The film stars a huge cast of actors that sink their collective teeth into their roles. Malcolm McDowell ( A Clockwork Orange, Time After Time), Stacy Keach ( The Ninth Configuration, Escape from L.A), Pam Grier ( Coffy, Jackie Brown) and John P. Ryan ( It's Alive, The Right Stuff) all play their roles with such Gonzoholic glee, you cannot wait to see what will happen next.
The premise of the film is a simple one:
The time is the future and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some schools have become "free fire zones," into which not even the police will venture. When Miles Langford, the principal of Kennedy High School, decides to take his school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr. Robert Forrest provides "tactical education units." These human-like androids have been programmed to teach and are supplied with weapons to discipline problems. These kids will get a lesson, in staying alive!
The future, here, is indeed desolate; gone are the days of being bullied at the bus stop. Cody Culp and his brothers, Sonny and Angel, members of the Blackhearts gang, are driving to school through the "Free Fire Zone", a no-man's land void of any semblance of law and order when they are attacked by a rival gang of Razorheads. Of course, the ensuing car chase and gunfight ends at the gates of the High school where all students are warned that if caught on school premises with an automatic weapon, they will be detained and turned over to the proper authorities.
We know immediately that in the future, all bets are off. Due to the ultraviolence, the Department of Education Defense (D.E.D.) is working with MegaTech's, Dr. Bob Forrest (Stacy Keach), an albino madman who has retrofitted a trio of former military robots to provide the education and discipline in the hopes of squashing the gang trouble.
The former military robots solve each problem with extreme prejudice and extremely increasing violence, from a public and painful spanking to force-feeding vials of drugs to students, to 80's classic, neck-snapping goodness. These Terminators couldn't care less if apples are left on their desks. When Cody realizes they are killing students and no one will listen to his punk-ass, he takes it upon himself, and all his gangbanging friends to bring the fight to them.
Vestron has put together solid releases in the past, and Class of 1999 continues the trend with a "digitally restored" 1080p- 16x9 Widescreen – 1.85:1 presentation which shows its flaws in places, but for the most part, it looks like a solid transfer. The audio is the original 2.0 Stereo with a DTS HD upgrade and the explosions, and even the sounds of gunfire and ambient noises all have surprisingly great dynamic range.
Although only one disc, it too received a decent amount of special features of note, "School Safety", "New Rules" and "Cyber Teachers From Hell" are all recommended featurettes. Although the entire package is worth the price of admission, if you weren't a huge fan at the time it came out, you will appreciate it more now asit was a fun, dystopian view of the future. It makes you thankful that the filmmakers weren't as prescient as they like to believe themselves to be.'
Class of 1999 wasn't a high art film but for what they intended, it was a fun and sadistic romp. Unfortunately, due to the financial trouble, Vestron was going through at the time, it sold the rights to another company, and eventually "Class" received only a limited theatrical release. Afterward, like so many other films of its kind, it found a small but loyal following on VHS and eventually DVD. Spend a few bucks and enjoy this one. In this school, Academics will be up, Discipline will be firm!
Grade: B +
- Audio Commentary by Producer/Director Mark L. Lester
- School Safety (1080p; 22:33) offers interviews with Director and Producer Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola.
- New Rules (1080p; 19:27) features an interview with screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner.
- Cyber Teachers from Hell (1080p; 19:30) has interviews with Special Effects Creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton.
- Future of Discipline (1080p; 19:04) wraps up this Blu-ray disc's allotment of interview featurettes with Director of Photography Mark Irwin.
- Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:59)
- TV Spots (1080i; 1:02)
- Still Gallery (1080p; 8:42)
- Video Promo (1080i; 7:47)