“When does a dream become a nightmare?
When do we learn to live with fear?
When we cry out for some salvation?
Why is it no one seems to hear?”
When your movie has an Alice Cooper theme song and exudes punk rock menace, you get my attention. Mark Lester’s 1982 kids against teachers drive-in epic boasts a Tom Holland story (he co-scripted as well) and a truly no future mindset.
Andrew Norris (Perry King) has come to a new school to teach music, but he’ll soon learn that this is a war. That fact is continually taught to him by Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowall, always perfect), an older teacher who carries a gun.
The teachers are more babysitters and cops than educators. When they’re up against the gang led by Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), there’s really no way that they can win.
These kids are absolutely the worst human beings ever, like movie serial villains in punk fashions. Things reach a climax when Terry’s beloved animals are murdered, sending him into a suicidal rage. And then, somehow that is topped when the gang assaults Andrew’s wife and places a polaroid of it on his podium right before a band concert. Can it get more insane? Sure. Terry and Peter fistfight on the roof, ending with the offending young person goes crashing through a window, being hung as the entire band concert watches.
Let me explain how crazy that is in real life, because the wife who gets so abused is played by Merrie Lynn Ross, Lester’s wife.
This movie is packed with stars. And by stars, I mean people only I care about like Stefan Arngrim from Fear No Evil, Keith Knight from Meatballs and My Bloody Valentine and Lisa Langlois from Happy Birthday to Me and Deadly Eyes. Oh yeah. Some guy named Michael J. Fox is in this too.
By the way, if the police station seems familiar, that’s because it was the same one as Black Christmas. And Van Patten was a renaissance man on this movie, as he wrote the concerto his character performs and even made Drugstore’s graffiti-covered shirt. He still is, as he’s the director making the new Perry Mason series on HBO.