Dir: Alan Arkush
Starring: P.J. Soles, Paul Bartel, The Ramones
The Film: Who doesn’t love a good musical? How about when the music is rock and features The Ramones? Oh yes ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, the complete opposite of GREASE that actually features the band whose music they use. This is a fun film from a time of teenage rebellion, from the Roger Corman camp directed by Allan Arkush.
Vince Lombardi High School has come under the oppression of Miss Togar (Mary Woronov), who wants nothing to do with that evil rock ‘n’ roll. Bad luck for her because the students at the school love music, led by Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) who provides her fellow students with music and even concert tickets. Miss Togar wont stand for any of it, and winds up banning Riff from a Ramones concert after finding out she has skipped three days of school to get the tickets. But Riff and her best friend Kate (Dey Young) wont stand for it so they embark on a journey of rebellion against the school tyrant.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL is a film filled with crazy characters, a high school that feels like anything but and some darn fine music. This is a product of the time it was made, it’s almost like looking into a history book of how the teens in the late 70’s felt. It might not be a realistic portrayal but their mentality and love of the music rings very true. Riff is obsessed with The Ramones, she is someone we can easily relate to because we too have been obsessed with a singer or a group. Her love of music and obsession with the band have gotten her into song writing and she wants to give her song to the band. This drives her actions through the film, it’s actually a pretty good motivation and it sets in motion all the events that happen.
The musical scenes are so well done, they will surely still have audiences jumping up and dancing or bopping around. It really succeeds in that area, the film was designed for teens and young adults, if it was dull it wouldn’t have the staying power it has had. Props certainly go out to Allan Arkush and Joe Dante for their ideas and passion with the film, and even to The Ramones for not only having their music in the film but for being an on screen part of it. Generally you find films with a band, really focus on them and have them starring, however The Ramones aren’t starring and they when they are in the film it’s funny and they play music.
As great as The Ramones are, the real star of this film is P.J. Soles who is truly fantastic as Riff. She’s got the spunk factor, she’s fun, cute, courageous and passionate. Soles plays her with a very tongue in cheek performance, and she’s giving it her all. Riff is a memorable character because of that great performance, when she is on screen that’s where my eyes were. Funnily enough, another stand out is Clint Howard, in a very bizarre role, that he some how manages to pull off. The entire cast do a really outstanding job, and no doubt they had fun making this one.
Whether you were a teen of the late 70’s or not, this is a film for everyone. It’s classic for that era, it’s a good comedy and musical, that can be enjoyed countless times. It’s a Roger Corman produced classic and the chance is now here to experience it on a whole new level.
The Australian DVD
Video/Audio: Video is presented in 1.77:1 widescreen and 2.0 Dolby audio.
Both the audio and visual for this blu-ray release are very impressive. This is as great as you could hope for with an upgrade of this film. The picture quality is very good, its quite sharp and extremely vibrant. It suffers from a bit of noise, however it isn’t anything that will tarnish the experience. The audio is crisp and sharp, the music is fantastic and you can certainly hear it clearly.
* Audio Commentary with Allan Arkush, Michael Finnell and Richard Whitley
* Back to School: A Retrospective. The making of the movie with interiviews from Allan Arkush, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dey Young, Marky Ramone, Loren Lester and more.
* Interview with Roger Corman
* Original audio out-takes from the Ramones concert sequence at The Roxy
* Radio Spots
* Theatrical Trailer
For fans of the film this is an absolute treat, there is a good number of extras that can be enjoyed.
The commentary is a really fun track to listen to, it’s never boring and it’s interesting to hear about the film from the very source. The retrospective is exactly what you’d want it to be, with interviews from those involved you’ll want to put this feature on right away.
Corman is always interesting to listen to, so an interview with the man is pretty great. The other tidbits are entertaining and worth checking out.
Film details HERE
Thanks to Umbrella Entertainment