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Class of 1999

Entry updated 24 August 2020. Tagged: Film.

1. Film (1990). Lightning/Original/Vestron. Produced and directed by Mark L Lester. Written by C Courtney Joyner, based on a story by Lester. Cast includes Bradley Gregg, Pam Grier, Stacy Keach, Patrick Kilpatrick, Traci Lin, Malcolm McDowell and John P Ryan. 98 minutes. Colour.

In the USA of 1999 most Cities have no-go "Free Fire" zones ruled by teenage gangs, and many schools are closed. As an experiment, the Department of Educational Defense uses ex-military Androids for teachers, re-opening a school in Seattle. The androids – even the attractive Black "chemistry teacher from Hell" (Grier) – revert to military conditioning and run amok with disciplinary measures against the drug-taking, gang-warring students, killing many. This violent, amusingly over-the-top exploitation movie features every killer-Robot cliché found in movies from Westworld (1973) to The Terminator (1984), but for a low-budget film Eric Allard's mechanical effects are good, and the direction is capable. [PN]

2. The sequel is Class of 1999 II: The Substitute (1993). Directed by Spiro Razatos, Written by Mark Sevi. Cast includes Nick Cassavetes, Caitlin Dulany, Rick Hill, Jack Knight and Sasha Mitchell. 87 minutes. Colour

This is a more modest film, quite well made, with an interesting plot twist that calls into question the science-fictionality of the whole thing. The story tells, or appears to, of yet another battle 'droid masquerading as a substitute teacher and wreaking havoc among particularly unpleasant and violent high-school students. [PN]


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