Movie Review: Rock ‘N’ Roll High School (40th Anniversary Edition Steelbook)

Rock ‘N’ Roll High School was directed by Allan Arkush from a screenplay by Richard Whitley, Russ Dvonch and Joseph McBride that’s based on a story Arkush co-wrote with Joe Dante and stars P.J. Soles, Vince Van Patten, Dey Young, Clint Howard and Dick Miller with a special apperance by punk rockers the Ramones.

1979: Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) is the rockingest rebel at Vince Lombardi High. Evelyn Togar (Mary Woronov) is the strict new principal with plans to rule the school like her own personal dictatorship. And The Ramones are the hottest band around. When these forces of nature collide, Lombardi High will never be the same! Striking back against Togar’s record burnings and iron-fisted discipline, Riff leads a revolt that rocks the roof right off the schoo’’s hallowed halls! With a B-movie pedigree that few films can match, Rock ‘N’ Roll High School is the ultimate teacher of The Three Rs: Rock, Rebellion, and Ramones!

This 1979 musical comedy takes place in 1980 at Vince Lombardi High School. The story centers around Riff Randell (P. J. Soles), a rebellious teenager who’s a big fan of the punk rock group Ramones. She dreams of being able to meet them so she can give them her songs to play but standing in her way is Principal Togar (Mary Woronov) who’s just arrived on campus and she means business. This new Principal replaces her predecessors who were all driven crazy by the students.

Principal Togar ends up taking away Riff’s one chance at meeting the Ramones so she and her bestie Kate Rambeau (Dey Young) end up entering a radio contest and they win. What happens is, Principal Togar and a few others attempt to burn some records in front of the school and this is where the students draw the line plus they’re joined by the Ramones in a battle to save rock and roll. Everything ultimately backfires on Principal Togar because the school ends up burning down. In the end, Riff gets to rock and roll plus she finally meets the Ramones and Kate hooks up with Tom Roberts (Vince Van Patten), the awkward quaterback of the football team.

The front of the Steelbook features the classic artwork you see at the top of the page and the back features some graffiti art. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Rock ‘N’ Roll High School has been given a NEW 4K scan from the original camera negative. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release and were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Rock ‘N’ Roll High School was actually a first time watch for me even though I’ve heard about this teen rebellion cult classic for so many years and the punk rock music that it’s driven by. The story about this teenage girl who rebels against the new high school principal so she can live the life of a rock and roller is about as silly and cheesy as it gets but oddly enough it works for this musical comedy. I thought the entire cast did a great job with their characters but this is P.J. Soles time to shine and she delivers. With names attached to the movie like Roger Corman who serves as the producer and even Dean Cundey who lends his talents as DP, and even good ol’ Dick Miller who shows up for a cameo, these are a just few of the reasons why Rock ‘N’ Roll High School has become such a fan favorite for so many people and I really enjoyed it. The movie fits in perfectly with fan favorites like Grease, Crybaby and even Xanadu. Shout! Factory has also given the 1979 punk rock comedy an impressive new upgrade. Rock ‘N’ Roll High School will be available on a 40th Anniversary Edition Steelbook on November 19th.

Distributor: Shout! Factory

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: PG

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include a brand new featurette that has interviews with some of the cast and crew, four audio commentary tracks, more vintage interviews, audio outtakes, radio ads, TV spot and theatrical trailer.

  • NEW “Class Of ’79: 40 Years Of Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” – Featuring Interviews With Director/Story Writer Allan Arkush, Co-Director/Story Writer Joe Dante, Actress P.J. Soles, Screenwriter Richard Whitley, Screenwriter Russ Dvonch, Cinematographer Dean Cundey, Editor Larry Bock, And More! (1:10:23)
  • Audio Commentary With Director Allan Arkush, Producer Mike Finnell And Screenwriter Richard Whitley
  • Audio Commentary With Executive Producer Roger Corman And Actress Dey Young
  • Audio Commentary With Allan Arkush And Actors P.J. Soles And Clint Howard
  • Audio Commentary With Screenwriter Richard Whitley And Russ Dvonch
  • “Back To School: A Retrospective” With Interviews From Allan Arkush, Executive Producer Roger Corman, And More (23:46)
  • “Staying After Class”: AnInterview With Actors P.J. Soles, Vincent Van Patten And Dey Young (16:02)
  • Interview With Roger Corman Conducted By Leonard Maltin (04:36)
  • Interview With Allan Arkush Including A Look At Rare, Behind-The-Scenes Stills (11:35)
  • Audio Outtakes From The Roxy (15:24)
  • Original Radio Ads (01:05)
  • TV Spot (00:34)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:11)
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