The Faculty (1998)

The Faculty, currently streaming on Netflix, is just as good as I remember it, and incorporates some of the best things from the 90s. Namely, putting Usher in teen movies and using an alien invasion as an allegory for how high school stifles creativity. Or something like that. Did I mention Usher?

OK, so the basic plot here is that we’ve got a Breakfast Club-like mishmash of students who are all trying to stop an alien invasion. Because when aliens come to take over earth, they’re going to be sneaky about it. That means taking over the faculty (did you get where the titles comes from yet?) of a high school in Ohio. A high school where John Stewart and Salma Hayek are part of THE FACULTY.  Let’s meet everyone else.
This is Casey Connor. He’s our Anthony Michael Hall nerd who’s just pleading for a makeover. The haircut alone is just begging his peers to hassle him every day, and they oblige. Casey is the photographer for the school paper, and we can thank him for discovering one of the alien creatures on the football field and bringing it into science class.
This is Delilah Profitt, our Molly Ringwald poor little rich girl. She’s editor or the school paper, head cheerleader, but sometimes she’s sad because her mom drinks. Her body gets taken over about halfway through the movie, so it’s no thanks to her when our gang finally beats the aliens.
This is Stan Rosado, our Emilio Estevez jock who’s conflicted about just being seen as an athlete. We can see by Stan’s dreamy stare that there’s not much going on behind those eyes, but that doesn’t stop him from quitting the football team so he can pursue more academic pursuits.
This is Stokely Mitchell, and because of her name alone she’s our Alley Sheedy outcast. Really, what did her parents expect with a name like that? Thankfully she spends all her alone time reading science fiction books so she knows just how to take care of an alien invasion.  
This is Zeke Tyler, our John Bender. He’s repeating his senior year, apparently because he spends all his study time selling homemade drugs and bootleg VHS tapes in the school parking lot. He’s also trying to start some Mary Kay Letourneau/Vili Fualaau action with Miss Burke, his teacher.
This is Marybeth Louise Hutchinson, a new student. If she were to have a Breakfast Club equivalent, I guess it would be some new annoying student who ruins everyone else’s life. She is boring, so it’s only natural that she gloms on the Zeke, our resident bad boy.
Now you know the players, so on with our story.
Here’s Casey and his science teacher, Jon Stewart, admiring the new animal Casey found on the football field. I hope teacher doesn’t dumbly reach his hand into the fish tank and get his body taken over by aliens. 
Oh man, something is bad wrong here. If you ever see a public school teacher looking happy and NOT beaten down by life, you should run as fast as you can.
John Stewart is the first teacher to be taken down by Zeke’s homemade, I don’t know, meth? Our heroes can now escape to Zeke’s garage where they can score, I mean, get more of his homemade drugs to fight the aliens. 
Delilah isn’t having any of this hero business, because she’s already been taken over by aliens! Twist. OK, everyone else, let’s head back to school and see if we can’t find out who the queen alien is and kill her. Things are not going well back at the high school.
Need your suspicions confirmed that high school athletes are the worst people ever? Here you are.
Things are not going well for Zeke’s lady crush, Miss Burke either. At least they can’t commit any felonies with most of her body missing.
Marybeth why are you naked?
Because she’s the alien queen! Burn it with fire! Or offer her some of Zeke’s homemade crack. And it works! Everything goes back to better than normal, and if the characters were going to write a final Breakfast Club like letter I think it would go something like this:
Dear Everyone,
We accept that we had to sacrifice our principal, two teachers, and some of our closest friends to fend off an alien invasion. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the past weeks.



We learned a dumb jock and a science fiction geek can fall in love if he quits the football team and she stops dressing like there was a sale at Hot Topic. 


The head cheerleader can love a nerd if he saves the world from aliens first.


 I guess we learned everyone will look the other way on Zeke and Miss Burke’s relationship because he’s a graduating senior, but some of us still find it gross.


 But I guess the biggest lessons we’ve learned are to always be wary of outsiders, and when life hands you problems, they can be solved with drugs. Lots of drugs.

A bit of trivia: The Faculty was Usher’s film debut, so we’ll leave you with Usher, looking like a thespian. 
Like us on Facebook for stuff about things you could be watching instead of getting anything else productive done!

For Your Consideration: MAC AND ME (1988)

I found this little treasure of awfulness and decided to investigate further. It got missed on my first pass through childhood, so here we are, over 25 years later and it demands to be resurfaced.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the synopsis:

A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world.

If you’re wondering why I cut and paste the movie synopsis from E.T.’s IMDB page, its because this movie is a total ripoff of that. And that’s all you need to know.

This movie will tell you that its good natured and often funny. This is not the case.

E.T. had the capacity to be loveable.  These aliens are straight out of someone’s drug induced feverish nightmare.

GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME.

A NASA probe came and sucked them up. That’s how they came to Earth.  Trust me, its just as stupid as it sounds.

Even these scientists are like, “Wait, what?”

 

Mac and Me felt that Elliott from E.T. wasn’t sympathetic enough, so we have Eric, who is in a wheelchair and who’s father has just passed away. What happened, you ask? Given how horrifying these aliens are, apparently the movie thought we’d be dealing with enough as it was.

Based on the family photo next to Eric, it seems Dad’s probably just hiding out in Latin America until whatever ugly incident  that he caused blows over.

Probably the most horrifying thing that happens in this movie is watching this kid helplessly roll down the mountain…

…and off a cliff.

Unfortunately, that’s not the most offensive thing in this movie. That honor goes to non stop product placement.

No one drinks anything but Coke.
The aliens will never leave…now that they’ve found Coke.

E.T. at least made Reese’s Pieces into a “sometimes food”. Mac pretty much just starts freebasing Coke.

The action of the scene is all background. Coke would like to politely remind you that its accepting new followers daily.

Quick! No time to waste – pump these aliens full of Coke, STAT!
It didn’t stop with Coke.  McDonald’s got itself a full 15 minute commercial halfway through this movie.
 This film had no good intentions.  NONE.

 


Should you have a fear of clowns, the sound of Ronald McDonalds’ laughter will grip your soul and take you to a deep dark place.

And then the product placements just got weird….

Well done Clearblue. Well done.

Eric and Mac, now disguised as a bear go to the world’s most choreographed birthday party, sponsored of course by McDonald’s. Tons of people turned out for this party….

…and practiced for hours before hand.

Eric came, sat in his wheelchair as usual and got to watch his new buddy show off his working legs in front of him.

Anytime you see an alien ravenously reading the LA Times, know that they are out to destroy us all.

Tell me, does this scene remind you of anything?

Nope, I got nothin’. If someone could enlighten me, I’d really appreciate it.

There’s a scene where the kids try to escape from the law with Mac and his alien family and end up in a grocery store. Its disturbing and upsetting for a number of reasons. First of all, as much as they try to pass this up as comedy, these aliens just look like deformed humans that are naked.

Secondly, people have two reactions upon seeing them. Casual observance and hysteria….

Queue the security guard with an actual gun. The alien responds by taking the gun and discharging it in a store full of adults and children, putting the whole “good natured and often funny romp” claim into question.

 

The conflict gets taken outside where, logically, more shots are fired which causes the supermarket and a nearby gas station to explode. Eric is caught int he explosion and dies.

That’s right. Our hero, already dealt a crappy hand in life, is killed by a freak accident where the aliens he was trying to help, blew up a supermarket that he was in close vicinity to.

All is not entirely lost – they come and raise him from the dead. Your move, E.T.

Not that our immigration system wasn’t broken enough as it is, Mac’s alien family is granted citizenship in exchange for bringing a American boy back from the dead.  There’s no way the thousands of immigrants who are trying to legally get citizenship aren’t feeling the slightest bit of rage.

Also, Eric may be revived from the dead, but that doesn’t mean he gets his legs back.

E.T. probably would have healed his legs. Just sayin’.

Here’s what I imagine the last page of the script reads:

“Our family drives off, looking all American (1950s) and ready to move on with the next phase – everyone will no doubt accept them and not even question what lurks under their weirdly fitting clothes.”

And then they leave us with this threat, which thankfully never came to fruition.

You’re welcome, America.

 

 

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: Starship Troopers 2 (2004)

Oh, Starship Troopers. You knew the audience thirsted for more and yet you held out until your budget was slashed by nearly $100 million, and made your fans look for your desperately on the shelves of their local Blockbuster as you craftily snuck past the theaters and went straight to DVD.  You knew your story was too good for big name distractions like Neil Patrick Harris and Casper Van Diem, but you did allow the girl from Nip/Tuck to be a part.

If you saw the first Starship Troopers, you’ll recall this propagandist romp through the future ended happily with a massive bug captured and Neil Patrick Harris happily prancing through an alien world in a suspiciously Nazi-ist uniform, then blazed into the credits in a fit of glory.

Never forget

The sequel is a more thoughtful affair. There’s some soldiers trapped in a underground bunker where they intermittently fight bugs and shout a lot. There’s a girl infected with an alien who is brought in and immediately set loose so she can infect the rest of the staff with sexiness…also murder.

Basically, its Invasion of the Body Snatchers. One by one, everyone gets infected except for the doe eyed recruit who happens to be pregnant….and a little bit psychic. Her words.

Beyond this, there was a lot of blood, a lot of shouting, people getting hit over the head with blunt objects and a monologue about how its funny we’re all born insane.

There’s also a real darkness to this film.  There’s only two places it was shot – a open quarry in the dead of night and the basement of a cheese factory that hasn’t paid their electric bill.  You can’t see a thing.

We open our story with a recruitment video and this terrifying face beckoning us all to fulfill our citizen’s duty…

Which moves us into battle….

There’s bugs and its dark….

Like, really dark….

And no one talks. Just shouts.

Its at this point, roughly 15 minutes into the film, this shot blows the entire budget.

 

 

Even the bugs are like, “Wait, we can’t afford craft services?”

When the fighting just becomes too much, they go back into their quarantine/abandoned Hostess factory where they tend to a sick girl they found out in the field.

She’s fine. In no time she’s up and around, seducing all the men on the ship….

 

Its always sad when you see someone trying just waaaaay too hard….

This is our heroine (I think. The movie wasn’t super clear on it…). She’s quiet, has no backstory and prefers to wear her serious face at all times.

Don’t bother trying to joke around with her. Its just not going to happen….

And never corner her. Never, never corner  her.

Thank God this movie wasn’t shown in 3D. That nerve might have popped out and hit me in the face.

They found a grizzled poor man’s version of Gerard Butler in a closet. Immediately, he springs into a serious face off with our heroine.

Our heroine is pregnant, therefore….

….she’s kind of psychic. Kind of, so don’t get any ideas or start treating her like a novelty act. What that does entail is that she closes her eyes and sees bugs and her coworkers.  Not necessarily doing anything, just visions.

You guys! Her superior is psychic too! Kind of….

And so begins the alien infestation. This happens. None of the psychics called it, but apparently, that’s not part of their skills. Also, that’s disgusting.

Meanwhile, this cool drink of water doesn’t realize he’s about to die. Otherwise, he would have put more clothes on.

This is the last thing you want to see when you realize you left your pants in the other room.

When will these people realize that its not the invasion we’re fighting, but its ourselves?!?!?! They’re all infected so its going to be awhile.

You’d think with the amount of times our heroine was given a big gun, she’d do some damage.  You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

In another darkened room and to save money in the budget, this scene was lit from a atomic powered flashlight.

Behold the mannish captain of the abandoned factory. This is a hard face. This is a face that challenges you.

Espescially when she’s holding your head up just to get a good look at it. On a side note, its just so….dark in here.

Maybe if we move outside it’ll be better….

Sigh….

Even outside, its just so dark.

The movie ends, with our heroine being the last one standing. We’re left with a poignant image of her walking away, child in hand,  from the institution that she spent so much time with. We’re left wondering the meaning of life, the meaning of violence and the meaning of this movie, that seemed to be clueless in everything it attempted.

For all of those unanswered questions, the filmmakers have no intention of leaving you behind.  That’s why they created this….

…Which was not enough to tell the whole story…