You’ll never look at acupuncture or your band teacher the same way ever again after watching Audition and Class of 1984. (Art by T.J. Denton @TDenton_1138 on Twitter)
Two four-star flicks, someone shows off some enormous talent and we observe some family ties in a High School from Hell
It’s Week Two-o of Season Three-o of the Last Drive-In and can I get a “Ki-ki-ki” from y’all?
Well, we don’t blame you.
Drive-in flick savant and prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike was back for his second go-around on the Last Drive-In (his Dead or Alive was featured on the “Dinners of Death” special) with Audition, the 1999 flick that brought him global attention and made Japanese guys just a little bit more respectful and selective when re-embarking on the dating scene back at the turn of the Willennium.
Looking at it across the gulf of two decades, the whole setup of deceptively calling about 30 women in just because a lonely widower needs some company has been made ludicrous (and impractical) by online dating and so on, but the whole resolving thee being lonely thing hasn’t gone away. These days, it’s just folks swipin and scrollin on their devices and not rolling the tape in the audition room.
That does not detract from the main message though: Bad things happen when you start treating people like props who are there to serve your whims. The dance instructor (if we’re to believe the flashback) abused Asami (Eihi Siima) during her training and he got hobbled. The tongue/finger/no feet guy? (We can assume he was the missing “agent” guy.) Probably lied to her about getting her a career and also couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
And what’s the other thing we take away from Audition?
Don’t be afraid to use the resources that surround you — our pal Yuki Nakamura comes away once again as the MVP by helping out with the pronunciation of all the Japanese names. If someone around you, including the “Tokyo Cowboy,” has enormous talents, it’s wise to use them.
But are we really going to see Yuki’s delts and bewtocks later on in the season?
For all of you who crashed out, he said he’s willing at the end of our second feature, which was …
Class of 1984
The second feature, Class of 1984, was a prime example of what Joe Bob described as the “High School From Hell” genre.
Back in the 1950s, teenagers raising all sorts of hell played into the fears of all the American parental units who were aspiring toward that whole Ozzie and Harriet/Leave it to Beaver/My Three Sons nuclear family archetype. Movies featuring juvenile delinquents clad in T-shirts and leather, street racing, dripping Brylcreem and smoking and sneering at authority hit the sweet spot between fear from adults and admiration from a certain set of teens as well. Thus was born the High School From Hell flick.
Some early examples were The Blackboard Jungle and To Sir With Love and, as time went on, like a piece of bubble gum wadded up underneath one of those uncomfortable desks that has the top that opens up and really fricking hurts when a bully slams your hand in it, this flick started picking up surrounding elements. So now the High School From Hell accumulated stuff like pot dealing, torture, psychedelics and, of course, thanks to Hubbie Award winner Charles Bronson in the mid 1970s, vigilantism. Forty-plus years later, it can’t be understated these days how big a deal Death Wish and its hundred or so sequels and imitating flicks were through the 1970s and the Reagan years. (You can argue that the Dirty Harry movies got the ball rolling, but remember — roguish as he was, Clint was a cop.)
Lean on Me and Stand & Deliver were on the more inspirational and let’s face it, from a drive-in perspective, sedate Educator-on-a-Mission flicks featuring youths at risk from all angles in a crappy setting with indifferent adults who have given up until the lone savior-who-gives-a-damn rescues the youth. Think Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome without the really short guy and the head-on collisions.
Joe Bob his own self recounted his life growing up as the son of two edumicators hisownself — a history teacher dad who inspired the Earth, Texas, Lady Wolverines to basketball success and a mom who whisked non-English speaking children out of their homes and the fields and into school. Also, back then, kids were allowed to fight it out mano-y-mano behind Doc’s Pharmacy. Two kids enter, one kid leaves with his dignity intact. Different times.
Class of 1984 came out of director Mark Lester’s experience seeing a bunch of shirtless boys taking a cue from Alex de Large and mayheming it up so that fellow students feared for their lives and their SAT scores in equals amounts. There’d be others to follow: John Belushi’s younger brother James would team up with Louis Gossett Jr. in The Principal to clean up a scummy high school and if you want the indoor-bullstuff early 1990s version that gave Coolio his biggest rap hit, check out denim-clad Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.
But neither of them have anything that could compare to these totals (courtesy of our friends at Shudder):
But back to the “prophetic” 1982 four-star “based on true events” flick that spawned two sequels, the theme for this one, besides high school can be hell, is family ties.
Our savior music teacher Andrew Norris (played by Perry King) is happily married and they’re expecting their first child. One of the main students in Norris’s class at Lincoln High School is Michael J. Fox (he was in the show Family Ties) and, of course, the main baddie, Peter, is played by Timothy Van Patten of that dynastic Hollywood family (the crew needed a dang flow chart to keep it all straight, and they still ended up cutting JBB off with the movie, depriving us of additional enlightenment).
Still, an entertaining time was had by all (especially main-Ape-turned-stunt-driver Roddy McDowall), except for the main baddie who disrupted the could’ve-been-better final concert scene by dropping in unannounced.
And did anyone else notice that in this one we had a 2/3rds Lynda Day George moment from Pieces?
Two four-star spectaculars well worth revisiting with some deep dives.
What’s next? We’ll find out on Friday!