In 1999, violence has spiralled out of control and many major US cities are ruled by gangs. “Free fire zones” have been set up, areas in which police are no longer willing to enter, and right in the middle of one of these lies John F. Kennedy High School. Violence on the streets inevitably finds its way to the hallways and classrooms, and the school is on the verge of collapse. In an attempt to take control of the situation, the school enlists the help of MegaTech, whose experimental programme sees former military androids reprogrammed as all-seeing “educators”. But faced with hordes of unruly teenage gang members and a general lack of respect, it doesn't take long for these androids to go rogue and take discipline to a whole other level...
Everything about Class Of 1999 screams 1980s, which is no bad thing of course. The fashions, dialogue and soundtrack are almost a perfect snapshot of the era, despite the film being set right at the tail end of the 20th century. Made in '89, it takes many of its cues from some of the decade's most well-loved action films like The Terminator and Robocop, but still very much retains its own identity. John P. Ryan channels the spirit of Christopher Lloyd's Judge Doom as sadistic history teacher Mr Hardin, Patrick Kilpatrick is one of those “ohhhh what's he from?!” faces of 80's action movies, and Pam Grier brings a bit of kickass glamour to the role of science teacher Ms. Connors.
The dialogue is full of wisecracks and one liners that nine times of ten don't quite land, but the script is largely secondary to the action which for the most part is thoroughly entertaining. Fights, chase sequences, gangs, gun battles, explosions, and seemingly invincible androids combine to make a massively enjoyable ninety minutes. The film has been cleaned up tremendously well since its original release, and looks great with sharp colours and clear throughout.
Roughly ninety minutes of extras are included, along with commentary by director Mark Lester through the entire film. There are also four twenty-minute sit-down interviews with the crew, although none with the cast which is a shame. It's not unusual for such interviews to come across a little dry and uncomfortable, but everyone involved here seems perfectly at home in front of the camera. They're all super amiable and friendly and happy to be there, everyone has something to say, and there's tons of interesting behind the scenes revelations.
Rounding things off are the obligatory theatrical trailer, TV spots, and stills gallery. If we're honest, most of us probably rarely bother with these, but the stills here are pretty good, playing out as a nine-minute slideshow.
This seems to be a direct re-release of last year's edition, albeit now brought to European shores (the previous release was only officially available in the USA). Anyone who sought out the 2018 release doesn't really need to bother with this one, but for the rest of us, it's a great way to revisit a real gem of the 80s.
Special features: Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Mark L. Lester, School Safety - Interviews with Director/Producer Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola, New Rules - Interview with Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, CyberTeachers from Hell - Interviews with Special Effects Creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton, Future of Discipline - Interview with Director of Photography Mark Irwin, Trailer & TV Spot, Still Gallery, Video Promo
CLASS OF 1999 / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MARK L. LESTER / SCREENPLAY: C. COURTNEY JOYNER / STARRING: / RELEASE DATE: 25TH FEBRUARY