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  Class of 1999 Hey, Teacher! Leave Them Kids Alone!
Year: 1990
Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: Bradley Gregg, Traci Lind, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier, John P. Ryan, Darren E. Burrows, Joshua John Miller, Sharon Wyatt, James Medina, Jason Oliver, Brent David Fraser, Jill Gatsby, Sean Hagerty
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1999 and the United States educational system is facing tough times as inner city violence means that many schools have been taken over by gangs made up of the pupils. So it is in Seattle's Kennedy High, where a solution to the problem will be implemented soon: three robot teachers who have both the knowledge in their subjects and the talent for self defence and combat that make them ideal for difficult classroom situations. The mastermind behind this is Dr Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach), but what he hasn't told the principal Dr Miles Longford (Malcolm McDowell) is the true nature of these machines...

Class of 1984 was a trashy exploitation movie on the subject of American school pupils running riot, and the extreme effects it had on the teachers, sort of a Blackboard Jungle for the eighties. For this science fiction follow up along similar lines, the action sequences were emphasised, transforming the premise into something like a Terminator of tutorials, with the mechanical teachers laying down the law on what went on in their classroom, and anyone who stepped out of line would be punished. At one point, two of these overage-looking teenaged troublemakers are soundly spanked by their history droid, a scene that the film finds it hard to top for bizarreness.

That trio of lecturers is played with tongue in cheek gusto by three veterans of this kind of movie, Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier and John P. Ryan, and much of the amusement stems from the over the top cheerfulness that accompanies their antics, as if to say, we're not taking this seriously, so don't let it trouble you. Director Mark L. Lester had helmed the first instalment and returned here with obvious consideration for the potential his idea had, and to some extent he fulfils it, even if he loses interest in the schoolkids taking revenge on insanely strict educational authorities plot about half way through, and leans back on what resembles one of those Italian post-apocalypse movies that proliferated in the eighties.

As this was released a few months into 1990, you could observe that entertainment of this kind was moving on, but nowadays it's possible to view Class of 1999 without those qualms and settle back to enjoy its goodnatured ridiculousness for what it was: an unpretentious action flick. Funnily enough it does begin with a social conscience, as our hero Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) is released from a prison sentence for gang violence vowing he's never going to get mixed up with that kind of drug taking and punch-ups ever again. Naturally the script has other ideas, and before long he is getting into a fight with a ne'erdowell who tried to rape the principal's daughter, Christie (Traci Lind).

This display of chivalry goes unrewarded, and he is victimised by the robo-teachers from then on as they start to fall back on their military training and murder any student who refuses to obey them. You can see where this is heading, but before the grand finale there has to be a lengthy sequence where rival gangs get Cody caught up in a gun battle that is exacerbated by the presence of the metallic automatons, until our hero works out what is really going on and that the real plan of Forrest is to wipe all troublemakers out by foul means. Incidentally, Stacy Keach here sports very strange makeup, with his white contact lenses making him look like a moustachioed Meg Foster. Anyway, the big battle, when it arrives, is worth the wait, with an abundance of cheesy effects (who doesn't want to see Pam Grier with a flamethrower for an arm?), so if Class of 1999 was no classic, it knew what to do to entertain its target audience, and that it did well. Music by Michael Hoenig.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Mark L. Lester  (1946 - )

Prolific American director/producer who specialises in crowd-pleasing B-movies, usually action or horror. Earlier films include more serious works like the award-winning documentary Twilight of the Mayas and Steel Arena, plus 1976's hilarious exploiter Truck Stop Women, Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw and Roller Boogie, with Linda Blair.

The 1980s was Lester's most successful decade, with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando, Firestarter, Class of 1984 and Armed and Dangerous all finding huge success on home video. Other films include Class of 1999, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Night of the Running Man and Blowback.

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