003797Reviews & Counting
Rock 'n Roll High School
DVD disk
01.04.2006 By: JaneBlo
Rock 'n Roll High School order
Allan Arkush

P. J. Soles
Vincent Van Patten
The Ramones


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The students of Vince Lombardi High School are about to get a nasty surprise this new school year: a strict, rock-music hating principal named Miss Togar who’s out to destroy the kids’ music–loving ways once and for all. But, once things get out of hand with the burning of Ramones records, the students hit back and, with the help of the Ramones, give Miss Togar a run for her money and take over the school in an explosive finale to this cult classic. Gabba Gabba Hey!
I saw this film on TV as a young teen one late night and was instantly hooked on the Ramones. Thanks to the film for making me discover the best punk rockers ever. The main stars of the film are of course the grand daddies of American punk rock themselves, New York City’s The Ramones. I have adored these guys and worshipped their music for decades now, and yes, it still makes me teary-eyed to think of the three band members who’ve died in the last 5 years. Joey being the first to die young on Easter weekend 2001, followed by Dee Dee in 2002 and then Johnny in 2004. Marky Ramone, the drummer, is the only one left. The fact that they act (if one can call it that) in this film, and better still, perform their music, makes me immediately love this film. But even for non-Ramones fans, this film still holds a lot of promise to be entertained and much silliness as well.

When I first saw the principal Miss Togar (Mary Woronov) and then another star of the film, Mr. McGree (Paul Bartel) I immediately remembered them from another crazy comedy I saw in the 1980’s called Eating Raoul. They were great in that and they are equally great in this film, especially Miss Togar who plays the evil high school principal perfectly. The younger stars are the school rock ‘n’ roller and troublemaker Riff Randell (P.J. Soles), the Ramones’ number one fan, her friend the school science wiz Kate Rambeau (Dey Young) and the nerdy star quarterback Tom Roberts (Vincent Van Patten). These three are the ones ultimately responsible for the school’s destruction and for bringing the Ramones to their school. I especially liked Riff, she’s one wild out of control chick! Clint Howard also plays a crucial role here as the school’s love counselor, Eaglebauer and he’s pretty good. The Ramones do very little acting here, and the acting they do is BAD! But so bad it’s good. Their concert performance in the film (about 6 songs are played) is so energetic and cool, I watched it twice! Their music says it all. These groovy cats have always stayed true to themselves and haven’t changed their music, or even their clothes and hair, in their whole careers. I respect that.

The soundtrack of the film is all good: Fleetwood Mac, Chuck Berry, MC5, Devo, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Alice Cooper, The Velvet Underground, Paul McCartney & Wings, and all dominated by the best of the best, the Ramones classics such as Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, I Wanna Be Sedated, Pinhead, Lobotomy, California Sun, I Just Wanna Have Something To Do, and more. The film ends with the classic hit Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, one of their best songs. The film’s best line is when Miss Togar asks the Ramones, “Do your parents KNOW you’re Ramones?” The most entertaining parts were the school’s fiery finale (love watching something as evil as school be destroyed completely, fun stuff!), the Ramones’ live performances, and of course, Miss Togar’s wickedly twisted mouse experiments which prove that rock ‘n’ roll is bad for… mice? The sad part in the film was when the parents and school authority figures burn the Ramones records, a blasphemous crime that was hard to witness, but they pay the price for it. All in all, the film is funny and quite silly, complete with major food fights, huge bubble baths with many people involved, big furry animals and ear mail (you’ll know what I mean when you see it).
Back to School – A Retrospective: A twenty minute long look at the making of the movie with stars and crew alike, including interviews with the director, the actors, and even Marky Ramone (the only Ramone still alive whom I met 3 years ago in Montreal-- CLICK HERE to check out that pic). This was the funnest feature here, and I learned a lot about the ins and outs of making such a film.

Audio Commentaries: There are two, the newest one by executive producer Roger Corman and actress Dey Young was not the best, but the original audio commentary by director Allan Arkush, producer Michael Finnell, and screenwriter Richard Whitley was all right. Again, depending on if one likes listening to these kinds of audio comments or not, this feature might either please you or not.

Audio Outtakes at the Roxy: These are original recordings by The Ramones at L.A.’s famous Roxy club for the shooting of the final scene. Without any visuals except static photos of the band to stare at while the music is on, this feature was somewhat boring.

Original Radio Ads: These radio ads are set to visuals from the film and sound very 1970’s.

Original Theatrical Trailer: A cool addition to the DVD.
It’s about time this film came out. As a legendary school hater, this is the ultimate teenage fantasy movie for me. In this classic teen comedy, the students get their revenge on the school administration and the school itself in a magnificent way, if only it could really happen in real life. Sadly, we have to live it through the movies, but it’s still better than nothing.

The extra features are all right, but I would have liked more Ramones stuff, maybe some videos or extra music. I mean two audio commentaries is really not necessary, they could have added something funny or more exciting to the mix instead of that. If you like rebel movies, teen angst movies, high school movies and/or The Ramones, rent this poppa today and sit back, or better yet, purchase it so you can enjoy it time and time again. A musical cult classic dedicated in loving memory to Joey Ramone (1951-2001). May you and all the other Ramones rest in peace and thank you for the music.
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