This month is all in the spirit of back-to-school, but not your typical high school movies. Instead the musically driven, quirky films that, like me, you might wish was the quote-unquote norm.
For the first in this series, we looked at Grease 2. That is right, Grease 2, a film that provides not only delightful and infectious songs, but one where the female characters are strong and do not change to win their guys.
Today, we shift from Rydell to Vince Lombardi High and another strong female lead, Riff Randell, rock 'n' roller. "Hey, Ho! Let's Go!" back to 1979 and Rock 'n' Roll High School.
Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979)
That Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) loves the Ramones is an understatement. She lives, breathes, and even writes songs with The Ramones in mind. Then there is Vince Lombardi High School's new principal, Principal Togar (Mary Woronov) who is anti-rock music. She even produces evidence on how rock music has had a negative effect on mice. Togar attempts to regulate the school, but Riff would rather take a few days off to wait in line for Ramones tickets. She actually has plans to buy for her whole class, not just herself (what kind of self-involved high schooler is she, anyway?).
In the mix, you also have Tom (Vincent Van Patten) who hires Eaglebauer (Clint Howard) to help him with his love life. Eaglebauer recommends Kate Rambeau (Dey Young), Riff's best friend. Of course, Tom has his sights on Riff. This is typical high school. Kate likes Tom, Tom likes Riff, Riff likes Joey Ramone. However, do not lump Riff into the groupie categories. She wants to write songs for the Ramones, first and foremost. Love need not always be romantic for it to be epic.
Riff's charismatic ways fuel the film. She uses these powers for the good of rock and friendship. By generously giving a ticket to her music teacher, Mr. McGree (Paul Bartel), she turns him in a Ramones fan. She does not let Togar get her down. She is tenacious and achieves her dream to see The Ramones live in concert. But there's much more, such as The Ramones taking over her high school for a day. Goodbye Vince Lombardi High, "Gabba Gabba Hey!" Rock 'n' Rock High School! G
Like director Allan Arkush's Get Crazy, Rock N Roll High School is peppered with over the top antics (child punk mice, for example) and a great mix of comedy and music. Plus with Roger Corman as a producer, Joe Dante's assistance on the film, and Dick Miller in a bit part as Police Chief are just a few other reasons not to miss out on this film.
This film is one that really has to be experienced first hand. I for one, would have loved The Ramones to take over my school and to be like Kate and best friends with Riff. I imagine you will feel the same. Check out the trailer below and definitely track down this film. Lastly, don't forget that next week the third in this series will be revealed.