By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: The teachers are robots.
The year is 1999 and American high schools are running rampant with drugs and gang warfare. In an attempt to try to regain some control administrators have hired on a company run by Dr. Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach) who has created teachers who look human, but are actually robots capable of exerting extreme punishment on those students who get out-of-line. A Seattle high school is chosen as a venue to test these robots out with Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell) being the only human instructor made aware of these other teacher’s identities. At first things go well and civil behavior from the unruly teens is attained, but then the teachers get out-of-control where even their creators are unable to rein them in, so it is up to some rebel teen students lead by Cody (Cody Culp) to fight them off and stop them.
This is a sort-of sequel to writer/director Mark L. Lester’s earlier Class of 1984 and in many ways on a low budget scale it’s alright. I watched this film with my Cinema Terrible group here in Austin where we get together each month to watch two really bad movies. Usually everyone spends the time making fun at what they are watching, but this film surprisingly kept them quiet and captivated, which no one had initially expected. Lester has directed 33 of these types of films since 1971 and he knows how to deliver. His product certainly isn’t on an Academy Award winning level, but for those looking for some cheap non-think entertainment with a fast pace and decent effects then this ain’t too bad.
The best element of the film is John P. Ryan, Pam Grier and Patrick Kilpatrick as the three teacher robots. Ryan especially owns the screen during all of his scenes and the part where he takes some difficult students one-by-one over his knee and gives them a nice long, hard spanking is without question the best moment of the whole movie. Grier though is good too and during the climatic sequence she runs around essentially topless with her chest ripped open and her computer parts exposed, which I found to be well done. McDowell is the only one of the familiar names who is wasted and apparently only worked 2 days on the production.
The film’s biggest issue is that it has no sense of humor despite its over-the-top campy premise. The teen cast show minimal acting ability and their characters come off like walking, talking clichés. In a lot of ways this film would have been better had the evil teacher robots been portrayed as ‘the good guys’ and instead of being annihilated at the end by the students they were the ones who eradicated all of the mouthy, crude and disrespectful teens, which some would consider to be much more of a ‘happy ending’.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: May 11, 1990
Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes
Director: Mark L. Lester
Studio: Vestron Pictures
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube
Posted in 90's Movies, Action/Adventure, Adolescence/High School, Low Budget, Movies with Nudity, Sci-Fi, Thrillers/Suspense
Tagged Entertainment, John P. Ryan, Malcolm McDowell, Mark L. Lester, Movies, Pam Grier, Review, Stacy Keach
By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Whoopi hates drug dealers.
Rita Rizzoli (Whoopi Goldberg) is a narcotics cop out to nab Conrad Kroll (Harris Yulin) who she believes is behind a recent shipment of a drug called ‘fatal beauty’ that is an unusually pure type of cocaine that can prove to be instantly deadly to those who unwittingly take it. Unfortunately Kroll has too much money and connections and proves to be untouchable, so she starts an uneasy alliance with Kroll’s security man Mike (Sam Elliot) that is amusing, interesting and revealing for both parties.
Goldberg is fantastic in the lead and one of the reasons this movie works. Her personality and streetwise humor is engaging. The role was originally intended for Cher who had enjoyed working with Elliot in Mask and wanted to do another project with him, but for some reason when the part finally got offered she turned it down. I actually had a hard time seeing Cher in the part and felt Whoopi did it better. The only issue of course is that the character is a black woman, but also supposedly Italian, which doesn’t make much sense. The part where Mike tells her how much he enjoys an Italian women’s eyes seems absurd and you would have thought somebody would have realized this and altered the dialogue and the character’s name, but didn’t and this becomes the film’s biggest loophole although it is a relatively minor one that doesn’t interfere with the overall enjoyment.
The pairing of Elliot and Goldberg may initially seem odd, but for me it worked and their ongoing banter is the most entertaining thing about the movie. My only quibble is that as a sort of reconciliation gift the Elliot character buys Rita a $5,000 dress, which seemed way overboard especially when a relationship between the two had not been established.
Brad Dourif is terrific as the bad guy and weaves a nice balance between being campy and sinister. Ruben Blades is fun as Rita’s rather inept police partner and Jennifer Warren gets a funky moment when she gets into a big drawn out physical fight with Rita while in front of some shocked and refined guests at a garden party.
The only part that doesn’t really work is John P. Ryan’s as an overly-stressed police sergeant, which doesn’t gel and is not funny. Cheech Marin can be spotted in a brief bit as a bartender.
The story itself lacks originality and at times gets convoluted and even confusing. Mixing moments of humor with gritty scenes of graphic violence gives the whole thing a very uneven feel. Yet there were still some segments that I like and even got into including the part where Rita finds herself trapped and surrounded while inside a crack house. I found the dialogue to be sharp and witty and am at a loss as to why critic Leonard Maltin describes it as being ‘mind-bogglingly awful’ in his book and my only conclusion is that he just didn’t get the humor and should probably give it another view.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: October 30, 1987
Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes
Director: Tom Holland
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video
Posted in 80's Movies, Action/Adventure, Buddy Movies, Comedy/Drama, Police Drama
Tagged Brad Dourif, Cher, Entertainment, Jennifer Warren, John P. Ryan, Movies, Review, Ruben Blades, Sam Elliot, Whoopi Goldberg