Starring Perry King, Merrie Lynn Ross, Timothy Van Patten, Roddy McDowall, Stefan Arngrim, and a barely pubescent Michael J. Fox
Directed by Mark L. Lester
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
“We are the future. We are the future. We are the future,” snarls the leader of a truly fucked up band of kids into their new teacher’s ear. Class of 1984 is one of those cult classic films that simply defies any attempt at categorization. More thriller than straight horror film, like a lot of movies coming from overseas such as Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Class comes to rest right on the fringe of the genre we hold so dear. It’s got sex, psychos, vintage punk rock, and enough evil teenagers in tight-fitting clothing to make even the cowboys of Brokeback Mountain blush. Journey with me back to a much simpler time. A time when the violence we see in the news every day would have been thought impossible. Fire up the old flux capacitor, kids; we’re headin’ back to the early Eighties, and even a barely legal Michael J. Fox is along for the ride!
The time, 1984. The place, Lincoln High School. Music teacher Andrew Norris (no relation to Chuck, though almost as badass) is about to have his first day of class. Things are a bit amiss though. Facing this new breed of school kid is not what he expected, and from the second he sees the students passing through the metal detectors at the front door of the high school, he knows this is not going to be a normal semester. The teachers of Lincoln High all have one thing in common: They’re scared shitless of the students. Some cower at their approach, and some take comfort in the fact that should things get out of hand, they’re packing heat in their briefcases. Thankfully for all of us, there are teachers out there that do their jobs to try and make a difference. Norris is that caliber of teacher, but some of his more violent students aren’t having any of his meddling. Their mindset is simple: Either comply or get steam rolled. Wills and tempers clash, and it isn’t long before things boil over into a violent all-out war. Class of 1984 is a very dark ride.
Filmed in 1982 before real life horrific events like Columbine, Class of 1984 almost plays like a warning. Society is starting to spiral out of control, and our children are the ones at risk. Back then the thought of school violence was simply unthinkable. These were just kids, right? What harm could they do? Murder? Never happen. Fast forward a few years and lord knows how much bloodshed later, and it’s clear that maybe this movie shouldn’t have been dismissed as just a gratuitously violent little film. It was mired in a bit of controversy upon its release for showing teenagers committing some truly soulless acts, but again, popular perception was that this could never happen. You may think I’m digging a little too deep here, but Class of 1984 is riddled with political and social statements that still ring true today. Despite its underlying messages, the film never gets too heavy -handed and still remains a brisk and fun-filled (i.e., watching a student’s arm get sawed off in wood shop) trip.
Anchor Bay prides itself on delivering fairly obscure films to us in DVD packages that are almost too good to be true. With their release of this film we are treated to just about every kind of extra that we could possibly want, the star of which is the 35-minute long featurette entitled Blood and Blackboards. In it we see various interviews with the surviving cast and director Mark L. Lester, who now frighteningly resembles DeNiro’s character of Max Cady from Scorsese’s Cape Fear remake. It’s uncanny I tell ya! Holy shit! I was just waitin’ for him to light up a giant cuban, clasp his hands behind his head, and break out into a fit of maniacal laughter. Sheesh! Where was I? Oh yeah, the DVD extras. Along with the featurette there are a commentary with Cady, shit, I mean Lester that’s pretty lively; the theatrical trailer, which is vintage 80’s trailer gold; TV spots; and a still gallery riddled with posters, lobby cards, and newspaper ads. For you PC users the screenplay is also included as a bonus. My only regret is that the late and legendary Roddy McDowall is no longer with us to share in this package. Roddy’s performance in the film is bar none one of his best. It would really be interesting to hear what he would have had to say all these years later. God bless ya, my man; we know you’re watching from above.
Bottom line, Class of 1984 is a must buy. Whether you’re an old fan or a blind buyer, you’ll find lots to like. The Eighties were a really strange time for us all, and Class serves as both a mirror and an omen. It isn’t hard to smell the blood over the scent of over-used hairspray. The film is just as powerful, fun, frightening, and provocative as it was way back when. Go get this now.
Blood and Blackboards featurette
Audio commentary with director Mark Lester
Two TV spots
Poster and still gallery
Mark Lester bio
Discuss Class of 1984 in our forums!
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.
The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.
Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
Hangman starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, and Brittany Snow Blu-ray Specs
Exclusive FredHeads Clip Shows How Horror Can Help Those Who Are Bullied
Fast Five Q&A with S. Craig Zahler – Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child
Superheroes You Never Realized Battled Xenomorphs
Jesper Kyd Returning to Score Vermintide 2
Gender Bashing: The Exorcist Series and the Male Body in Possession Horror
Zak Bagans’ Paranormal-Themed Documentary Demon House Acquired: Aiming For March Release
Julie, Sweet Julie: Why Return of the Living Dead 3 Is One of the Most Inventive Sequels Ever
Decade of Horror (2010-2017): What Have We Learned in the Past 7 Years?
Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil – Exclusive Trailer, Stills, Poster and More
News5 days ago
An Early Draft of Halloween 6 Has Been Released And It’s… Interesting
News4 days ago
The Evil Dead Trilogy Cuts a 72-Minute Super Cut in Black and White
News5 days ago
Universal’s Bride of Frankenstein Reboot Back on Track With Gal Gadot?
News5 days ago
Zac Efron Looks Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as Ted Bundy
Editorials3 days ago
What’s Next? 5 Horror Trends We Expect Within 5 Years
Reviews5 days ago
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility
News5 days ago
Jigsaw Teased for Dead by Daylight
News6 days ago
Amityville Arcade Does What Nintendon’t – Kills You!