- Movie Rating -

Class of 1984 (1982)

| August 20, 1982

I have a colleague who has a deep, passionate love for Class of 1984 that I am afraid that I can’t quite share.  He has seen this movie countless times, has been over every scene, every line of dialogue and can draw out a weird amount of pseudo-analysis both satirical and cultural.  The dance in his eyes when he talks about it is kind of sweet.  Yet, I am not one to cast stones.  I know that I’ve talked to him in the same way about Poltergeist and we probably looks at me with pitied admiration.

I’ve seen Class of 1984 twice, once as an initial viewing and then again at his urging.  There won’t be a third trip to the well because, I’m sorry, I find that well to be a bit dry.  For me, this is one of those dull high-school-hell kind of movies in which one particular institution of learning has become such a squalid hellhole that gangs of punks are allowed to rule the school with such violence and intimidation.

Our hero in this is Andrew Norris (Perry King), a handsome and well-meaning music teacher who has been brought into this inner-city nightmare and immediately runs afoul of the school’s unquestioned leader – a weirdo thug named Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) whose personality comes in two flavors, violence and charisma.  He’s so intimidating that the faculty have either moved one, been worn down or are simply too afraid to confront him.  The only member of the faculty that seems willing to fight back is the biology teacher Mr. Corrigan (Roddy McDowell) who threatens the students with a gun during class – learn from this or else – in a scene that I found both silly and horrifying.

Norris tries to deal with Stegman through all means of reason, threats and eventually violence.  The back half of the movie has Norris going toe to toe with Stegman’s gang after they invade his home and rape his wife.  It’s one of those stalk and slash kind of confrontations in which everyone dies in a weird way – one is set on fire, one is killed on a band saw, one is hung from a rope.

So, back to my colleague and his pseudo-intellectual analysis of See Above.  His verbal essay essentially tells us that this is an allegory for the American landscape in the years after Vietnam, a society that cannot sustain itself and must use violence as a means to justify an end.  It’s an interesting theory, but one that I guess he brought with him to the movie.  I didn’t see it, particularly when the kid was being chopped up on the band saw or when Stegman asked “What’s the matter with you?  What’s the matter with me?  What’s the matter with matter?”  What a poet.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Drama