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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Class of 1999

June 28, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #416: Class of 1999

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that never had to be held back a year, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and sixteen, I take a look at the badass sci-fi action horror flick Class of 1999, which debuted way back in 1990.

Class of 1999

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Class of 1999, directed by Mark L. Lester with a screenplay by the great C. Courtney Joyner, is a sort of sequel/follow up to Class of 1984, the futuristic “gangs in schools” movie from 1982 (Lester also directed that movie, too). Although, truthfully, you don’t really need to know anything about Class of 1984 to understand Class of 1999. Class of 1999 is very much its own thing.

In the 1999 of the movie, the United States is overrun by youth street gangs. The schools in the big cities are hellholes and have been that way for seven years (1992 was a bad year in this movie world). In fact, there are areas around schools called “free fire zones” that are basically lawless (the cops won’t go into them, and if you’re in one of them you’re on your own). The authorities have no real ideas on how to fix the problem. However, the Department of Educational Defense, which is some sort of new federal bureaucracy, decides to enlist major technology company Megatech to help solve the gangs and schools issue. Dr. Bob Forrest (the great Stacy Keach with creepy eyes and a wicked white mullet wig), a Megatech higher up, comes up with a scheme to use advanced cyborgs to act as educators in troubled schools. These cyborgs won’t take any shit from the students, and, above all else, these troubled students in these bad schools need discipline. So Forest teams up with Dr. Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell), the principal of the hellhole Kennedy High School in Seattle, to create a sort of cyborg teacher pilot program. Megatech will give Kennedy High three cyborg teachers and they’ll see how it all turns out. What do Dr. Langford and the Kennedy High students have to lose?

Now, as the cyborg teachers (Mr. Hardin, as played by John P. Ryan, Ms. Connors, as played by Pam Grier, and Mr. Bryles, as played by Patrick Kilpatrick) enter the school and begin the Megatech test, Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg), returns to Kennedy High after a stint in prison. Cody is an ex-gang member, a former leader of the dreaded Blackhearts, and in order to stay out of prison he has to stay away from gangs and go to school. When we meet Cody he’s intent on staying out of prison (prison, regardless of the time period, always sucks) and he tries to make a good impression on his brother Angel (Joshua John Miller) so he doesn’t follow the same path as he did. Angel, of course, wants to be just like his big brother and plans on getting “jumped in” to the Blackhearts very soon. While trying to keep his brother Angel out of the gang life and staying out of prison, Cody has to deal with his past as the rival Razorhead gang knows that he’s out of prison and wants to kill him. So Cody has some major shit to deal with (the poor guy gets out of prison and tries to go home but ends up getting into a big car chase that ends with a Razorhead flipping his truck in one of the flick’s many badass action sequences).

The first day of school at the new Kennedy High is raucous as the gangs are still the gangs (they don’t have guns and knives and whatnot but they do have strength in numbers and their reputations). But, as Dr. Langford hoped and Forrest guaranteed, the cyborg teachers kick gang ass and take shit from absolutely no one. Ms. Connors takes out several hoodlums in her chemistry class, Mr. Hardin spanks multiple students in front of his class (this scene is both hilarious and disturbing), and Mr. Bryles runs roughshod over anyone and everyone in his way. As we see later on, Bryles is the main gym teacher and he lives to brutalize students on the wrestling mat. Cody witnesses most of this stuff and realizes, to a certain extent, that his whole “keep himself out of trouble” scheme is the right way to go. He’s curious, though, about these new teachers. Where the hell did they come from? Why are they so brutal to everyone? Just what the hell is going on here?

Now, in the midst of all of that, Cody gets friendly with Christie (Traci Lind), a hot “suburban” girl who is sort of into him, too. Christie is also the daughter of Dr. Langford, a relationship that could come in handy later on (it’s always good to have friends in high places).

As the week moves on, Cody notices that several of his fellow students are missing. Did they drop out of school? Did they get killed in some sort of gang nonsense? Or did the new teachers do something to them? Before students go missing they tend to show up for class covered in bruises and blood. That could be gang related, sure, but with the new sort of order established by the new teachers is that plausible? After getting his ass kicked in gym class, Cody isn’t so sure. He wants to know who the hell these new teachers are. So Cody enlists the help of Christie, who isn’t thrilled with the prospect of looking into these new teachers (they’re just teachers, man. Her father wouldn’t hire people who were psychos) but she follows Cody’s lead because he’s cool and dangerous and has a motorcycle. What they both find out is very strange.

So what do they find out? Cody and Christie find out where the new teachers live. They all live in the same condo. The condo has no furniture except for three chairs. There’s no food in the house. The refrigerator has weird metal canisters in it. And there’s a cupboard full of WD-40.

So then some stuff happens, the cyborg teachers come home and find Cody and Christie snooping around, and suddenly there’s a big motorcycle/car chase in downtown Seattle. Cody manages to elude the cyborgs (he makes them drive off a pier into a lake) but since they’re cyborgs a little water isn’t going to stop them for very long. The cyborgs walk out of the water and, at the moment, declare absolute war on Cody and the student gang problem in Seattle. It won’t be pretty for anyone involved.

The rest of the movie is a series of escalating action sequences that are, 27 years later, still exceptional. There are gun battles, hand-to-hand brawls, and explosions galore. And because this was all before CGI, director Lester and his team had to do everything “real.” While the movie as a whole is low budget the action sequences are what set the movie apart from its low budget sci-fi action horror colleagues. Class of 1999 goes for broke and kicks ass from start to finish.

Now, some of the cyborg special effects aren’t as smooth as they would be if the production had more money. There’s a “cheesiness” to some of the imagery (the first cyborg reveal is probably the biggest “offender” here). But because Lester knows how to maximize every dollar and because the main cyborg effects are only a few smidges below the first The Terminator, nothing ever looks bad. In fact, the last full on cyborg special effect is nightmare inducing. How that cyborg isn’t an action figure, a poster series, and on a T-shirt today boggles the mind. I’m getting sort of freaked out now just thinking about it. It’s like the Tar Man from Return of the Living Dead.

There are two versions of the movie, the R rated version and the unedited version (well, three if you count the edited for TV version, but who the hell wants to do that?). I am reviewing the unedited version (I probably should have mentioned that at the beginning). The thing is, I can’t tell what the hell is different in this unedited version. There are two sequences that may be “added” (there’s a great scene where someone gets shot in the face with an Uzi at point blank range that is probably added) but I can’t really tell if the unedited version is gorier than the R rated version. I do remember the movie, when I first saw it on The Movie Channel back in the day, was pretty nasty to begin with but, again, I can’t tell what’s different. Anyone out there know what the heck the differences are between the R and unedited versions?

The performances are all quite good. Bradley Gregg is damn near perfect as Cody. He isn’t physically imposing, but he knows how to carry himself as a quiet badass. Gregg also knows how to be a smartass, and that kind of thing always helps with a character like Cody. You can see early on why his brother would follow him to the ends of the Earth and gang members want to hang out with him all of the time. If Class of 1999 had a bigger profile Gregg would no doubt be a bigger genre star. He’s that good in it.

Traci Lind does a great job as Christie. She’s cute and smart and the kind of girl that you’d want to date in high school (well, I would have wanted to date her in high school) but you can tell, right from the beginning, that she’s going to fall for bad boy Cody because that’s what girls like Christie always do. She does have good chemistry with Gregg, so that helps. She doesn’t have any major action scenes in the movie, which is shocking, but then she really isn’t the kind of girl who is going to fire a shotgun at a cyborg anyway.

Malcolm McDowell does his usual awesome job as Dr. Miles Langford. He isn’t in the movie all that much (I read somewhere that he filmed all of his scenes in two days) but he doesn’t phone anything in. His final scene is gross as hell.

StacyKeach

And Stacy Keach is creepy as all hooha as Bob Forrest. The eyes, the white wig, and the sleazy voice make this a classic character that should be more prominent in genre fandom circles. And what the hell is the deal with the banana eating and milk drinking? Bob Forrest will freak you the fuck out.

Classof199Spanking

When it comes to the cyborgs, John P. Ryan is hilariously unhinged as Mr. Hardin. His first scene as a teacher where he tries to be positive about what a hardass he’s going to be as a history teacher is a sight to behold. I don’t know how the audience doesn’t roar with laughter when he tries to glad-hand with his students while telling them that his tests are going to be impossible. And when he goes into full on discipline mode, he’s even funnier, not to mention terrifying. I’ve often wondered what Mr. Hardin would have been like if you were a student and you needed some extra help after class. Would he be as big a psycho one-on-one? Ryan was a great character actor back in his day (he died in 2007) and Mr. Hardin is a fine example of what he could do. The guy was, is, and always will be awesome as hell.

Pam Grier does a decent job as Ms. Connors. She plays Connors as cool but firm, and it’s funny watching her dispatch gang members when they don’t take her seriously (a woman teacher? Ha!). She handles herself well in the big group action scenes (she knows to break a neck) and she has to endure some pretty messed up special effects makeup at the end of the movie. Now, am I the only person who wonders why this movie doesn’t include a quick scene of Ms. Connors in her only black bra? It would have been gratuitous female almost nudity, sure, but Christie, while searching the cyborg teacher condo, makes a big deal out of Connors’ one black bra. Something to think about.

Patrick Kilpatrick is his usual intense self as Mr. Bryles. Kilpatrick is scary to look at before he becomes a killer cyborg, so when he becomes a killer cyborg watch the fuck out. His big missile scene is yet another bit that should be way more famous and iconic than it is. Great stuff.

And then there’s Joshua Miller as Angel. His performance is interesting, yes, but he seems perpetually out of it for most of his screen time. Is he playing Angel that way because he’s a damaged person high on drugs and whatnot, or is something else going on with him? Miller does know how to play the little brother, though.
Class of 1999 is a great sci-fi action horror movie. It’s about as perfect a low budget sci-fi action horror movie can be. I loved it the first time I saw it, and I still love it to this day. Why the hell isn’t it a bigger classic movie? Why doesn’t it have a big hooha special edition DVD? Why aren’t more of my fellow B-movie nerds talking about this movie? It needs to happen, man. It needs to happen.

See Class of 1999. See it, see it, goddamn see it!

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: If it’s less than 30 I’d be shocked.

Explosions: Multiple, large and small, and they’re all awesome. It’s a damn shame we don’t have more explosions like the ones here in modern low budget movies.

Nudity?: None. And I’m still surprised by that. I mean, it’s really the only thing the movie is missing.

Doobage: An Escape from New York homage, a prison hellhole, a gross as hell cyborg face, drugs, heavily armed gangs, a shrapnel wound, a wicked car chase, machine gun attack, multiple explosions, slow motion fence breaking, police brutality, a sign that says “Respect. Obey. Learn,” a classroom mugging, foot mashing, a spectacular beatdown, a hilarious cyborg teacher speech, drug addiction, a sweet motorbike, attempted rape, gym class, a nasty body slam, multiple neck snaps, barfing, forcing vials of drugs down the throat, a big gang party, a gang beating, class cutting, a black bra, a bloody crucifix, a cool motorbike crash, car diving, beer drinking, teacher harassment, kid throwing, a cool man on fire gag, a gang showdown, more explosions, choking, more neck snaps, exploding warehouse, a body is bent in half, Uzi hooey, serous neck squeezing, a spectacularly gross neck wound, more gang warfare, an attempted gang ambush, LAWS rocket hooey, exploding fence, people riding around an empty school on motorbikes, head shot, gut stabbing, hand melting, flamethrower hooey, arm missiles, seriously exploding student, light bondage, a giant hand drill, major head drilling, Uzi to the mouth at point blank range, gas hooey, axe throwing, exploding science room, exploding watchtower, major armored bus hooey, exploding school, a very disturbing cyborg, fist through the back, forklift hooey, total destruction, and a great ending.

Kim Richards?: It depends on how you want to take the one scene towards the end of the middle of the movie.

Gratuitous: Stacy Keach, Stacy Keach wearing creepy contact lenses and rocking a white mullet wig, Malcolm McDowell, John P. Ryan, Pam Grier, and Patrick Kilpatrick as cyborg teachers, drugs, gang bullshit, Kennedy High School, weapons confiscation, spanking, Patrick Kilpatrick using a full nelson on someone, John P. Ryan talking about the Trojan war, Stacy Keach eating a banana, Stacy Keach drinking milk, juice box, a switchblade knife, breaking and entering, talk about women and their bras, a discussion of traffic laws, hoops, pizza, an M203 grenade launcher, voice throwing, full on cyborg destruction, and a great ending.

Best lines: “One million megabytes,” “You look like shit, Angel,” “Wanna get high?,” “What is it? Edge, man. Best new high since skin,” “Welcome home, Ca…ca… Cody,” “See you in school, assholes,” “Looks like Hector is going to be a little late for school,” “You’re starting to turn into a real douchebag, you know? Why don’t you go fuck yourself?,” “Academics will be up. Discipline will be firm,” “I guess you gotta be a millionaire to go to school here,” “I think he said fuck you,” “That’s not very cool,” “Education at its finest,” “You wanna do something sometime?,” “I operate from a model of absolute zero tolerance,” “Anybody else?,” “Gee, it’s good to be back home. You’re all fucking pathetic!,” “Hey, think smart girls give better head?,” “Come on, lad. A little exercise will do you good,” “You oughta lay off the steroids, coach. I hear they shrink your penis,” “Drug dealing is a capital offense,” “Hey, I don’t have to take this shit from an illiterate gang banger, okay?,” “I’m a Blackheart now, Cody,” “Reach down the back of my pants. What?,” “Talk about your lean cuisine,” “Respect for private property is the foundation of a free society,” “I hate water,” “If you weren’t my brother I’d say you’re totally fucked in the head,” “Let’s go, pizza man,” “Get a blanket! Someone get a fucking blanket!,” “Why would a teacher want to get involved in a war between us and the Heads?,” “Whatever happened to education?,” “A mind is a precious thing to waste, Cody. Don’t make me waste yours,” “I’m going in there to waste some teachers. Are you with me?,” “Watch out! These things are like a bad, fucked up George Jetson nightmare!,” “Die you fucking bitch!,” “Don’t get your balls burned off!,” “I’m still coming,” “I love to mold young minds,” “You’re history, Mr. Hardin,” “Right here you mechanical bitch!,” “I guess I blew that course,” “Where’s Connors? She’s toast,” “Bob Forrest, Department of Educational Defense,” and “Have a nice stretch, coach.”

Rating: 10.0/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

TheBelkoExperiment

The Belko Experiment: I missed this when it was in theatres, but I thought the trailer was pretty cool. The movie is filled with all sorts of TV and character actors, the trailer is funny, and from everything I’ve read about it the movie is gory as hell. Some of the “important” critics didn’t care for it, but that shouldn’t keep anyone from checking it out. I know it won’t deter me from doing so. Anyone out there see this? Is it as good as it seems?

TheAutopsyofJaneDoe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe: This horror flick has received several positive reviews and the horror movie community seems to have embraced it. It never played at a movie theatre near me, so I only know it by its reputation. It’s supposed to be creepy and genuinely scary, so that’s something to look forward to. Anyone out there see this? Is Brian Cox awesome in it?

BerlinSyndrome

Berlin Syndrome: Well, this movie looks and sounds pretty dang disturbing. It’s apparently about an Australian woman who hooks up with a guy in Berlin, Germany, and ends up trapped in the guy’s apartment. She can’t leave and he won’t let her leave. People in general have to stop trusting other people, or this kind of thing is just going to keep happening again and again. Am I right or am I right? The trailer for this is pretty slick, and although I’m worried about the movie’s long ass running time (it’s almost two hours according to imdb), it looks pretty good. Very rentable.

BloodHunt

Blood Hunt: As much as people have to stop trusting other people so they don’t end up trapped in their apartments as sex slaves or whatever, people really have to stop going to the Australian outback. It never ends well for anyone who goes. Blood Hunt seems to be a sort of low budget version of that “Australian” story. It looks messed up as hell and depressing and kind of brutal. It’s supposed to look and feel like all of that, though. Rentable. And any Australian readers out there see this? Is it any good?

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B-Movie News

JigsawDoll

We’re getting an eighth Saw movie and it’s called Jigsaw: Well, we sort of knew that, eventually, someone was going to do another Saw movie. The seventh one, called The Final Chapter, was seven years ago and seemed to end the Jigsaw/John Kramer story, but the fine folks at Lionsgate have apparently figured out how to make another one. With the help of the Spierig Brothers, the people behind the still fucking awesome Daybreakers, Jigsaw is set to appear this October. Will the return of Saw and Jigsaw kick ass at the box office like the first five movies?

I’m a fan of the Saw sequels. I didn’t really care for the first movie (I knew that body on the floor in that room wasn’t just a body in the room) but the sequels were all great. The eventual wrap up and explanation of what the hell the story is really about were always my favorite parts of the movie, and I loved how we always had a new Saw movie to look forward to every year. Saw was one of the few low budget franchises that had any sort of major theatrical play. How could I miss being a part of that?

So what the heck is this Saw 8/Jigsaw movie about? The description over at imdb suggests that it has something to do with people thinking that the long dead John Kramer/Jigsaw is back killing people. How is that possible if he’s dead? Who knows? Jigsaw was killing people while dead for like four sequels, so it’s not like he’s never done that before. But is Jigsaw back?

Tobin Bell, Jigsaw, is apparently back in some form. Will he appear via flashbacks, or will he just be back because it’s a goddamn movie and that kind of thing happens in movies?

I’d like to know how the hell the producers managed to keep the movie’s production such a secret. There have been rumors for years that Lionsgate wanted to get back into the Saw business, but that’s all we ever heard. Rumors. But now there’s another movie and it’s coming out this Halloween season. How did they do that?

I’m stoked for this now that I know that it’s actually happening. I’m hoping that it’s awesome, or at least watchable. I do know that the world needs more franchises like Saw. Not so much torture porn franchises, but franchises that don’t cost all that much money to make but tend to make tons of money. Like The Purge.

Jigsaw is set to hit movie theatres on October 27th, 2017.

CartelsPoster

Steven Seagal’s new movie Cartels is set to appear next week!: Cartels was originally called Killing Salazar and has something to do with taking on international drug cartels or something like that. The great Luke Goss is in it, as is Georges St. Pierre. Most of the reviews I’ve seen for it have been less than stellar, but I’m willing to give it a shot simply because Seagal is in it and weird direct-to-video action movies are a personal favorite of mine. And check out the trailer below. There’s a guy on fire in it!

Cartels is set to hit a few theatres on July 7th (will the Cinema Village in New York City show it? Asian Connection played there) and will appear on iTunes, too. I’ll wait for it to actually hit home video, though.

Man, is it time for another Steven Seagal movie marathon? It might be.

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Coming this August: The Marine Marathon!

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Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection!

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Check out my interview with david j. moore here!

Check out my interview with the great Jino Kang here!

Check out my interview with character actor Vladimir Kulich here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Paul Mormando here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Matteo Rossi here!

Check out my interview with actor Tyrone Magnus here!

Check out my interview with Hector Barron here!

Check out my interview with Jeffrey Orgill here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Baumgarten here!

Check out my interview with actor and stuntman R. Marcos Taylor here!

Check out my interview with action movie legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson here!

Check out my interview with Paul Kyriazi, the director of Ninja Busters and Death Machines, here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Eric Jacobus here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Juju Chan here!

Check out my interview with noted stunt performer and stunt coordinator Luke LaFontaine here!
Check out my interview with film journalist Marco Siedlemann here!

Check out my interview with Revenge of the Ninja and American Ninja director Sam Firstenberg here!

Check out my interview with Amariah Olson, co-director of The Shadow Effect here!

Check out my interview with action star Alexander Nevsky here!

Check out my interview with action movie badass Mathias Hues here!

Check out my interview with actress and action star Kristanna Loken here!

Check out my interview with King Cohen: The Wild Film World of Larry Cohen director Steve Mitchell here!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Class of 1999

Bradley Gregg– Cody Culp
Traci Lind– Christie Langford
Malcolm McDowell– Dr. Miles Langford
Stacy Keach– Dr. Bob Forrest
John P. Ryan– Mr. Hardin
Pam Grier– Ms. Connors
Patrick Kilpatrick– Mr. Bryles
Joshua Miller– Angel
Darren E. Burrows– Sonny
James Medina– Hector

Directed by Mark L. Lester
Screenplay by C. Courtney Joyner, based on a story by Mark L. Lester

Distributed by Taurus Entertainment Company, Vestron Video, Live Home Video, and Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Unrated
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here or here