I remember when I first saw "Class Of 1984" in the early eighties, it seemed like a bad futuristic nightmare. Living back in Germany at the time, a world so dark and menacing as it was depicted in the film was simply unthinkable. How times have changed. What played like horrific science fiction in 1982 has become reality and is even surpassed by current day events. It is a sad statement on how our society has regressed in as little as 20 years, undoing generations of cultural evolution.
The film tells the story of young, idealistic teacher Andy Norris (Perry King) who is taking on his first teaching job at Lincoln High, a crime-infested school. Before long he has a run-in with the local kingpin Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) and his gang. But the young teacher is not giving up, hoping to put Stegman on the right path, while the young man is much more interested in tearing the teacher apart limb by limb and making his life his own private little Hell. The show-down is not only memorable, but shocking, thought-provoking and saddening.
As I mentioned in opening, the film no longer has the effect on the viewer it had in 1982. Not only has reality caught up with the film, but we have also seen countless rip-offs of the movie's motive in an endless string of films, "borrowing" whole scenes and plot twists from the original, watering down the experience in the process.
And yet, the film makes a statement still. Scary and menacing, it is a lesson how a few misguided individuals can quickly become a big threat to their surroundings. The violence in the film may be debatable today, but it had its purpose back when the film was made, driving the full force of the story home mercilessly. Little did we know back then that only 15 years later we would be seeing high school kids shoot each other and their faculty in broad daylight. The interesting thing, for me, is the fact that the exact people who watched the film in 1982 in shock have contributed so much to the fact that this utopia has become reality. The kids putting on their idiotic gangsta-images today, the kids of Columbine High, the moronic street racers, they are all children brought up by parents who watched "Class Of 1984" in horror back in the days - without learning anything from it. Sad, isn't it? Maybe it is time for parents to wake up and realize that they have responsibilities by raising children and that they should take those responsibilities a little more seriously or they may one day wake up to the sound of gunfire themselves. You can't always blame others for the decay of society. Society and culture starts and ends with ourselves and in our homes.
The film features a good cast that pulls of the story well, still providing some chills during their portrayals. You will be able to spot a very young Michael J. Fox in the cast as well as screen legend Roddy McDowall.
Anchor Bay Entertainment is delivering a stellar transfer of the film. The image is virtually free of grain or blemishes and offers up a good level of detail. Color reproduction is balanced and looks very natural throughout without ever dating the film. Skin tones are faithfully rendered and the colors are vibrant and true. Black levels are solid, giving the image good visual depth and rendering the shadows without breaking up. No edge enhancement or compression artifacts are evident, making this film a pleasure to watch.
The DVD features a remixed 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track which nicely brings to life the film. From the opening song "I Am The Future" by Alice Cooper to the closing chords of the movie, it is a powerful, edgy sound track that is as gritty as the story itself. Dialogues are well integrated and are always understandable.
The release also contains some great supplements, such as a commentary track by director Mark Lester. This commentary discusses the production of the movie as well as the cultural and social subject it touches upon. I found it very interesting to listen to as it is full of references and additional detail-explanations.
"Blood And Blackboards" is a new featurette that has also been included on the release. It features interviews with director Mark Lester, and actors Perry King and Merrie Lynn Ross as it covers many aspects of the film and its production, as well the change we have seen in our society.
The release further contains trailers and TV spots as well as a photo gallery of posters and still images.
"Class Of 1984" is not the film it was in 1982, so much is clear, but I found it a great experience to revisit nonetheless. The social comment of the film is as true today as it was 24 years ago – if not more so – and I still think the film is thought-provoking on a number of levels. It is saddening that the future predicted in the film has indeed arrived years ago. And we can now go back to see the prediction in Anchor Bay's great-looking release.