Class of 1999 II: The Substitute

(Spiro Razatos, USA, 1994)


Here’s a recommendation for a spirited B movie, crazily inventive as only low-budget sequels can be: Class of 1999 II: The Substitute.

This film – distant relative to Mark Lester’s sensationalist action flick Class of 1984 (1982) – has a wonderful opening.

A nerdy looking guy enters a school corridor, on his first day at work as a substitute teacher. Hearing muffled cries for help, he opens a door and is immediately mugged. Out strides his substitute – a fascistic android (Sasha Mitchell) programmed to exterminate all students!

One recurring motif in ’90s exploitation cinema is the overlaying of all the usual macho stuff – the fights, deaths, car crashes and explosions – with a soapie romantic intrigue usually centred on a sympathetic heroine.

Here, director Spiro Razatos (a prolific stuntman, with only one other directorial credit since this) and writer Mark Sevi (a veteran of many intriguing B films) have conjured a salutary triangle. The smart, sassy Jenna (Caitlin Dulany) wavers between her wimpy New Age guy (Nick Cassavetes) and Sasha the android – who at least has rock solid ideals.

By the time we reach the climax, with the aggro students of the future on school excursion at a war games camp, all of the characters have undergone fanciful evolutions and transformations.

A dizzying combination of surreal plot events and multiple genres, Class of 1999 II is a must for hardcore video/DVD buffs.

© Adrian Martin May 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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