Perry King stars as Andy Norris, the new music teacher at run-down Abraham Lincoln High School who takes the law into his own hands and resorts to increasingly brutal methods to wrest control of his school back from pretty-boy psychopath Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) and his gang of 30-year-old high school chums, who are terrorising students and staff alike.
People are bullied, stabbed, beaten, burned alive, dismembered, run over, hanged, and fall to their death.
When the gang rapes and abducts his wife, Diane, (Merrie Lynn Ross), Norris finally takes matters into his own hands, trashing Stegman’s prized car and ending things with a brutal, nighttime cat-and-mouse showdown in the catacombs of the school during a band concert.
In classic revenge-flick fashion, Norris turns the tables and cleverly hunts down each of the gang, torturing and killing them. The message may be unpalatable, but director Mark L Lester stages the set pieces with ruthless efficiency.
A large part of Class of 1984’s personality is its atmosphere. The grimy, graffiti-covered walls of the high school, paired with the eerie and synth-tastic score by Lalo Schifrin, create a setting of decay and grime that oozes off the screen.
This ultra-violent, ultra-cynical thriller built up something of a cult following and was followed by two equally nasty sequels.
Look out for an early appearance by Michael J Fox as Arthur, the innocent trumpet player torn between helping Mr Norris or facing the wrath of Stegman and his gang (pictured below right).
Roddy McDowall appears in a fine cameo as Mr Corrigan, the frustrated comic biology teacher who goes off the deep end because he can’t teach any more.
Timothy Van Patten
Merrie Lynn Ross
Michael J Fox
Mark L Lester