Hard Learning: A Review of ‘Class of 1984’ on Blu-Ray

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - April 19, 2015
Hard Learning: A Review of ‘Class of 1984’ on Blu-Ray

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“We Are The Future…And Nothing Can Stop Us!”… When you think back to those days in high school, I know I felt like nothing could stop me, even though I knew things could and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t know anyone who took it to such crazy extremes that could have made my education experience a VERY different thing.  On Blu-Ray for the very first time and shot in our very own city of Toronto, Class of 1984 is a seminal cult classic as we dive into the annals of high learning and how dangerous it can be when the kids realize that they have more control than they would have ever imagined.

Andrew Norris (Perry King) is an bright eyed, idealistic and some would say naive music teacher who has just arrived in a new community with his pregnant wife to start a new job at Lincoln High only to find it is an academic abyss, where both teachers and students are armed, higher learning is put to the back burner as everyone only wants to get out alive.  Horrified by this crime infested school, Norris quickly crosses paths with the kingpin of the entire school Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), a young man who is just as brilliant as he is shrewd and sadistic.  Norris wants to do his job and try and reform Stegman, but Stegman has declared war and only has mayhem in heart as these two build towards a collision course that a teacher and student should never see themselves on.

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You can never see them all, however I am kind of amazed that Class of 1984 had never been on my radar until now as it is a dark gripping look at the decay of the inner city educational system that was happening at that time and in some places still is.

Co-Writer and Director Mark Lester with credits like Roller Boogie & Commando to his name isn’t really anything more than a serviceable hand from a directing standpoint, however this may easily be the best film in his entire career.  He sets us up well enough as our protagonist learns the in and out’s of surviving in a school like this, which is akin to something out of The Warriors. Lester doesn’t waste time as we see this uphill battle become more and more hopeless until the stakes escalate and his forced the dole out an education that only these warped kids will understand.  The story never drags or gets bogged down in unnecessary exposition and in an odd hybrid of Death Wish & Dead Poets Society we buy into every moment that we see because we have either been there ourselves, or heard enough stories  to know it actually happened.  The production design was quite solid and the drama of it all was centered quite well around the two main characters.

Perry King was a great choice to play the idealistic Andrew Norris as he brought a certain amount of fresh energy to the role and it made it his own as we follow his character down the bewildered and confused rabbit hole of education and survival that he finds himself in.  We buy into his emotional conflicts at every turn and are cheering him on when he is pushed to the point of no return, realizing that not all students can be helped.  Tim Van Patten coming off The White Shadow TV series was great opposite him as the sociopathic Stegman who kept pushing the limits of what he could get away with at every single turn.  The rest of the ensemble is balanced out with a very young Michael J Fox, Lisa Langlois, Al Waxman and Roddy McDowell  as the despondent and alcoholic Terry Corrigan who mentors Norris in the do’s and don’ts of the school until his love of teaching ultimately gets torn away from him by the student body.Class of 1984 still 14_{2c524eb8-52c8-e411-8194-d4ae527c3b65}

Ultimately, Class of 1984 is a pulp filled gem from the 1980’s that holds up better than ever today and makes me glad that the halls of high school (any high school) are long in my rear view mirror as it all makes for an effectively dark tale of revenge in a world where the only person you have to look out for is yourself.

The brand new high def transfer on Class of 1984 is absolutely immaculate and the special features include new interviews with director Mark Lester, Actors Lisa Langois, Perry King and others as well as the theatrical trailer, TV spots and a stills gallery.

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This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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