Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 252: The Faculty (1998) - Rank 4/5


Here's my plan if I should ever get a time machine - I would travel back in time and pick up some Crystal Pepsi and Barbeque Ripplins and catch "Dick Tracy" in theatres. That's it. I've seen too many sci-fi films that to be so foolish as to pull a "Sound of Thunder" move and do something so consequential as talk to my former self. However, if I did, I would smack my seventeen year-old self upside the head in 1998 and say "Go watch 'The Faculty,' damn it!" When the film came out, I shunned anything put out by Dimension because I was too busy absorbing myself in Kubrick and Vincent Price horror flicks. I was too snobbish to indulge in modern horror aimed only at my demographic.

It's a pity, though, for not only is this a damn, fun film, but it was released during my senior year, which was perfect timing. Of course, the big reason that "The Faculty" rises above the rest of its kind from the era ("Scream," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," etc.) is that it was helmed by Robert Rodriguez, who knows what it takes to entertain, whether he's directing a bloodbath or a children's film. The storyline is a touch "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," a touch "Night of the Creeps," and there are even elements of Bruce Coville's literary niche present. Nothing complex, mind you - the film is as surface-level as it seems. The school's teacher base is turning into aliens and it's up to a rag-tag group of students to stop them.

The student leads aren't terrible, but they don't stand out either, which is why the majority of them (apart from Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett) have disappeared from the face of the Earth. The adult cast is another situation entirely, made up of a veritable character actor orgy. Daniel Von Bargen, Jon Stewart, Famke Janssen, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth, Susan Willis, Robert Patrick and a Harry Knowles cameo really do make the film. The rest of the film could have been an exercise in mediocrity and that cast would make it fun. Thankfully, the movie works on a lot of other levels (though, like most films of this ilk, it does have its fair share of gross implausibilities).
Watch the Trailer

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