Monday, June 09, 2008

Class of 1999 (1990)

(Image from IMDB)

Class of 1999 (1990)

This is almost a weird spiritual cousin to Battle Royale, which it predates by a decade. The story: in the near future of 1999, society is facing a crisis as schools throughout the US suffer at the hands of youth gangs and violence, with entire regions of cities being cut off and abandoned as lawless zones. The solution to this educational crisis is, of course, blindingly obvious - introduce robot teachers to inject a little discipline into those young punks! Three cyborg teachers - played by Patrick Kilpatrick, John P. Ryan, and Pam Grier - are introduced in a trial run by the creepy Dr. Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach) at the school of Doctor Miles Longford (Malcolm McDowell). Meanwhile a senior gang member, Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) gets out of prison and heads back to school determined to keep his head down and to stay out of gang business. Unfortunately, the robot teachers are a little too enthusiastic about their work, and when they start killing students Cody teams up with the principal's daughter Christie (Traci Lind) to try and expose them and bring them down.

It's as ridiculous as it sounds, and low budget to boot. This is not a good film by any definition of the word that I can come up with. It's sloppily written - cheesy, poorly plotted, and cliched with fairly inane dialogue. It looks cheap as hell and has some pretty sloppy effects and action sequences. The acting is fairly dire. And yet, there's something about the weird gestalt of the film that makes the whole thing quite entertaining. The robotic antics are fun, and they behave with a comical sinisterness that'll have you rolling your eyes and laughing out loud. Actually, there's a weird sense of earnestness to the film from the entire cast, particularly the people playing the young gangsters. Bradley Gregg doesn't really act well, but he's still clearly the star and manages to command attention whenever he's around, and all of the young actors around him seem to believe they're actually gangsters, in much the same way little kids 'believe' that they are actually superheroes or wizards or Sheena Queen of the Jungle when playing. *SPOILERS AHEAD* It all culminates in a bizarre battle in the school halls between flamethrower wielding robots and gangsters on motorbikes that perfectly encapsulates the cheese factor of the film in the space of 15 minutes.

So yeah, 'Class of 1999' is trash, but fun trash. Not really recommended, except for those who are just plain curious or who, like me, enjoy cheesy but entertaining sci-fi.

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