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Peter’s Retro Rewind: Class of 1984 (1982)

Class of 1984 movie posterby Peter Nielsen

“What’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with matter?”

Let’s go back to the future this week, shall we? That sentence fits this movie very well, because you could in fact call it a sci-fi movie. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my movie-pick for this week is actually set in the future… or at least it was when it was released back in 1982, but since we’re now in the year 2013 and have surpassed that future by many years, we have to go back in time, in order to get to the future…

Still with me here?

It’s really not that complicated! And that’s why my opening-line is so fitting for Class of 1984. Well, there is actually another reason for my using that line. Think about what movie from 1985 it was used in… and then think about the star in said movie! No… not Christopher Lloyd! I’m thinking about Michael J. Fox, dammit! He has a small role in Class of 1984 as Arthur, a guy who plays the trumpet in the school band. This was in his early days, before he was the well-known star that he was later to become.

The futuristic setting isn’t like in a classic sci-fi movie, although many thought it was a bit far-fetched at the time. It’s set in an inner-city high-school where the students have to pass through a metal-detector when entering the premises. The school is over-run with drugs and violence, so there are also armed guards.  The audience thought the notion of metal-detectors in a high-school was a bit too much, but a couple of years later that would actually become a reality in many cities.

Corrigan and Norris

Corrigan and Norris

This particular high-school is run by Peter Stegman and his gang of violent punk thugs. Not even the teachers or the principle dare touch him. Not without rock-solid evidence, that is, and every time someone tries to catch him in the act, he plays the innocent student and walks away scot-free. There’s nothing redeeming about this character what-so-ever! He’s a total asshole and is played very well by Timothy Van Patten. He’s known from Zone Troopers or the TV-show The White Shadow for instance.

Van Patten would later go on to direct episodes in TV-shows such as Rome, Sex and the City, The Pacific, The Sopranos and even a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones. He also starred, together with Lee Van Cleef and Sho Kosugi, in a short-lived TV-series called The Master. It was a show about an old ninja-master and his young protégé and we used to rent this on VHS back in the day. It wasn’t a fantastic show, but I’d still want to watch it again. Unfortunately it’s more or less impossible to find as it’s never been released on DVD. I haven’t even been able to find it on tape either. I’m not giving up, though!

Beating up on Michael J. Fox!

Beating up on Michael J. Fox!

Perry King from the TV-series Riptide and the film The Lords of Flatbush plays Andrew Norris, a music teacher who’s new at the school. He’s really not prepared for what he’s seeing and is appalled about the condition of the school. There’s an instant dislike from Stegman’s side who wants to break him any way he can. He bullies and attacks his students and trashes his car, but Norris won’t back down.

At one point when Norris confronts him in the school bathroom, Stegman tries to taunt him into hitting him. Norris refuses, of course, so Stegman beats himself up by smashing his head and face into a mirror and the sink. He smears his blood on Norris and screams for help. When one of the guards enter, it looks like Norris has kicked the crap out of him and no matter how hard he tries to explain, no-one believes his story.

Stegman, freshening up a bit...

Stegman, freshening up a bit…

The violence continues to escalate up to the point where the gang assaults Norris’ pregnant wife while he’s preparing a symphony back at the school. They take polaroids of the attack and show them to him just as he’s about to start conducting the orchestra. This causes him to finally snap and the following revenge is brutal as hell.

Class of 1984 was actually facing an X rating and had to be trimmed down in order to get an R. The violent content and the overall feeling of the movie caused it to be banned in many countries, so you can take a wild guess at how it faired here in Sweden. Yup, that’s right… of course it was banned! At least at first is was. It was later released after it was further cut by almost three and a half minute.

The director, Mark L. Lester was, from what I understand, pretty pleased with this movie! As he should be, because it’s not a bad movie! It was actually much better than I remembered it to be.

Attacking Norris' wife.

Attacking Norris’ wife.

Mr. Lester has made such diverse movies as Commando, Firestarter and Roller Boogie and has with Class of 1984 made a great, but simple story and yet there’s a little bit of social commentary about the future of the school system and where it was headed. At least back then, but I’m not going to go into any of that here… Or maybe it’s just me reading too much into it, maybe there’s no social commentary at all. Maybe he just set out to make a damn good movie!

However the case may be I’ll just say that I like this movie… a lot!! Even though it’s an extremely violent and sadistic one. The acting is pretty solid and it also has the talented Roddy McDowall in the role of Corrigan, the biology teacher. Mr. McDowall has well over 200 credits to his name and doesn’t really need an introduction, does he? He’s been in several of the Planet of the Apes-movies, Cleopatra, The Poseidon Adventure, Fright Night and the TV-series Tales of the Gold Monkey to name just a few titles.

Oh, and the cheesy title-song “I am the future” is sung by Alice Cooper.

So, my friends… that’s my movie-choice this week! What do you think? Have you seen it? If you have… did you like it? The comment section below is all yours!


About Peter Nielsen

Peter was born in Denmark in 1968, but moved to Sweden at the age of six, (not by himself of course), and has lived there ever since. He’s married and has five children, so spare time is somewhat of a luxury. His main interests in life, apart from his family, are long walks, books and movies. Any movie! He has preferences, but he’s not particular as long as it's good or... so bad it's good... he just LOVES MOVIES!

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