went into turning the human actors into killer robot teachers as well as some of the other effects set pieces that are featured in the picture. The fourth and final featurette is The Future Of Discipline, a nineteen-minute interview with director of photography Mark Irwin who speaks about how he wound up working on the production, shooting the film, working with Lester and his thoughts on the picture in general.

    Outside of that, the disc also includes a theatrical trailer, a few TV spots, a still gallery and a Vestron Video promo. Animated menus and chapter selection are also included. The disc comes housed in a standard sized Blu-ray ‘eco-case’ that in turn fits inside a slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Class Of 1999 is a blast – a lot of goofy, over the top, ultra-violent fun. Of course, if you think about it too much it all falls apart but as far as mindless entertainment goes, this is top notch stuff. Vestron’s Blu-ray could have been cleaned up more but otherwise looks and sounds quite decent and the disc, like the others in the line, is loaded with supplements.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      Looks like an upscale to me. The compression is atrocious.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      I think it's not an upscale, but an older master. But I agree on the compression -- they *really* need to work on their technical skills. That's been my only issue with these releases so far.