Class of 1984 (Shout! Factory, R)

Class of 1984 is a must-see film. Beyond being great, it deals with real issues that are still relevant today.




The movie is about Andy Norris (Perry King), a music teacher who moves to a new town with his pregnant wife and begins teaching at a crime-infested school. Lincoln High is nothing like Andy has experienced before, with a teenage gang led by Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) terrorizing the school. When the school and authorities fail to find proof the gang’s violence, Andy tries to find proof on his own. His good intentions are challenged when the gang pushes him too far.

This film is a bit campy, but if you go into it with your mind focused on the time period and not trying to compare it to present day, it won’t seem over the top. I love this film because within the first hour you think you know where it’s headed, but the ending is so unexpected.

Director and co-writer Mark Lester is a genius. There is not a single wasted scene in this film. In the first few minutes I was confused as to why it is classified a thriller, but this became clear with time. The story is expertly written where the stakes are raised with every action. There are surprises around every corner. Each character is given a distinct voice and strong persona.

It’s always nice to see young actors tackle really complex characters, and Timothy Van Patten is absolutely fantastic in this film. He was so believable that I was afraid of him, just sitting there and watching. It is never said outright in the film that Timothy’s character Peter is a sociopath or has any kind of personality disorder, but he plays it cunningly, he really truly becomes the character.

I was also impressed with Lisa Langolis, who portrayed Patsy, a member of Peter’s gang. Patsy does not have a ton of lines, but she is the most memorable character. Attention is drawn to her in every scene because she’s never just standing there—she’s always doing something interesting or reacting to the central action much differently than everyone else in the frame is. Patsy is a character that demands to be known. Peter is more central, but I want to know who Patsy is. Why did she join the gang? What’s her family like? What does she aspire to be?

Crime in schools is a relevant topic that still needs to be addressed today, but going beyond that the important aspect of this film is rebellion against authority. It’s not just about students who refuse to listen to their teachers, but also about people who revolt against any authority anywhere. Enough revolutionaries lead to complete chaos, which is a gentle reminder the world could use today: people are given power and authority for a reason.

The special collector’s edition DVD includes new interviews with director Mark Lester, composer Lalo Schifrin, and actors Perry King, Lisa Langlois, and Erin Noble. These interviews offer insight into life on the set back when they were filming compared with life on set today, and a difference in reception of this film over a span of time is also discussed.

Other special features included are the new high-definition transfer of the film from the interpositive, a new career retrospective interview with Perry King, audio commentary with Mark Lester, the original theatrical trailer, and a still gallery. | Samantha LaBat

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