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Class of 1999


‘…Class of 1999 deserves a gold star for trying, it’s got some great cult performers acting up big time, and plenty of mad action…’

Now, this IS what we want! Hidden away on the Pluto tv free movies app, here’s a minor gem if you enjoy the jarring feel of sequels which are completely different in tone to the original film, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace style. Mark L Lester’s Class of 1984 is covered elsewhere on this blog; it’s a hysterical, nasty, alarmist youth-gone-mad scare story of anxious teaching staff and murderous kids in a high school named after John F Kennedy. Despite mixed messaging to say the least, Class of 1984 developed a cult following, but when Lester was given another crack of the whip after helming action/comedy classic Commando, he turned the tables on audience expectations for some grade A sci-fi schlock; now the kids are the goodies, and the teachers are killer cyborgs and that’s OK.

So if you don’t want to see Pam Grier as a machine-gun toting cyborg teacher, then just forge a letter from your parent or guardian and leave, because that’s just one of the choice elements on offer here. The year is 1999, the constitution has been abolished alongside any notion of private businesses; around the US, free fire zones have been established where the police simply don’t exist, although somehow functioning high-schools do. In Seattle’s John F Kennedy High, Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) is a bad boy fighting in an on-going gang war between the Blackhearts and the Razorheads, but his teachers are even worse. Played by the great Malcolm McDowell, Dr Miles Langford, the school’s principal, agrees to test out three cyborg teachers who look like staff-room sad-sacks, but actually have murderous powers. Their creator, Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach, beyond OTT in an albino wig and contacts) has ported their design from androids unused since the apocalyptic USA vs Russia conflict way back in 1991…

That synopsis sounds like fun, and Class of 1999 deserves a gold star for trying, it’s got some great cult performers acting up big time, and plenty of mad action; they found a soon-to-be demolished school building in Seattle so that they could film motorcycle chases in the corridors. We even smash a school-bus through the school’s front lobby; you just don’t get films with this kind of physical presence with yer green-screen CGI. There’s lots of nasty deaths, but the special effects are ingenious rather than repellent. Perhaps at the time it was frustrating to see actors who did such key work in the mid 70’s (O Lucky Man, The Gravy Train, Coffy) making such cheerful, crowd-pleasing nonsense circa 1990, but that desire to entertain makes this enterprise rather cherishable now…

Does the future of education depend on us filling out classrooms with killer cyborg robot teachers? That’s about as serious as Class of 1999 gets in terms of delivering social commentary. Intentionally silly movies rarely work; there’s usually something objectionable in an anything-goes movie like this that spoils the mix. But as a sit-back-and-wig-out action spectacle, Class of 1999 is a lot of fun, with tonnes of fancy-dan graticule optics, McDowell and Keach facing off in wild style, and Pam Grier dissolving into green goo. It might not be the film you thought you needed in 2023, but Class of 1999 is the kinda daft film you might just enjoy much more than you expected….


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  1. What is the pluto tv app? Is it like the freevee thing that amazon subsumed?

    I’m all for killer cyborg teachers. Makes union negotiations much easier. Just threaten to not plug them in at night and bam, contract issues suddenly solved!

    • You have to be constantly on alert for Udo Kier creeping up on you, it’s a full-time job keeping him in line.

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