Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Faculty (1998)

by JM

I know that this movie doesn't really fit the "slashers and sleaze" mold that we have adhered to at Tower Farm. I know that The Faculty is not really even a horror movie. It is a science fiction movie with a monster in it. But, you know what? I love this movie and I am not going to apologize for posting this review.

Not going to do it.

Okay. I'm sorry. But, I think this movie is one of the best of the 1990s and, frankly, I just don't feel like watching 1963's Blood Feast, which is next up on my stack to review. I'll have to get to that one at some point. But, it is just a brutal sit through-- nowhere near as enjoyable as it's follow up, 2000 Maniacs!.

Anyway, I have gotten a little off subject.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, The Faculty is a cavalcade of stars. Or, at least, of late 90's teen talent. You get Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Josh Hartnett, Clea DuVall... even Usher all playing 90210ish high schoolers.

On top of this, you get Robert Patrick, Salma Heyek, Famke Jannsen, Bebe Neuwirth, Jon Stewart, and Piper Laurie all playing the adult members of the school's faculty.Oh, and there is also this guy. He has basically made a career out of playing cheating husbands and jerky bosses. So, it is strange to see him just playing a dad. And, yes, he is confiscating an issue of Boob magazine from his son's bedroom.If you are not sold at this point, I really don't know what to do with you.

The Faculty opens in the same way most movies of this era opened... with a flashy alternative rock track. This one happens to be by The Offspring. It quickly moves aside for a remake of a Pink Floyd song sung by Layne Staley (of Alice In Chains). You see, even if the movie had not been a success, the soundtrack could have still been a hit. So, as with Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, this movie is packed with current music to entice its young viewers to go directly to Sam Goodie and spend what was left of the money their parents lent them. I think the shot below, taken with captions on, pretty much sums things up.
You also get one other thing that all of these movies had: Screenplay by Kevin Williamson. So, you can count on teen dialogue that is full of cultural references and sarcasm. You know, the way teenagers really talk... right? Well, I believe this was Mr. Williamson's last good movie. Can we agree that Teaching Mrs. Tingle total waste of time and that Cursed was just totally lame. Sure, the werewolf giving someone the finger was a great moment. But, having to deal with Joshua Jackson's mugging through the rest of the movie just isn't worth it.

The movie's premise is pretty simple. Aliens have taken over the school. They take on the appearance of the teachers and administrators. These aliens are slowly working their way into the student population as well. So, as with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it is never entirely clear who is a "pod person" and who is not. There's also a little And Then There Were None thrown in.

Josh Hartnett's hair is a real scene stealer in this, one of his early vehicles. It sort of looks like a toupee that has been placed on backwards. Competing with his hair for screen time is a massive mole on his neck that seems to stare right at the viewer in every shot.
You know what, though? The best thing about Josh Hartnett's character, Zeke, is the stunt double that he uses. I mean, does this guy even look remotely like Josh Hartnett??
My personal favorite character, though, is Delilah. Jordana Brewster really does her best to combine the characters of Kelly Taylor and Andrea Zuckerman from 90210. I mean, she is the prettiest girl on campus and holds the incredibly important position of editor of the school paper. Yes, this is really a big deal. I mean, I am sure she is breaking stories all the time that get national attention.
Anyway, this movie has it all. It is full of impressive special effects. The characters/actors are fun to watch. Piper Laurie plays the exact same character she has played in every movie since releasing Carrie. We even get a good ten minutes or so of frontal nudity near the end of the flick.

How can I give anything less than five fingers to a movie that treats Jon Stewart like this? As someone who has never gotten over the removal of Craig Kilborne from The Daily Show, this seems like justice.
Five fingers


  1. JM-
    Great Review...
    Josh Hartnett's hair is insane in this movie! It's like an amazing visual effect that swirls around the screen and steals attention at all times. How is it that the "Hartnett" has not entered the Hair Hall of Fame like the "Farrah" or the "Rachael"?

  2. I LOVE THIS MOVIE TOO!!!!!!! I saw it when I was around 13--the perfect age for Hartnett hair and 90's rock music.

  3. The reason that Hartnett Hair is not as widely known as The Farrah or the Rachael is that it is also known as the Lori Petty. So, that causes a lot of confusion.


  4. This film is awesome. One of the better 90s horror/sci-fi flicks. THE FACULTY does not get enough credit. Great cast, great acting, great SFX, great soundtrack - why don't people appreciate this one more? It's a fun, entertaining flick! And yeah, Hartnett's hair - wow. It stole the show here and in HALLOWEEN H20. Great review!

  5. I love Jordana Brewster in this film. She so bitch in it, although she's not in real life.