by Tim May
Allan Arkush’s 1978 Roger Corman-produced, P.J. Soles-starring, Ramones-featuring teenage rebellion movie Rock ‘n’ Roll High School has long been one of my favorites, and I’ve long been curious about its latter day Corey Feldman-starring sequel, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever.
The sequel picks up many years after the events of the first film, the end of which, you’ll recall, featured the students declaring their school “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” and blowing it up. Now, on the anniversary of the explosion, the students at the now rebuilt and renamed Ronald Reagan High celebrate “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Day,” when they can do whatever they want, without (at least in their eyes) any fear of punishment. Jesse Davis, played by God himself, Corey Feldman, seems to be the leader of these rabble rousers.
Jesse and his friends are in a band called the Eradicators, who, like all the hottest bands of the early ‘90s, mostly play covers of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll standards. Songs like “I’m Walkin’” are simply too dangerous for the “yuppettes” of the school, who plan all the school dances which the Eradicators want to play.
Meanwhile, the school’s principal, as evidenced by the events of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Day, in which the students flooded the bathrooms, is unable to handle the disciplinarian part of his job, so the district brings in someone new- Doctor Vadar, played by Mary Waronov, who you may recall played the new disciplinarian Evelyn Togar in the original film. I’m not sure why they changed her character’s name, other than to provide us with a pretty hacky Star Wars joke. She was one of the funniest things about the first movie; she’s nearly insufferable here. I can’t really say why and I don’t fault Waronov, since it’s a pretty similar performance, but I think a little of her character (whatever name you choose) goes a long way.
After ruining a school dance by playing the Satanic “Tutti Frutti” and starting a food fight, Vadar bans the Eradicators from ever playing on school grounds again. With his bandmates Jones, Mag, Stella, and Asian stereotype Namrock, Jessie goes to the boys’ bathroom to seek help from the legendary Eaglebauer, a character who you may remember being Clint Howard in the first film. That’s right—even Clint Howard thought he was above Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever.
The Eradicators and the new Eaglebauer (who’s now transformed into drunk Michael Keaton) hatch a plan to make sure they get to play the prom, no matter what Vadar or the dreaded Yuppettes may want. Once they get in, they hatch another plan to seduce Vadar and shoot video of her and a student in an intimate situation, so that they can broadcast it to the whole school during their prom performance. The seduction and subsequent sex scene is incredibly unfunny and awkward.
When Vadar is revealed as the apparent pederast she is, she goes insane, twitching like a maniac, hopping in her car and driving it right through the Eradicators’ stage and into the school. Jessie and his boys line much of the school with gasoline, Vadar crashes, and the school blows up, just like it did in the first movie—exactly like it did, actually, stock footage and all.
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever also features many subplots which go nowhere, including a riff on the first movie where Jessie and the gang are trying to win tickets to a concert, but this time, instead of the Ramones, it’s Canadian power pop non-luminaries The Pursuit of Happiness, who also composed the film’s decent, if unremarkable theme song. Jessie also has the hots for the substitute music teacher, played by Sarah Buxton. There’s a strange sequence in which Mojo Nixon, of all people, plays the “Spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and sings a forgettable song to Jessie about continuing the spirit of rock or whatever.
On its own, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever is a decent teen romp, but it pales in comparison pure chaos and farce of Riff Randell’s adventures with the Ramones.
The movie was released on VHS in a slipcase by Live Entertainment, which put out a wide variety of movies and were perhaps most notable for being Family Home Entertainment’s primary distributor. The film was released on DVD in a double feature with a fellow obscure Corey Feldman movie called South Beach Academy.
#144- Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever (Deborah Brock; 1991)