Where the Not-So-Classic Class of 1984 Was Filmed in Toronto

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Where the Not-So-Classic Class of 1984 Was Filmed in Toronto

Michael J. Fox and Al Waxman make some (not-so-serious) Canadian film history.

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Class of 1984 is some kinda movie. Particularly after watching it in 2016, it’s hard to tell if it’s actually trying to be a serious issue movie, in a misguided Reefer Madness kind of way, or a full on exploitation-style B-movie. Its portrayal of crumbling inner city schools is so over the top and full of escalating, murderous violence, it’s hard to take seriously—and yet there seems to be not too much irony going on.

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This, for example, is the title card that opens the movie, so you might feel you’re about to watch a serious-if-melodramatic exploration a la Kids, or at least Dangerous Minds or Finding Forrester. Instead (spoiler alert!) you’re going to get something where the innocent high school music teacher does battle with the school’s top punk, who is only a notch or two below Alex DeLarge on the psycho scale.

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Playing the role of Inner City Hellhole…

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…is our own Central Tech…

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…both inside and out…

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…albeit with the addition of a lot of graffiti…

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…not to mention security guards, metal detectors…

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…and other harbingers of urban doom. You can see the school is overrun by those crazy punk kids, with their leather and their crazy music and their attitudes and whatnot.

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The kids at this high school do all sorts of crazy stuff, such as climbing huge flag poles, offering a bit of a view of the Randolph Centre for the Arts in the distance.

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Inevitably, this young man teaches us the limits of both nihilistic worldview and gravity.

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Look at this poor student, very upset about what has transpired. Don’t let the Beatle haircut or the missing “J” in the credits full you, because Canadian actor Michael Fox was soon to go on to some very big things!

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Our nemesis is this handsome fellow, Timothy Van Patten, who was also on the 70s cult series, The White Shadow (also set in an inner-city school). He doesn’t have that fine coif anymore, but he’s gone on to become one of the premier auteurs of the peak TV era, writing and directing some of the best episodes of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and The Wire.

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And our hero? Why that optimistic and naive music teacher is played by Perry King. Dude almost got to be Han Solo! And he gets to co-star with Roddy McDowall!

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Anyway, he and his wife live awfully close to the school…

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on Palmerston (somewhat obscured by a tree these days), south of Harbord. The 416 there is totally a coincidental shoutout; it’s the actual address!

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Another key location is the mean streets of downtown America. It’s pretty obviously and awesomely Elm Street at Yonge

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…You can see the old A&A Records, Zanzibar

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…this Mr. Sub, which is now an electronics repair shop

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…not to mention the punk club where they now serve bubble tea, and Barberians…

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…(where the steaks come well done!)…

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…and signs for the upscale Elmwood Spa.

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Also, they go inside the punk club (as punks are wont to do) and get to hear Hamilton’s own Teenage Head!

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We spend a lot of time in the area (which could be on the verge of major change)…

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…and Young Mr. Fox gets chased into this alley

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…beside the Arts & Letters Club…

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…though we assume it’s been cleaned up a bit since then. The important thing is that his teacher saves him from the bad guys and they never attack him again for the rest of the m–

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Oh, no!

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Yes, it’s a violent world out there, folks. Van Patten isn’t some ordinary high school nemesis. He runs a prostitution ring, deals heroin, rapes pregnant women…Any-hoo, with a punk like that, you just know you’re gonna get a rumble in a jungle.

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This one has gotten a bit nicer over the years…

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..it’s below the Richmond Street overpass and is now Underpass Park.

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But it’s not all switchblades and fake blood. There are also picnics!

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The landscape has changed a bit over the years, but this one looks like it’s over at Ashbridges Bay.

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When things start getting out of hand, King goes to visit the po-po. This was a real police station but has since been repurposed as the Beach’s Centre 55 Community Centre.

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And the detective is played by Al Waxman! Can we get him and Fox in a scene together?

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Bam! Thank you, Canadian film Gods!

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Gosh, it’s hard to know what else to say about this here movie. The score is by the guy who wrote the freakin’ Mission Impossible theme, and it does have a theme song by Alice Cooper (who spent some quality time in Toronto, babysitting Keanu Reeves). If you’re wondering whether there’s a point when the bad guy actually says the song title as a threat (“I am the future!”), uh yeah, he does.

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But (spoiler alert!) he isn’t.

It’s interesting to consider that people who graduated high school in 1984 are now happily middle-aged, civilization has not collapsed, and (pending this year’s election results) America has not descended into a punk-fuelled orgy of rape and destruction. So, that’s good.

Who is this movie for? Fans of Al Waxman and Michael J. Fox, for sure. People concerned about the deteriorating state of our (well, their) education system? Er, maybe not so much. Folks who can’t believe some of the crazy crap that’s been filmed here over the years? Yes. Oh, yes.

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