Rock 'n' Roll High School [1979]

"Do your parents know you're Ramones?" With those withering words, Miss Togar (Mary Woronov), the uptight neofascist principal of Vince Lombardi High School, addresses the four mop-haired, leather-jacketed members of America's first and most famous punk band. And you know it won't be long before the Ramones's jackhammer riffs are blaring through the public address system at maximum volume, the kids are running--not walking--wild in the hallways (without passes!), and Miss Togar's gulag is re-christened "Rock 'n' Roll High School." Then, in keeping with the outrageously nihilistic animus of punk, the high school students and the Ramones just blow the place to smithereens. It's a crowd- pleasing, fantasy-fulfillment climax that combines the apocalyptic finale of Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point with the explosive conclusion of Alice Cooper's "School's Out." Rock 'n' Roll High School is a blast, a goofy and liberating salute to the rebel spirit behind the teen rock & roll movies of the 1950s, which always pitted the kids' insatiable appetite for fun against the adults' fear-based authoritarianism. The film is emblematic of the disarmingly silly, tongue-in-cheek humor of the youth-oriented B-pictures cranked out in the '50s and '60s by renowned low-budget exploitation mogul Roger Corman (who gave many a hungry young filmmaker, including the creators of this film, their start in the biz), and of the noisy, anarchic energy of '70s punk rock, as personified by the inimitable Ramones. In the words of the maestros' beach-blanket-buzz-saw title anthem, this movie is "Fun, fun, oh baby, fun, fun..." --Jim Emerson

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