The Faculty (1998)

Rating: C+

Dir: Robert Rodriguez
Star: Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen, Jordana Brewster, Elijah Wood

There is a small but well-defined subset of Japanese animation, into which this movie fits quite comfortably. It has the school location and the invading tentacled teachers – all it really needs is the latter to rape a few doe-eyed pubescents, and hey presto, we’ve got Legend of the Overfiend, Hollywood-style. That it wimps out in this area is not surprising, but may partly explain why the film is rather more fun when cranking out ominous tension, than going for the gross-out. This is especially so, against someone like me who has, to quote Roy Batty, “seen things you people wouldn’t believe” in animated form. Hah! It takes more than a forked tongue coming out of someone’s mouth – even Famke Janssen’s – to faze me.

Was amused by the pro-drug undertone, with the reaction to dubious pharmaceuticals being the way to tell humans from aliens. The teachers give excellent value for money, Patrick displaying ambivalent menace, even in simple things like drinking a glass of water. The kids are the usual parade of broad stereotypes e.g. jock, nerd, Goth chick, new girl, and although this gallops along nicely, there are precious few surprises – it says a lot that Rodriguez nicks his best scene, almost shot-for-shot, from The Thing.