A sort of quasi-sequel/reboot of Class of 1984, Class of 1999 is centred on a school where violence has continued to rise. The chosen solution is to ‘demilitarise’ the school with killer robots instead of teachers, all part of a fascist police state on a massive scale. Electronic signs flash slogans like OBEY, no doubt a reference to They Live…
It rehashes the plot of the first one for the most part. Youth gangs have taken over the school, but there is a new kid at school who’s on parole. He ends up having a romance with the principal’s daughter. The gangs join up to defeat the robots—of course.
It’s not as good as the first one, but pretty enjoyable all the same. It has a good cast, with actors like Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach (who plays an albino), and Pam Greer in one of her first roles after her early heyday. It’s a fun, fascist-police-state movie, and lives up much more to the futuristic, Mad Max-type promise of the first film’s poster than Class of 1984 itself did.
From all accounts it was a complicated film to shoot, with a lot of budget issues. The film was also delayed when the distributor went out of business. It was shot by Mark Irwin, who shot all of Cronenberg’s early films, so knew what he was doing. During filming in Seattle, they went looking for music to include, they happened to drop in on an unknown band called Nine Inch Nails in a local club. They asked the singer if they could use any of their work, and of course he said yes—and so they ended up with an early Trent Reznor song on the soundtrack. Also present: John Moore & the Expressway (Moore was a guitar player in the Jesus and Mary Chain) and Midge Ure.
The disk includes a commentary with the director; a slew of interviews with Lester, one of the producers and screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner; stuff on special effects with Irwin, TV spots, stills and a video promo.