Ah yes, it’s finally here! That wonderful time of year when the kids will be stuck in an institution of learning. Gone are the days of wondering if that police siren you here is the result of your child discovering the joys of lighter fluid and shopping center dumpsters. All in all, I’m sure your kid isn’t half as bad as the ones in the movies I’m about to talk about, of course. The movies on today’s list are all classics in their own right, based off of popular books transitioned to that wonderful medium of moving picture technology. But don’t get me wrong… the protagonists of these films aren’t exactly on the up and up, nor are they completely on the unhinged spectrum. These kids probably were probably never destined to be productive members of society, but they at least capture our collective attention, and possibly our hearts… well, at least one of them might! So with that, I present to you the only shopping list that matters, the Back to School Attack Pack! Enjoy!
3. Clockwork Orange (1972)
We start our Back to School Attack Pack list with possibly one of the most famous films around! Clockwork Orange follows the adventures of Alex (Malcolm McDowell) as he leads his gang of Droogs (a Russian word which translates to friend or buddy) as they seek momentary satisfaction in the pursuit of Ultraviolence! In between these seemingly random bouts of chaos, the boys are seen either enjoying drugged milk at their favorite bar or, in Alex’s case, relaxing to some Beethoven (lovingly referred to as Ludwig Van). Early on, after savagely beating his subordinates for disobeying him, Alex is betrayed and left for the police after he accidentally murders one of his victims. While in prison, he becomes aware of a program that may grant him an early parole, unaware of the disastrous side effects associated with it.
The film was adapted from an Anthony Burgess novel and directed by the great Stanley Kubrick, who would later go on to adapt Stephen King’s The Shining, who kept the story fairly close to the original novel… minus the ending which would have seen Alex redeem himself. The film is narrated by Alex utilizing a combination of Cockney and Slavic slang.
Overall, the film saw a lot of success, garnering $26 million with a budget of $2.2 million and currently holds a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With all of that said, Clockwork Orange is not without controversy. The film initially received an X rating for its original 1972 release. To circumvent this, Stanley Kubrick voluntarily edited out 30 seconds from two of the more sexually violent scenes, but most of the current DVDs are the original, unedited versions with a shiny new R rating! Before I close this out, in the off chance a remake is in order I would recommend Evan Peters to play Alex. He could easily pass for a young Malcolm McDowell! All in all, if you don’t mind a little bit of graphic violence, definitely give Clockwork Orange one a go!
2. The Warriors (1979)
If the phrase, “Warriors, come out and play!” doesn’t bring back some form of nostalgia, then I highly recommend sitting down and watching our next entry in the Back to School Attack Pack. Being released in the far off year of 1979, The Warriors caught the attention of moviegoers almost immediately as it followed the story of a plucky young street gang as they tried to survive a nasty night in New York.
The film follows the exploits of the titular gang as they, along with almost every other gang in New York, are traveling to a gathering. At the center of the gathering we have Cyrus (Roger Hill), the charismatic leader of the Gramercy Riffs, who intent on initiating a plan to conquer New York by uniting every gang in a single partnership. Sadly, in the middle of his speech, Cyrus is shot by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the psychotic leader of Rogues, who then frames The Warriors, setting up the story.
One of the things The Warriors is known for is the colorful nature of the street gangs, with them not only wearing similar colors but uniforms! It’s not uncommon to see a group of maniacs running around in full face paint wielding baseball bats, which is just insane in and of itself. Also of note, this film was probably one of the first to feature a street gang as the main protagonists, whereas in previous films, gangs were usually displayed as being violent criminals. This one went out of its way to portray them as a close knit group, akin to a family, with a somewhat decent set of morals. Also like families, they bicker amongst each other and mess around, as shown in the opening.
The success of this film didn’t come without its own controversy. A week after opening, reports of violence and vandalism began to appear, some involving actual patrons viewing the film. This initially prompted Paramount to remove ads and other displays promoting the film, as an estimated 200 theaters began adding security personnel. In fact, Paramount even offered to relieve participating theaters of all obligations to show the movie, as well as pay the costs for the extra security, something mostly unheard of nowadays. Walter Hill, the director of the film, had said something interesting about the reaction:
“I think the reason why there were some violent incidents is really simple: The movie was very popular with street gangs, mostly young men, a lot of whom had very strong feelings about each other, and suddenly they all went to the movies together! They looked across the aisle and there were the guys they didn’t like, so there were a lot of incidents. And also, the movie itself was rambunctious… I would certainly say that.”
Despite all of that, The Warriors went on to gross $22.5 million, with a guesstimated budget of between $4 and $7 million. With that said, the critics hated it, several giving low scores. But hey, what do they know? There are a ton of movies out there hated by critics every day, yet are incredibly beloved by so many. The importance here is that The Warriors has since become a classic film, showing up on many Top Movie lists, and has also inspired what can be best described as a cult following taken to near sci-fi con levels in the form of several themed gangs that like to hang out at Coney Island to this day! Don’t believe me? Check this out!
1. Battle Royale (2000)
In the off chance that you thought the “kids” in the last two Back to School Attack Pack movies were violent, I have a whole class here that has tested up to the next grade! Battle Royale is a genre favorite about the consequences of violent unrest in a nation’s youth. At the start, we are introduced to the BR Act, a document explaining that every year, a single class of 14 year-olds is selected to fight to the death on an abandoned island to help quell the civil unrest. Not long after the opening sequence involving a little girl and her Dolly of Doom, we are introduced to our protagonist, Shuya (Tatsuya Fujiwara).
Shuya is a shy 14 year-old who, depending on what version of the movie you’re watching, is an adept basketball player but is also suffering from depression due to his father committing suicide some time before. A year after their instructor had been injured in an attack by a student, Shuya’s class is on a bus heading towards what they assumed was a field trip, only to be gassed and taken to an abandoned island. Here, we are given a rundown of the expected events, courtesy of the former teacher and a bubbly young lady on VHS tape (remember those?) who gives a brief history of the BR Act, as well as why they are all wearing matching explosive collars. We are also shown that students not enrolled in that specific class can volunteer for Battle Royale to more or less speed up the carnage, in case the students decide to unite. Just before being sent out to the island, each student is given a duffle bag with survival gear and a random weapon, some of which are useless like Shuya’s initial weapon of a frying pan lid.
The director of Battle Royale, Kinji Fukasaku, used his previous experiences as a worker in a munitions factory while he was a teen during WWII to lead him in his direction. After a mortar attack on the factory, Kinji and his surviving classmates were forced to clear out the bodies those that weren’t so lucky. After that, the director saw through what he perceived as the lies being told to him by the government, and he began to have a deep dislike for most adults. Powerful stuff, right?
Quentin Tarantino is a noted fan of this film and was amazed by the acting prowess of one of the young actresses, Chiaki Kuriyama. He was so impressed that he wrote the part of Gogo Yubari, the bodyguard of O’Ren Ishii in Kill Bill, just for her.
You can kind of see why he chose her. Her eyes tell a story!
People have accused the writers of this film of stealing the idea from the Hunger Games. In fact, there’s a lot of people out there who actually think that the idea of dumping a group of people on a deserted island and forcing them to kill each other for one reason or another is the most original idea in existence. However, Battle Royale not only precedes the Hunger Games book, but the original Battle Royale novel and accompanying manga came out in 1999 and 2000 respectively. In the off chance you hate yourself and your friends, I have a Battle Royale drinking game for you:
- For every regular kill take a shot.
- For every hot girl that kills someone or every hot girl that gets killed take two shots.
- Finally, for every hot girl that kills a hot girl take three shots!
In the likelihood you get alcohol poisoning, you should note that Pophorror does not condone or promote substance abuse of any kind.
Anyone surprised that I have another film on this list? Not only is Class of Nuke ‘Em High a great example of VHS trash, but this is the only film on this list not to be based off of a book. Filmed and released in 1986 – and also coming with the average Troma low score on Rotten Tomatoes – Class of Nuke ‘Em High was far from a success story upon release but, like The Warriors, the film has a cult following thanks to oddball characters and a wacky story involving atomic weed, toilet monsters, and the ugliest student body you’ll ever see!
This movie follows the aftermath of a nuclear accident at a power plant that contaminates the water supply of Tromaville High. The effects include mutating the Honor Society into a gang of Road Warrior-like rejects who sell radioactive pot plants to the student body. Two of the students, Chrissy (Janelle Brady) and Warren (Gil Brenton), feel the initial effects of a euphoric sensation, but each find the promoted atomic weed to have dire side effects. Chrissy ends up giving birth to a mutated fetus that she flushes, which grows in the sewer. Meanwhile, while in a fight with a few members of the Honor Society, Warren temporarily transforms into a mutant and kills some of the gang members!
Outside of the Rotten Tomatoes score of 20% and an estimated budget $2 million, there’s very little info actually available about this movie. Then again, this is a Troma film, so it’s not hard to imagine how little coverage this received. While this film falls into the Not For Everyone territory, if interested, I highly recommend checking it out!
If you liked this list let me know and share away, my horror-loving friends!