Saturday, January 23, 2010

Invasion of the Mindbenders

(Eugenie Joseph, 1987)
Fans of philosophic insight, depth of vision, or simple technical competence will not find that this outrageously stupid production meets their petty standards of 'quality' filmmaking. But if you're like me, you'll dig it anyway, for its energy, initiative, and high spirits. And if you really concentrate, you might actually find glimmers of philosophic insight after all. No frat-boy cruelty here: the proto-Bill-and-Ted rockers at the film's center make common cause with a wealthy Eddie Deezen impersonator and a female metalhead. Arrayed as they are against an explicitly fascist principal and a behaviour modification expert whose subliminal mind control methods are even more sinister than they first appear, the ecumenicism of the protagonists looks like a carefully calculated statement. When the principal turns off the 'non-violence' switch and the previously free-spirited discipline cases start beating each other up, this utterly goofy movie actually shows shocking glimmers of moral seriousness. Sure the catfight in the hairdressing class and the basketball brawl are utterly overextended and discontinuous - as are the inciting food fight and the climactic hallway chase. Sure the sound dubbing could have been done on a Walkman. Sure the denouement looks like it was transferred from a tenth-generation VHS tape. Who cares - this film identifies so sincerely and enthusiastically with the world view of the immature teenager that technical acuity is beside the point, like a great short story by a superbright grade niner. "Whoever thought that rock and roll would save the world?" - you tell 'em, guys.

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