The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Class of 1999 II: The Substitute (1994)

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I caught this movie at 3am on a Monday morning a couple years ago after finishing a 25-page paper for a grad class on China challenging the global economy. I needed a relief, and this movie was okay for it.

Now people often ask why Sasha Mitchell isn't in the DTVC Hall of Fame. It's a close call, I agree, but he needs more of a body of work. His decision to do guest spots on ER (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0593711/) instead of making another DTV film has hurt him on a lot of ballots. We know how much work it takes to do those movies, so it's not like he can't do both.

What makes Mitchell great, of course, is his role as Cody on the TGIF hit Step By Step. In my China class, I mentioned watching this film after doing my paper, and the first remark a classmate made was "Cody from Step by Step?" It's amazing how one finds a fellow DTVer almost anywhere, but I digress.

Class of 1999 II: The Substitute takes place somewhere in the near future after the first movie. Don't worry if you didn't see the first one, because there's plenty flashbackage to get you up to speed. Mitchell is the last of the cyber teachers from the first movie, and he's signed on as a sub at a school. He starts immediately killing the bad students. The movie also has Rick Hill, who in my mind is a top notch That Guy, playing a detective tracking Mitchell.

I guess the one thing I dug about this movie was that it took place in the future, which was the past by the time I watched it. I love the idea that in 1994 kids were so bad that a script writer felt in five years drastic measures would be needed. Not only that, but I loved even more that in five years there'd be some kind of technology that would allow someone to make robot teachers like this. This is what I watch DTV for, and this movie delivered.

I have some big qualms, though. First, there's a plot twist, that I won't give away, but one that requires an enormous leap of faith, even for a bad action movie. Second, I just can't get behind Sasha Mitchell as an unfeeling robot killer. He could be a bad guy in the right film, just not this one. In thinking of Boa vs. Python, I'm left wondering why Mitchell didn't hop on that project. Maybe he just doesn't have a great agent. If it's the guy that suggested Class of 1999 II, Mitchell should find a new one.

Overall, I'd avoid this in most cases. At 3am, if you're wide awake after writing a 25-page paper, and nothing else is on, go for it. If you see it at the video store, pass. If you want to see some Cody from Step by Step, look to Kickboxers II, III, and IV, which are more fun and deliver more dollar value.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109442/

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