Lists · Movies

School’s Out Forever: 10 Fictional Institutions We’d Rather Not Attend

Going back to school could always be worse!
The Faculty Raining
By  · Published on August 14th, 2018

Class of 1999 (1990)

Class Of

School: Kennedy High

If Class of 1984 is the angry blue-collar cry for Reagan era cultural identity, then Class of 1999 is the nightmare of a society living with the ramifications of that choice.

But 1999 is also a low rent action/horror that was always destined to be discovered on the shelves of Blockbuster, leeching off the success of The Terminator. Which, in a pre-Terminator 2 age isn’t surprising because hello! Why wouldn’t you try and capitalize off of James Cameron’s monolithic success before they established the record-smashing sequel?

Except rather than getting one Arnold Schwarzenegger, we get the indomitable Pam Grier, John P. Ryan (It’s Alive), and Patrick Kilpatrick (The Toxic Avenger) devouring the scenery with fiendish glee. You can’t help but smile at Ryan’s steely blue gaze and toothy grin as his human hand falls off to reveal a twisted iron claw underneath or when he’s aggressively spanking student gangs in his class, which trust me is as far from erotic as it sounds. It’s these lightning in a bottle moments that make you nostalgic for the indelible golden years of cinema transitioning out of one decade and into the next.

Matilda (1996)


School: Crunchem Hall

Unlike most kids on this list, Matilda actually wants to go to school. And who could blame her with parents like the garish Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman who couldn’t care less about their new bundle of joy, played remarkably by Mara Wilson. Wilson captures the perfect blend of sad ennui with the exuberance of childhood, more than enough needed to carry this surprisingly complex tale of perseverance and revenge.

But if you thought your school had government funding issues, you clearly haven’t seen Matilda’s introduction to academia: Crunchem Hall, presided over by the sadistic principal Miss Trunchbull. Outside of the cold stone walls and dilapidated interiors that harkens scenery straight from a Charles Dickens novel, it’s Trunchbull with her unique track-and-field inspired ways of doling out punishment to the students that make the school a nightmare. But even a ferocious hammer throw is nothing a little bit of latent telekinetic powers can’t handle!

Detention (2011)


School: Grizzly Lake High

Sometimes you just want to get through school without getting noticed, recognizing that this is just one stop on many journeys in life. But it’s practically impossible to go unnoticed at Grizzly Lake High where the students have to deal with masked slashers, aliens, and time traveling bears just to name a few.

Joseph Kahn’s Detention is aggressive in its style, which was overwhelming for most audiences on release. But it’s arguable that it’s precisely because of the sensorial boundaries that are pushed that the bonkers plot is not only elevated but actually finds narrative cohesion in the seemingly endless topping of style and substance from scene to scene. We see your hyperkinetic editing and raise you surprise time travel in a slasher movie! Highly stylized lighting and practical effects? Well then, how about a character who is part fly?! And while it may sound exhausting, you barely have a chance to think about catching your breath as you barrel towards the whirlwind finale.

Disturbing Behavior (1998)

Disturbing Behavior

School: Cradle Bay High

Cradle Bay, at first glance, is just like any other school. You have the jocks, the band nerds, the skaters but Cradle Bay High likes to add a little dash of new world order thrown in to spice things up! The Clark family, featuring a slightly too old James Marsden and a young Katherine Isabelle, move from Chicago to turn over a new leaf in Cradle Bay, attempting to escape the tragic memory of their brother’s suicide (Ethan Embry in a tiny cameo).

But while some schools have FCA or the Honor Roll, Cradle Bay has the Blue Ribbon Club: a cultish group of brainwashed students who want to be all they can be. The only side effect is vanilla tastes, uncontrollable horniness, and murderous rage. So, not too different than any normal teenager!

Disturbing Behavior is a slice of that late 90s middle finger to the system high school hysterics we just don’t really get anymore. The story is fast, if not exactly fresh, and has enough light sex and bloodletting to bring the teens in droves and leave nostalgic adults smiling. Come for Katie Holmes brooding angst, stay for William Sadler’s regionless accent and on the nose Pink Floyd references!

The Faculty (1998)

The Faculty

School: Herrington High School

A common misconception in schools is that teachers don’t understand their students; they can’t relate to them due to age or culture gaps. But the question that far few schools have ever asked is simple: maybe the teachers aren’t humans after all? Maybe they are just a race of thirsty AF aliens who are on a world tour body snatching anyone who gets in their way, from future The Daily Show host Jon Stewart to everyone’s favorite Jean Grey: Famke Janssen!

Directed by Robert Rodriguez with a script from Kevin Williamson, fresh off the success of the double slasher whammy of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty is late 90s teen horror at its finest. It has enough allusions to past sci-fi and horror films to keep diehard genre fans appeased, while also having a smart young cast of future superstars like Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, and Clea Duvall. Oh did I forget to mention this is the film debut of R&B singer Usher? YEAH! What more could you want in 90s high school horror?!

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Jacob Trussell is a writer based in New York City. His editorial work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Rue Morgue Magazine, Film School Rejects, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the author of 'The Binge Watcher's Guide to The Twilight Zone' (Riverdale Avenue Books). Available to host your next spooky public access show. Find him on Twitter here: @JE_TRUSSELL (He/Him)