When I was a senior in high school, I was in a band with my friend Kevin. We both played guitar, I sang, and we didn’t have a drummer. And to be honest, our “practices” consisted of about 30 minutes of jamming in his basement, followed by several hours of listening to The Cure and watching movies. Looking back, that was one of the brightest spots is an otherwise dark and depressing senior year. Perhaps that’s why I look back on this movie with such fondness, ’cause Lord knows it’s not because it’s a good movie.
Jessie Davis (Feldman) and his band, The Eradicators, are raising all sorts of hell at Ronald Reagan High School. When they’re not torching sections of the school, or causing the plumbing to overflow, they’re rocking out at school parties. This doesn’t sit well with the spineless principal, Mr. McGree (played by none other than Larry “Frank Burns” Linville), the school officials, or the school’s yuppies. After their latest prank, which devolves into a foodfight at the Honor’s Society Dance, Doctor Vadar (Woronov) is called in to handle Reagan High’s discipline problems.
Vadar, who resembles a cross between Dr. Strangelove and a dominatrix, has big plans for Reagan High. She institutes tougher rules, brings in bumbling guards to enforce the law, and even goes so far as to build an electric fence around the school. But when she orders the Eradicators to stop rocking, she crosses the line. When the band is convicted of the one school prank they didn’t do, it’s time to strike back. And what better way than to rock out at the prom? Posing as Wombat Vengeance, and with the blessing of the “Spirit of Rock N’ Roll” (Mojo Nixon), they storm the stage. But not before getting revenge on Vadar and the school snobs with the aid of some convicting video footage.
Personally, I don’t remember high school being quite like this. What was it with Hollywood high schools? My high school was never this cool. We didn’t have The Eradicators. We didn’t have hot teachers. We didn’t have Frank Burns as a principle. And we didn’t have The Ramones… oops, wrong movie. Of course, even if we did, whose to say that I would’ve enjoyed it more than I did? I still would’ve got picked on in gym class, laughed at in the cafeteria, and pushed around after class. And Lord knows I wouldn’t have met a hot teenage witch, unlike the Eradicator’s lucky drummer.
But enough of my repressed high school memories. Besides, they’ll all pay someday. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever isn’t a great movie; it’s not even a good movie. That’s the problem with a movie that has a lot of personal nostalgia attached to it; watching it just now, I realized how much of it is pretty cringeworthy. But the movie never takes itself seriously anyways, so why should you? I watched it with some friends, and it was apparent they didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. Of course, they watched Joe Dirt next, so what do they know?
Even though this movie came out in 1991, there’s no mistaking that this movie is a child of the ’80s. All of the archetypes are there, including the fashions (which look like they came out of the dressing rooms of Cyndi Lauper and “Reflex”-era Duran Duran), the music, and the attitudes. The school is named after Ronald Reagan, for crying out loud! Yes, it’s your age-old story. The outcasts and their godforsaken rock are the ones who want to live, love, and have fun, whereas the “popular” kids and authority figures are materialistic and morally bankrupt. Throw in some projectile vomiting, a food fight, and Frank Burns, and you’ve got a classic in my book.