Whilst Mark L Lester is most certainly best known for Commando, it is Class of 1984 that is arguably his best work. It’s a teen-dystopian set movie where kids routinely pass through metal detectors into school and everyone is armed, including the teachers. The school is run by a gang of punk-rock/hardcore kids led by the insane but brilliant Timothy Van Patten as Stegman. It’s a frighteningly unhinged performance from Van Patten and for a teenage character, he is memorably evil.
When new teacher, Mr Norris, joins the staff he refuses to stand by as Stegman is allowed to terrorise the school and deal drugs to the students. As he tries to combat Stegman’s hold on the school the actions of both escalate extremely. Class of 1984 is part-teen comedy at times, part exploitation revenge movie, for all its slightly tongue-in-cheek set-ups and lines, there are also some truly shocking moments.
The acting throughout is surprisingly good and while the story is similarly seen in a number of other films, it's very well executed and it has a great soundtrack. There’s a very early appearance from Michael J Fox here too.
The serious message which Lester was shooting for was dismissed by some critics at the time and since, but given recent world events around mass shootings and gun control it’s possibly reached its time to become more relevant. Particularly when viewing one of the stand out scenes involving Roddy McDowell as a Biology teacher giving a lesson to his class at gunpoint.
Film graduate and Project Manager from Newcastle Upon Tyne, horror obsessive, defender of underappreciated movies, lover of old school wrestling, catalogue of useless music trivia, aspiring author and all round moaner