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Class Of 1984 – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Class-Of-1984Drug Dealing. Gang Beatings. Prostitution. They’re all part of a typical day for the students of Lincoln High. Take a trip into this academic abyss with Scream Factory’s release of Class of  1984. The film makes its Blu-ray debut as part of a Collector’s Edition Combo Pack that comes loaded with bonus features, including new interviews with director Mark Lester, composer Lalo Schifrin and actors Perry King, Lisa Langlois and Erin Noble, new career retrospective interview with Perry King, audio commentary with director Mark Lester, the featurette Blood and Blackboards, which includes interviews with director Mark Lester, actors Perry King and Merrie Lynn Ross, and more!  This packed disc is the first Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory in 2015.  Hard to believe, I know!

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Film 

In Class of 1984, Andy Norris, an idealistic and naive music teacher who has moved into the Lincoln High community with his pregnant wife Diane. Appalled by the crime-infested school, Norris soon crosses sabers with its teenage kingpin, the shrewd and sadistic Peter Stegman. With Norris setting his sights on reforming Stegman, the young miscreant declares war on his teacher, and the duo sets a fateful showdown into motion on the night of an important school orchestra performance.

There are a lot of notable names that worked on Class Of 1984.  Perry King, Lalo Schifrin, Michael J Fox, Tom Holland, Roddy McDowall, Timothy Van Patten and Mark Lester.  Director Mark Lester might not be a household name, but if I bring up Commando, Firestarter, Showdown In Little Tokyo and for the cool kids, Roller Boogie, you might go “oh yeah”.  Class Of 1984 is the film he did right before taking on Commando and changing the action movie for the decade.  His favorite film he’s ever done happens to be this one it just so happens.

Class Of 1984 is a cult classic, midnight movie in all facets.  Its a rough film that isn’t afraid to touch delicate matter and “go there” with its twisted darkness.  The film has that dirty, grungy look to it that matches the content.  Its also one that embraces the punk stylings of the early 1980s.  The movie features some good violence, one-liners and gore.  And it all ends in a crowd pleasing run of action, violence, revenge and bloodshed.

The cast here is pretty terrific.  Perry King is a badass and gives a hell of a performance to answer “yes” to carrying the film.  He’s accompanied by the late-great Roddy McDowall who gets a notable role and some good “trailer scenes”.  Lisa Langlois gets to play a bad girl and is super adorable in her punk attire and pink hair.  We get to see a very young Michael J Fox who was coming over to this from Family Ties.  Another person present in your ears but not the eyes is Alice Cooper who sings the catchy title song for the film that gives an extra edge to the film’s character.

I really like Class Of 1984 quite a bit.  Its sort of in its own little world, but also a part of a genre of films with scholastic violence with inner city schools.  This would make for a bangin’ awesome double feature with the Linda Blair/Danny Steinmann cult classic Savage Streets.  One is a teacher’s revenge on a gang, the other a student getting hers on a gang.  I wonder how much Troma’s Class Of Nuke ‘Em High is a riff on this movie after watching it.  I’ll have to go back and take a look at that one (A Troma favorite of mine).  I’m sure this is a movie that not a lot of common movie-goers are familiar with, but they should definitely check it out as I think it still works and is a film that builds to a hell of an ending.  Its that sort of stand up and cheer kind of late night film.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Personally I really liked the picture on this one.  It looks very natural and makes the world this takes place in look very cold, rough and used.  The picture is pretty sharp and there are instances that the detail will really impress.  There was a part with a character sitting on a couch and you could see the exact workings on the stitching and my memory actually reminded me of what those felt like back in the day.  Brick and other surfaces show quite impressive detail with cracks, scuffs and the like.

Depth:  This one has a nice look to it.  Its not some wow’ing 3-dimensional image, but things look nice, clear and have clean, smooth, loose movements and not much blur.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich.  Minuscule detail hidden.  Really good shading and detail is still discernible on black hair/clothing/surfaces in properly lit sequences.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty rich and nice without overdoing it or being extremely vibrant.  Greens are nice and bold.  Reds are the highlight.  There are a couple instances where it pushes bleeding to a limit without doing so.  I really did like the look of the colors here in the film.  The palette looks quite accurately displayed.

Flesh Tones:  Natural and consistent.  Close ups provide a look at wrinkles, pores, stubble, scuffs, scratches and scars.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean for the most part.  There is a nice layer of grain and some blue markings that appear just a couple times that I think are there to signify a reel change.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This is a really nice clean audio track.  There’s a looseness and balance between vocals, effects and score.  The violence in the film is really impactful and pretty strong and deep for a Scream release too.

Low Frequency Extension:  Smashes, crashes, explosions and gunshots all get a nice enhancement from the sub.  The score’s bass also has a nice pickup.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The front speakers pick up a nice flow and go with the movements and environmental placement of the characters and action.  The rear speakers have a nice ambiance and music treatment to them.  There are also little notes of disruption during bigger action sequences.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are nice, crisp, clear and present.

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Extras 

The cover insert comes with reversible art that features the original theatrical poster.

Audio Commentary

  • With Perry Martin and Mark Lester

The Girls Next Door (HD, 16:17) – Interviews with Lisa Langlois and Erin Noble. One thing I love is that the lovely Lisa talks about her desire to play against type and how she pushed for the role she had which wasn’t the one they wanted her for.  They both really get into nice discussion about Timothy Van Patten.  Please note that Erin Noble’s audio sounds like its in a can and cuts out in the early seconds of the interview.

History Repeats Itself (HD, 21:00) – Interviews with director Mark Lester and composer Lalo Schifrin.  Lester reiterates some stuff from Blood & Blackboards, but has a lot more to say and reveal about it.  Like the fact that the X-rated version was the one that played in theaters, but nobody realized it.  Schifrin talks about his process on working on the film and his search for inspiration.

Do What You Love (HD, 46:55) – Interview with Perry King.  The actor gives a full on career retrospective.  From fatherly advice at a young age and his first film onward.

Blood & Backboards (HD, 35:35) – A retrospective look back at the production with Mark Lester, Perry King and Merrie Lynn Ross (Different interview sessions than the previous interviews).  It tells a story of a short window of a Canadian production that never felt hurried.  Includes a fun anecdote about the original ending of the film.

Trailer and TV Spots (HD, 3:20) 

Still Gallery – 53 images of poster art, VHS art, lobby cards and promotional stills.

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Summary 

It may have been a while since we’ve seen a Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory, but rusty is something they’re not.  Class Of 1984 Collector’s Edition is a terrific release.  Video quality is pretty top notch and has a remarkable clean look.  The audio to accompany is quite good as well.  The extras provide a nice full scope from many different angles and perspectives via the interviews provided.  This film is one not only has the midnight movie/cult film thing going for it, but its actually rooted in true concern and an exaggerated notion of real world school violence.  While it looks like cult fun, its actually a pretty good film aside from that.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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