Class of 1984

Class of 1984 (1982)


Class of 1984 is available now on special edition Blu-ray.

Now and again, I like to throw in a curveball to our film selections; these curveballs often transcend genre boundaries, their place in cinematic history obscured by their narrative punch, creative flair or bravery. I do not doubt that as I write this opening, many of you may be questioning my inclusion of Class of 1984 in our 2021 Halloween countdown. After all, surely, a countdown like this is geared toward a standard horror fair? If you think that, think again! Mark L. Lester’s cult classic may have bombed on release, but since then, it has garnered far more positive attention. However, is Class of 1984 a thriller? Or is it teensploitation? Maybe it’s a socially reflective drama laced with dystopian horror?

For me, it’s all of these, and that is why this groundbreaking slice of cult cinema finds itself listed in our countdown. Lester’s Class of 1984 not only highlights the social fears of its time but does so with a pin-sharp precision that transcends the labels of any one genre. Here, the fear of youth crime, social rebellion and the growing inequality in early 80s urban America finds a unique and distinctive voice through what many would label teensploitation. Its intoxicating mix of themes pays homage to Over the Edge (1979), The Blackboard Jungle (1955) and Kubrick’s dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange (1971) while dissecting the growing American optimism of capitalism. This deadly cocktail creates a punk-laced punch as it works its way down, leaving your brain scrambled as to what you have just seen.


Like many of its contemporaries, Class of 1984 would fall foul of the censors, with the final film banned in many countries due to its sexual violence, drugs use, bullying, intimidation and blood-soaked final act. However, as with most movies banned due to content, this only enhanced the public desire to watch Class of 1984. Meanwhile, Its cult appeal would further increase following the rise of Michael J Fox as an 80s teen idol just a few years after its release.

Many have commented on whether Class of 1984 predicted the more violent society we currently inhabit, where school shootings, violence, and gangs have increased yearly alongside growing powerlessness to challenge young people. However, while many aspects of Class of 1984 still feel close to home, the film’s overarching dystopian atmosphere has not come to pass. Hence, many have argued since its release that Class of 1984 is pure teensploitation, an attempt to instil a fear of teenagers in broader society. To some degree, this is true. But that does not mean this 1982 film sits purely within fantasy or shock drama.

Many of the film’s core themes of youth violence and gang culture still play to some of our deepest fears; its core narrative reflecting several modern-day realities, from teachers guarded by security officers to metal detectors on school entrances and the fear of false allegations and career-destroying rumours. Therefore, while this punk classic may seem like a remnant of a bygone era, make no mistake, it still has a sharp edge, one that would go on to inspire a range of movies from Repo Man (1984) to Dangerous Minds (1995).


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