Filmmaker Mark L. Lester has sure made a name for himself in cinema world, mostly being movies from the 1980s. He gave us some of the most homoerotic action films from that time, including ‘Commando‘ and ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo‘ to name a few. ‘Class of 1999‘ is no different either and is a sibling sequel to his film a few years beforehand in ‘Class of 1984‘. With ‘1984‘, you had a new teacher come to a violent high-school where most of the kids are in gangs and try to make a difference. Things get out of hand for sure.
When we cut to ‘Class of 1999‘, the same kind of setup is provided, but this time the gangs of kids are forced to deal with new teachers that are actually robots hellbent on not just teaching lessons, but taking lives too. You can see the similarities between ‘Robocop‘, ‘Westworld‘, ‘Terminator‘, with a little ‘Fury Road‘ throughout the film as a recent student named Cody (Bradley Gregg from ‘Stand By Me‘), who has just gotten out of jail and wants to change his ways, enters the high school with the new teachers who are in fact robots that look human.
These robots, played by Patrick Kilpatrick, John P. Ryan, and Pam Grier don’t mess around and are not above beating students bloody, killing them, and in some of the more homoerotic scenes – spanking them hundreds of times in front of people. Don’t get me wrong, these high-schoolers need discipline, but to what ends? The students must band together and fight these robot teachers, while trying not to kill each other. The nostalgic 80’s wardrobe, one-liners, practical effects, and feel all comes to light in this one movie. It’s a trip down memory lane and is still quite fun to watch, even if the whole story and premise is over-the-top and ridiculous.
The film always sticks to its guns and goes all the way, never afraid to turn away to violence or even its cheesiness. This is what the early 80’s thought the future was going to be like as far as education and students go, which needless to say, they had no faith in us. It also gives us a satire on how far should the government and private companies go in showing discipline at schools. ‘Class of 1999‘ is sure as hell entertaining, even to this day, and has some fun cameos, including Stacy Keach and Malcolm McDowell. The practical effects of the robots and gory wounds all look excellent with no sign of CGI yet. I still love this film.
The Video: ‘Class of 1999‘ comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Vestron says this is a newly remastered and digitally restored print and it looks very good for one of those early 80’s action movies. There are some problems here though for sure. Grain is to be expected with these films and I even welcome even layers of grain that give movies filmic presentations and not something looks like it’s been put through a digital sleek carwash. Being a low-budget 80’s action film there is heavy grain and sometimes, the grain gathers together and causes very heavy moments in the picture that can make it look murky.
Luckily, most of this happens very early on in the film and the problem seems to fix itself as time passes. There are still some scratches and warps here and there, but it’s all part of the nostalgic experience. Colors look great with all of the 80’s wardrobe in their hyper colors standing out nicely. The lime green goo inside the robots stand out, as well as the buckets of red blood in well-lit scenes. Black levels deep for the most part, but in some instances they can bleed over. Skin tones are natural too. The detail is sharp and vivid in well-lit interiors and gets better towards the end of the film, where you can make out individual hairs and gory mechanics from the robots easily. This is the best looking print of the film we have now and it’s mostly satisfying.
The Audio: This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix and it sounds quite good. I wish there was a 5.1 option to achieve the big surround sounds of all the explosions, gunshots, and immersive school sounds, but there wasn’t. Still, this 2.0 track brings the heft with good low ends and great dynamics. The sound effects are loud and robust with gunshots and explosions packing a decent punch.
Other mechanical sounds or takedowns are good as well, even if they are a bit cheesy. The score and music of the film adds that nostalgic era of the 80’s to it with good popping crescendos and heavy metal. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand and free of any pops, cracks, and hiss.
Audio Commentary – Director Mark L. Lester talks about making the film, his career, the practical effects, casting, story, satire, and more. I enjoyed this commentary.
School Safety (HD, 23 Mins.) – Interviews with the director and producer of the film as they talk about story, tone, casting, and the production.
New Rules (HD, 20 Mins.) – Interview with the screenwriter who talks about his vision and the themes of the story.
Cyber Teachers From Hell (HD, 20 Mins.) – The visual effects masters talk about creating all of the awesome effects for the film and just how much went into it all.
Future of Discipline (HD, 19, Mins.) – The DP talks about the shoot, the visual aspects of the future, and more.
Video Promo (SD, 8 Mins.) – An old EPK type of feature discussing the making of the movie.
Trailers (HD, 2 Mins.) – A couple of trailers for the film.
Still Gallery (HD, 9 Mins.) – A collage of production and promotional photos.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘Class of 1999‘ still holds up today with excellent visual effects that are all practical. They don’t make em like this anymore for sure. The satire is great and the action is in your face, even if there is a little homoerotic tones throughout, but what 80’s action movie didn’t have this. It’s still a fun-as-hell film. The video looks good, but has some problems still, and the audio sounds great too, although I’d wish for a 5.1 mix too. The extras are fun to watch, however there are no actors from the film found anywhere on the supplements. All that being said, ‘Class of 1999‘ is Recommended!