5 Courses Not Offered At ‘Rock ’n’ Roll High School’

By  · Published on May 4th, 2012

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we’re formin’ in a straight line…at the buffet. You’ve foolishly wandered into the Internet’s best second best currently existing bad movie column. Every week we examine a particularly rank schlock dog, rather frankly, exposing every spoil mark and moldy flaw. Then, eschewing our sense of reason, and regard for our own intestinal well-being, we happily consume the rotten red hot with a gleeful smile on our lips. We then pair the film with a similar, but less metaphorical, snack food item themed to the events on screen. Or at least, that used to be the format to which we dogmatically adhered. Now, the warm, bosomy embrace of routine has been replaced by the shrieking, bloodletting scratch-fight of anarchy.

In honor of our on-going, shoulda-called-the-doctor-at-the-four-hour-mark nerd boner for Roger Corman, we decided to celebrate this godking of b-cinema by featuring one of his most treasured, albeit dingy gems. Therefore, we head back to school and audit a few classes at Rock ’n’ Roll High School. What we found was quite shocking. The following is a report detailing a few courses R’n’RHS does not offer, but probably should based on what we beheld.

Proportional Retaliation 101

Our visit to Rock ’n’ Roll High School evidently came at a time of great discontent. A veritable uprising of uppitiness was brewing between the faculty and the students. Leading the rebellion of the students was the unfortunately named Riff Randell, played by bobsy little P.J. Soles. The very presence of Pajama Soles is disturbing, seeing as how she was strangled to death by a serial killer in Haddonfield, Illinois just a year before . As I recognize no division between actor and character, perky zombie Soles leads the charge against the new principal, a carnivorous she-beast in a smart skirtsuit played by Mary Woronov. The dispute stemmed from Principal SharkFace’s edict that all rock ’n’ roll, especially that of The Ramones, was obscene and must be destroyed.

While I do agree that this school administrator overstepped her bounds by somehow thinking she could regulate what her students did outside of school,there is something to be said for the fact that the very sound of The Ramones music does cause the students to rebel…against the alignment of their own spinal chords. What? That’s dancing?!

Whether you think Principal AngleJaw is right or wrong in her distaste for rock music, it’s clear Riff is miffed by her decree. Unfortunately for the structural integrity of the school building, Randell’s rock/political paradigm is clearly less Ricky Nelson Mandella and more Joan Jett of Arc. Rage-drunk and Ramones-fueled, she opts for more Blitzkrieg than Bop as she leads a student revolt that would have a certain famous gladiator retracting, “yeah no, she’s Spartacus.”

Oddly prescient that her best friend’s name is Rambeau, as they do give us a war we don’t believe…is justified. By the end, the school’s permanent records are chainsawed into confetti and portions of the building explode into a fireball of disproportionate destruction. So yeah, if you try to make them form into anything resembling straight line, these kids will lose their damn minds.

The Geneva Convention and You

Once Supreme General Riff Randell takes control of Rock ’n’ Roll High School, her followers commence with the hilarious bondage and chuckle-inducing torture of their captives. About the time the lunch ladies are tied up and pelted with rotten food firing-squad style, you begin to get the sense that things are getting out of hand at Rock ’n’ Roll High. But when we reach the, “wouldn’t it be funny to boil and cook the freshman,” it becomes clear that we’ve suddenly entered Rock ’n’ Roll Hanoi Hilton. They even chase the dastardly hall monitors through the school, threatening to run them down with a motorbike. I’m surprised these mini-Mengele’s didn’t start preforming actual teenage lobotomies on their prisoners.

Interpersonal Communication

Let’s face it, high school is basically hell on Earth. It’s an awkward, terrifying ego agoge (egoge?) from which only the strongest emerge unscathed. The students of Rock ’n’ Roll High School are particularly bereft of the ability make the trip from the desolate crags of Independent Thought Mountain to the turbulent rapids of Stupid Mouth Falls. These teens converse with one other as if they aren’t so much a high school as a confederation of assorted alien races forged into a community by a ceaseless careening of random planets…all of which were full of dunces. They lip-flub jokes about geometry and the weather; humor which belies both their supposed youthfulness and the definition of the word humor.

Not convinced? Take their mating rituals for example, and then take a shower. We all know adolescent courtship is as smooth and comfortable a process as removing your nose hair with a belt sander. But honestly, using Clint Howard as your dating guru is tantamount to hiring Andy Dick to give a lecture on nuance. The day I take love advice from Opie’s sack-headed little brother in a bathroom stall is the day I…well, to be fair, he did make some good points. Our antagonistic protagonist is no better, her idea of sexual gratification is listening to Ramones records as all the members of the band invade her daydream and she slowly loses articles of clothing in a seductive dance of all-out ick. I hate to be the one to tell her that what she imagines as a symphony of girlish adoration is essentially the overture of a gang bang.

AP Nutrition

Joey Ramone, a former student of Rock ’n’ Roll High School, and current frontrunner in the Transsexual Karen Carpenter Look-Alike Contest, apparently fell asleep in health class when they discussed the food pyramid. My guess is that, on that informative day, he actually took the pills Jefferson Airplane was crooning about and came out of his head-softening haze believing he in fact was the White Rabbit. I have no other explanation for why he is force-fed a diet of wheat germ, riboflavin, and organic alfalfa.

While his screwball band mates try, and fail, to master the complex art of putting pizza slices in their faces, Joey is basically freebasing the ingredients of the world’s most repulsive breakfast cereal.

Defense Against The Dark Arts

Ok, so I know the integration of completely made up nonsense into real-world academia is not widely embraced; or at least that’s what the restraining order I received from the Department of Education espoused. But if you think about it, Rock ’n’ Roll High School is more or less (far less) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Miss Togar, like Dolores Umbridge, comes brazenly into Rock ’n’ Roll Hogwarts, declares the school a failure, and begins imposing oppressive new rules which incite a student revolt.

Hell, she even performs a stereophonic rendition of the cruciatus curse against a poor mouse. Given Umbridge’s voluntary collusion with Voldemort, and the fact that this analogy has clearly gotten away from me, I suppose it’s no surprise that Defense Against the Dark Arts is not offered at this institution. The worst part is how sorely needed the course is. Near the end of the film, a coven of lanky, unwashed scarecrow monsters burst in and are roaming the halls bewitching the student population with their siren songs. Oh wait a minute, no, I’m sorry. That’s just The Ramones again.

Junkfood Pairing: Rocky Road and Sweet Rolls

You may be thinking that I only chose this unsavory duo of treats so that I could ham-fistedly make a “rock” and “roll” pun. Well that’s…correct. Hey, you write this damn column after three Four Loko smoothies and see how clever you are.

However, there is also the added metaphorical bonus inherent in dumping a pint of rocky road ice cream on a freshly-baked pan of sweet rolls. The resulting, highly-avoidable chaos will harken back to the perplexing climax of Rock ’n’ Roll High School.

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.