Ramones Lead Teen Rebellion

The Ramones are at the center of Rock n Roll High School’s zany musical escapades and rebellious teen spirit. Produced by Roger Corman, director Allan Arkush fashions an infectiously fun b-movie from the Seventies. Dated in spots, the movie remains a blast of teen energy.

Rock n Roll High School’s brand of humor and musical moments borrows liberally from three huge movies of the decade: Animal House, Grease, and Airplane. You see elements of all three working together in the Rock-driven 1979 ode to teen rebellion.

Hokey characters and cheesy plots aside, Rock n Roll High School rocks and rolls with an undeniable passion for its subject. Enthusiastic teen co-leads, lively performances by the Ramones, and satisfying high school antics scratch the right itch. Loaded with heavy tunes by the Ramones and other big acts, everyone from Paul McCartney to Chuck Berry, the b-movie is delightful fun.

… a blast of pure punk energy provided by the Ramones and a gaggle of memorable teen characters

Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) is a music rebel at Vince Lombardi High. Miss Togar (Mary Woronov) is the strict new principal with plans to run the school like the 1950s. The stern woman is decidedly against rock music and its supposedly corrupting influence. Miss Togar even has teen henchmen carrying out her agenda, two nerdy hall monitors enforcing her tyrannical control. They serve as comic relief.

One of the hottest bands going, the Ramones, come to town for a concert. Aided by her best friend Kate (Dey Young), Riff wants to share her own groovy songs with the Ramones. She has a big crush on Joey Ramone. A goofy side plot has Kate in a love triangle with Tom (Vincent Van Patten), the only handsome high school QB in history that has trouble finding a date.

If you know tunes such as “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Teenage Lobotomy,” Rock n Roll High School is your movie. The Ramones hold an extended mini-concert that kicks off the madcap final act, ending in chaos at the school.

Rock n Roll High School isn’t great filmmaking and doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. However, it’s a blast of pure punk energy provided by the Ramones and a gaggle of memorable teen characters. An updated riff on hip teen music fighting back against authority, the eccentric teen musical works far better than it should.

Video

Shout Factory delivers with a fantastic new transfer that supersedes their prior Blu-ray in every dimension. Slightly opening the presentation up with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this is by far the best Rock n Roll High School has ever looked. The low-budget movie still has a few issues with the source material.

Coming from a beautiful 4K scan of the camera negative, the new transfer offers improved contrast, better flesh-tones and a more suitable color correction. Proper saturation and grain reproduction are dialed in precisely. It’s not the world’s sharpest film, soft and muddy in spots. Definition is serviceable, flattening out during the concert held by the Ramones with limited shadow delineation.

The main feature runs 93 minutes, encoded in high-bitrate AVC on a BD-50. It’s a completely transparent video encode that perfectly replicates the new transfer’s better detail.

The film elements are in solid condition. Aside from a few stray marks, the film-like presentation perfectly recalls the cheap celluloid qualities of a ’70s Roger Corman movie. Debris isn’t an issue past the opening credits’ soft opticals.

Shout Factory delivers a wonderful remaster for the low-budget teen flick from 1979. If we can’t have Rock n Roll High School on UHD, this Steelbook edition on Blu-ray is the next best thing.

Audio

Rock n Roll High School features music from a stellar line-up of mostly ’70s rockers: The Ramones, Brian Eno, Todd Rundgren, Alice Cooper, Paul McCartney, Velvet Underground, and more. The b-movie’s original monaural soundtrack is heard in 2.0 DTS-HD MA. That is a vast improvement over the 2.0 Dolby Digital audio found on Shout Factory’s last version, but remains limited by the low-budget production’s naturally thin sound.

The songs have a punchy AM quality but this isn’t high-fidelity fare. Recording issues introduce pops and some hiss, audible on better sound systems. Dialogue is serviceable. Expect ordinary sound quality with a few slight problems. Certainly tolerable and the music’s joyous energy usually overcomes these limitations. This is the Ramones after all, not Beethoven.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Arriving in a handsome Steelbook edition for its 40th anniversary, Shout Factory brings over everything from their 2010 Blu-ray release for Rock n Roll High School besides the enclosed booklet and a few worthless photo galleries.

Bolstering a new feature-length documentary with heavy participation from director/co-writer Allan Arkush, the superb supplemental content leaves no stone unturned. Four separate commentaries provide different perspectives on the film, offering a wealth of production nuggets, casual discussion and frivolous moments.

Class Of ’79: 40 Years Of Rock N Roll High School (70:23 in HD) – Featuring a wealth of new interviews with director/co-writer Allan Arkush, co-director/story writer Joe Dante, lead actress P.J. Soles, screenwriters Richard Whitley & Russ Dvonch, cinematographer Dean Cundey, editor Larry Bock and others. Arkush details his early history, both musically and filmmaking with Roger Corman. Inspired by the Beatles and A Hard Day’s Night, Arkush became a filmmaker. Arkush fondly recalls his initial concerns over casting the Ramones, the giant mouse that appears in the film and the many challenges actually making the movie. One of the best behind-the-scenes documentaries this year.

Audio Commentary with Allan Arkush, Producer Mike Finnell And Co-Writer Richard Whitley

Audio Commentary with Allan Arkush And Actors P.J. Soles And Clint Howard

Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Richard Whitley And Russ Dvonch

Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Roger Corman And Actress Dey Young

Allan Arkush’s 2019 Sunday Slasher Rock n Roll High School Intro (05:30 in HD)

Back To School: A Retrospective (23:46 in SD) – An archival featurette with interviews from Allan Arkush, Executive Producer Roger Corman and others.

Staying After Class (16:02 in upscaled HD) – A group discussion with actors P.J. Soles, Vincent Van Patten and Dey Young all recalling their experiences working together.

Interview With Roger Corman Conducted By Leonard Maltin (04:36 in SD) – The producer discusses how he initially wanted to do this movie set to disco movie, only to be talked out of it.

Interview With Allan Arkush (11:35 in upscaled HD) – More from the director in this archival interview on his filmmaking history.

Audio Outtakes From The Roxy (15:24; 2.0 Dolby Digital) – Excerpts taken from the Ramones’ performance at the Roxy Theater on 12/14/78, a concert used for this movie.

Original Radio Ads (01:05) – Two separate radio spots.

Theatrical Trailer (02:11 in HD)

TV Spot (00:34 in upscaled HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Rock n Roll High School
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Driven by the Ramones and a powerful line-up of rock tunes, the musical/comedy delivers a blast of teenage rebellion in a fun package from the ’70s.

Sending
User Review
4 (1 vote)

The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 27 Rock n Roll High School screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 100,000+ already in our library), 100 exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.