Wednesday, May 19, 2010


"Things sure have changed since we got kicked out of high school." - Joey Ramone

Previously released on DVD by both New Horizons and Disney, the legendary teen comedy, ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979) has just been re-released on DVD and - for the first time - high-def Blu-Ray disc, by Shout! Factory as the first of their new "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" line.

Exuberant, rebellious senior Riff Randall (P.J. Soles, HALLOWEEN, STRIPES) is the world's biggest fan of The Ramones, and has written a song that she thinks is perfect for their particular brand of rock 'n roll music. When she decides to play hooky for a few days in order to wait in line to purchase tickets to an upcoming appearance by her favorite band, she comes into conflict with Vice Lombardi High School's new principal - the rock music-hating Miss Togar (Mary Woronov, DEATH RACE 2000), who has turned the school into a police state. Of course, this means Riff has no choice but to stage a rock 'n roll rebellion, and recruits The Ramones themselves to join her revolution.

Directed by Allan Arkush, ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL is fast-paced, funny as hell, and filled with fantastic music by the likes of Alice Cooper, Paul McCartney & Wings, Chuck Berry, Fleetwood Mac, The Velvet Underground, Tod Rundgren, Devo, and, of course, The Ramones. A game cast - including Paul Bartel (EATING RAOUL), Vince Van Patten, Clint Howard, Dey Young, and Dick Miller - embrace the film's anarchistic spirit and play their roles just broadly enough to serve the flick's absurd tone.

Shout! Factory presents this drive-in classic for the first time in correctly-matted, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a new transfer. The 1080p Blu-Ray presentation is startlingly sharp and clear, with perfectly-balanced colors and no evident print damage or digital artifacts. The audio is Dolby True-HD mono.

As for supplemental features - well, the disc is loaded. Shout! has included every bonus feature from both previous DVD releases, and several new extras exclusive to this edition. Among these features are four audio commentary tracks with cast and crew, a new retrospective featurette, new interviews with the film's principles, the old Roger Corman/Leonard Maltin mini-interview, a new interview with director Arkush, original trailers and TV spots, a 20-page booklet incorporating all the material from the similar booklet in the old New Horizons DVD, and, well, more.

I also love that Shout! is using the original poster art on these "Roger Corman Cult Classics" releases - when Disney had the rights to many of these titles, they slapped the ugliest Photoshop crap on the packages. This is a huge aesthetic improvement and shows respect for the fans/collectors.

If you've never seen ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, this is the perfect time. I doubt that the film looked this good in the theaters back in '79. If you bought either (or, in my case, both) of the previous DVD editions, toss 'em. This is the definitive home video release, and includes every feature from those discs plus a beautiful, widescreen transfer.

Highly recommended. Gabba gabba hey!

BUY: Rock 'N' Roll High School (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray]