Shaky High School Violence

Hollywood producer Don Murphy is known for the Transformers franchise and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, but he first cut his teeth in the business writing and directing the little known Monday Morning. Released in 1990 long before anyone had ever heard of Columbine high school, the sensationalized tale of a gun showing up at school with disastrous consequences is a product of its time.

Starring Noah Blake, Julianne McNamara, Jason Lively, and Lisa Rinna, Monday Morning is mostly what it appears from the outside – an unrefined effort by a first-time director and writer fresh out of film school. It’s a cheesy high school flick with no big stars, ripping off the young lovers’ aspect of Romeo and Juliet while grafting in a ridiculous clash struggle between a poor student and the preppy rich kids who think they run the school.

Monday Morning’s energy lies in a tense final act when a teacher is shot

Most of Monday Morning’s energy lies in a tense final act when a teacher is shot, creating a stand-off inside the building when police become involved. Things badly spiral out of control for everyone at school. The low-budget effort has a few moments of note but remains largely forgettable beyond its shocking school shooting. It’s a cheap movie with an uneven message.

Bobby (Noah Blake) is an outsider at Oceana High, a new student in his senior year. He begins seeing Noreen (Julianne McNamara), a girl he isn’t supposed to date because her brother James (Brandon Hooper) is the class leader and a snobby bully by trade. James and his friends have it in for Bobby, constantly harassing him.

James gets the bright idea of “scaring” Bobby by bringing a gun to school and talks his dopey minions into assisting this farce. As you can guess, things go badly wrong and Bobby is soon in a terrible predicament. Surrounded by terrified fellow students, one bad decision after another leads down a dark and violent path.

Don Murphy’s screenplay is a struggle in changing tones. The first two acts play out like an afternoon special plucked from the ‘70s married to a hokey adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Then it becomes a far more serious and different film.

Contrived characters and slipshod acting performances congeal around the hammy class conflict which lies at Monday Morning’s well-meaning heart. The awful events which unwind in the final act creates flashes of tension and suspense but are a pale imitation of accomplished filmmaking.

Video

The main feature receives a new film transfer from the original camera negative, reproducing the movie’s intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Average definition and modest detail reveal a cheap film made in 1988 on the quick by inexperienced filmmakers. The elements are in fair condition for their vintage, neither remarkable nor extraordinary.

There are a couple of major issues here bringing the entire presentation down a notch. Monday Morning has likely never looked better since its premiere days in 1990 but that is no excuse for MVD’s shoddy authoring problems.

Strange encoding glitches pop up all over the place, weird single frames pulled from elsewhere in the movie that quickly flash on screen. You have to slow the movie down frame-by-frame to catch them in full. Is this a deal-breaker? Probably not but it greatly lowers the transfer’s film-like nature and proves distracting as the drama gets going.

The other problem is a sloppy color timing, which gets some things right and some things wrong. The rick black levels mostly hold up even during darker scenes. Detail is not overwhelming refined despite mostly impressive clarity. Grain reproduction is rough, possibly filtered on some level. A magenta push produces over-saturated primary colors and even garishly tinted scenes.

The AVC encoding breathes on a BD-50 with generous parameters, competently handling the older film stock without artifacts.

Monday Morning is unlikely to ever receive another reissue on home video, so fans will have to live with this HD transfer. This is a steady but underwhelming job. The 1080p video reflects the movie’s budget and MVD’s technical glitches mar an otherwise competent but unrefined presentation. It’s a cautious recommendation at best for careful videophiles.

Audio

Monaural 2.0 PCM audio provides serviceable dialogue reproduction and adequate fidelity. This is a limited recording with occasionally hissy sound and low-level background noise. The only music which sticks out in the entire soundtrack is a contemporary cover of the Mamas and the Papas’ “Monday Monday” tune. The rest comes off as generic New Wave pablum.

Dialogue is somewhat softly rendered and recessed in the mix, possibly buried by the dynamically mastered range. The sound design is lackluster and decidedly low-budget in effect.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a yellow font.

Extras

Monday Morning is #38 in MVD’s Rewind Collection line-up. It arrives on Blu-ray with a retro-looking VHS-like slipcover and a mini-poster in a clear case. A reversible inside cover features alternate artwork. The disc is marked for all regions.

A fairly substantial set of special features include a slightly alternate version plucked from the film’s VHS days and a new interview with director Don Murphy.

Class of Fear (97:34 in 4:3 SD; 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono) – This is an alternate version of Monday Morning which made its way out on VHS shelves. Aside from credit changes, there are no major differences between this and the complete version found in HD.

Interview With Writer & Director Don Murphy (52:51 in HD) – A new interview with the major Hollywood producer looking back on his early days in the business and his filmmaking career.

Don Murphy: Portrait of a Producer (24:01 in HD) – This featurette has appeared before on Double Dragon: The Movie. The 2019 interview has Don Murphy discussing various details of his long history.

Promo (02:26 in HD)

Double Dragon Trailer (01:51 in SD)

Dirty Laundry Trailer (02:21 in HD)

Action U.S.A. Trailer (01:51 in SD)

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.

Monday Morning
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Hollywood producer Don Murphy’s first and only effort as director is a strange mishmash of violent sensationalism and a weirdly naive perspective on clashing high school kids which bores and confounds in equal measures.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 34 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: