Thursday, April 20, 2006

We Are the Future, The Future is Now!

Just found out (thanks to Rod Lott's HITCH) that the great 80s exploitationer CLASS OF 1984 has been released on DVD. As a member of the class of 1984 fascinated with exploitation flicks and punk rock, CLASS was an early touchstone in my development as a sleaze film fan.

Perry King (TV's 'Riptide') stars as a liberal teacher who butts heads with a bunch of high school punks led by Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten). The whole thing comes off like THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE MEETS STRAW DOGS, with a sprinkling of punk rock and Nazi imagery thrown in for good measure, plus you get Roddy MacDowall and a chubby Michael J. Fox as a snitch with a bad haircut. Who could ask for more?

Van Patten, who starred in the TV series 'The White Shadow', was busy in the 1980s, thanks to his famous name and relations (dad Dick, brother Vince) and also appeared in two classic flicks from the era (ZONE TROOPERS and THE WRONG GUYS) and the prime-time martial arts series 'The Master' (co-starring trashfilm legend Lee Van Cleef).

Having accomplished more in one decade than most actors cram into entire careers, Van Patten moved into the director's chair and carved out a place for himself as one of television's most successful and respected directors. If you're a fan of 'The Sopranos' you'll recognize his name from several episodes, including "Johnny Cakes", the latest installment featuring a recently-outed Vito Spatafore finding a possible home in a gay-frienly New Hampshire town. (A concept which deserves a spin-off of its own.)

CLASS, available from Anchor Bay on a widescreen DVD with commentary and documentary, is a must-see nugget from a great era.

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