New music teacher Andrew has arrived at a very dangerous inner-city high school with hopes of inspiring students to new heights of excellence. Fat chance in a school that's under constant threat from a small but wonderfully stylish and truly threatening gang led by the charismatic Stegman (Timothy Van Patten). It just so happens that he's a talented musician, but he's also a psychopath, and that side of his personality is the dominant one. Van Patten is extremely effective and really scary as Stegman. The fact that the movie has a cult following to this day is due mainly to his performance.
Andrew tries to make nice with Stegman and his cronies, but his advances are met with derision and later violence. Even Andrew's pregnant wife Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross), supposedly safe at home, will know the gang's wrath before this horror show ends.
Also meeting an ugly fate is a very young and pleasantly plump Michael J. Fox, a nerdy school band member named Arthur (natch) who gets a knife in the gut when Stegman tries to reassert his authority in the hallways. This cinematic Trivial Pursuit moment is well worth the price of a rental. Take that, you chubby nerd!
The movie's other truly memorable moment involves the late, great Roddy McDowell as Mr. Corrigan, the biology teacher. The horrors of this high school have done a number on Corrigan; as the movie progresses he goes perfectly berserk. In a climactic scene he decides to teach his science class while pointing a loaded pistol at his students. The punishment for a wrong answer: Blammo! Personal aside: When I saw this movie on the big screen as a teen back in 1982, I thought this was just about the coolest -- and funniest -- scene ever, and in the years since I've mentioned it to many teacher friends of mine. "I wish," is their usual response.
Of course, the years since 1982 have shown us that leather-clad punks are the least of our worries when it comes to high school violence. The Columbine killers could have and probably would have taken out Stegman just as easily as Arthur. It's sad, really, that a movie deemed horrific enough to be banned in several countries 25 years ago seems almost naïve by today's standards. Alice Cooper penned the movie's theme song, "I Am the Future," but the future has turned out to be a lot more dangerous than his power chords and Stegman's knife.
The DVD includes a featurette with the obvious title of "Blood and Blackboards" and commentary from director Mark Lester.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th August 1982
Distributed by: United Film Distribution
Production compaines: Guerilla High Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 4
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Mark Lester
Producer: Arthur Kent
Starring: Perry King as Andrew Norris, Merrie Lynn Ross as Diane Norris, Tim Van Patten as Peter Stegman, Michael J. Fox as Arthur, Roddy McDowall as Terry Corrigan, Stefan Arngrim as Drugstore, Keith Knight as Barnyard, Lisa Langlois as Patsy, Neil Clifford as Fallon, Al Waxman as Detective Stewiski, Erin Noble as Deneen, David Gardner as Principal Morganthau, Steve Pernie as Rejack, Robert Reece as Leroy, Joseph Kelly as Jimmy
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