Rock 'n' Roll High School (Allan Arkush / U.S., 1979):

The still center of Allan Arkush's barnstorming lampoon is The Ramones, which is the joke -- the band's leather-vulture, ungiving geekiness is given the Fab-Four treatment among the film's young, wannabe rebels ("I'm a teenage lobotomy," the heroine declares with a sunshiny grin). The setting is Vince Lombardi High (motto: "Winning is better than losing"), with spaces opened to reveal the gags within: A freshman stuffed in clumsy jock Vincent Van Patten's locker, the boys' room where Clint Howard has set up shop (phony ids, test answers and dates are his specialties). Having endured phys-ed horrors in Carrie, the delectable P.J. Soles here gets her own gym to run -- she turns off the muzak and performs the title song, which she composed for her hero, Joey Ramone. Her feverish gyrations are the kind of "shameless adolescent abandon" the new principal (Mary Woronov) plans to obviate, but the coed's passion for rock 'n' roll won't be denied so the plot races through the rockatorium and back on campus for a punkette's version of If... The Eighties are just around the corner so Arkush keeps the vivacity high on the "rock-o-meter," Woronov's magisterial portrait of Eve Arden as a dominatrix provides plenty to fill Dean Cundey's wide shots. The Ramones take the stage for "Blitzkrieg Bop" and also validate Godard's dictum in Sympathy for the Devil ("a revolution of destructive force calls for a revolution of creative force"), while in the raucous audience a ticket scalper's peace pipe is calmly passed around and puffed on by Paul Bartel in a yellow beret and a gorilla-sized white mouse with headphones. A movie greatly mined by future comedies, most of which lack the ability, so keenly developed in Corman alumni, to find art in nonsensical cheese. With Dey Young, Dick Miller, Don Steele, Alex Elias, and Grady Sutton.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home