Mark L. Lester, the director of beloved Arnold Schwarzenegger cheese-fest action classic Commando, loves Class of 1984. He thinks it’s a prophetic work of genius that warned about a violent future for the school system in America that has become reality in the intervening decades. Mark L. Lester also directed Class of 1984 so he’s understandably invested in promoting the film’s legacy. Cut by censors when first released in the UK, it is indeed an example of how far we’ve come but not in the way Lester suggests. No, instead it’s difficult to believe this earnest, silly, occasionally unpleasant film was considered so dangerous.
The film tells of idealistic teacher Andrew Norris (King) who, along with his pregnant wife, has moved to an inner-city area and started at a school with a raft of problems including a near-complete lack of discipline and drugs being openly dealt. It’s not long before Norris has made a friend in fellow faculty member Terry (Roddy McDowall) and an enemy in student and would-be crime boss Stegman (Timothy Van Patten). He then proceeds to make everyone’s life around him exponentially worse before everything comes to a violent conclusion. It’s all done with a completely straight face despite being deeply silly. Whatever statement Lester wanted to make is lost as a result, whether he did predict the decline of schools a moot point.
Let’s assume for a moment though you don’t care about this writer’s opinion and love the film. If so, this is the release for you. It has all the extras from the US Scream Factory collector’s edition and more. Starting with that, the brand new extra here is a new interview with writer Tom Holland that covers his career as creator of some iconic genre films. Holland is an agreeably spiky interviewee and the piece makes a good retrospective on his achievements. Whether you love some of the other extras is going to depend on how much you agree with Lester’s regularly repeated refrain that Class of 1984 is some ahead-of-its-time classic. The audio commentary with him is well moderated however and gets into technical nitty gritty so is worth it. There’s a making of called Blood and Blackboards that is solid, a further interview with Lester and composer Lalo Schifrin and an interview with actors Erin Noble and Lisa Langlois. The best however is a 45-minute interview with the still-hugely-enthusiastic Perry King who talks about his career in infectious detail. It also comes with a new booklet with writing on the film. Rounding out the package is the trailer, some TV spots and a stills gallery.
CLASS OF 1984 (1982) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MARK L. LESTER / SCREENPLAY: MARK L. LESTER, JOHN C.W. SAXTON, TOM HOLLAND / STARRING: PERRY KING, MERRIE LYNN ROSS, TIMOTHY VAN PATTEN / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 25TH