Plot: What’s it about?
Riff Randel (P.J. Soles) is a rebel, she likes to stir up trouble at times and her heroes are The Ramones, the punk rock band. She loves the band more than anyone should love a musical ensemble, so when a show by The Ramones is announced in her town, she almost goes insane. In order to get tickets and the best tickets available for the show, she decides to camp outside the box office. So she skips school for not one, not two, but three days, to make sure she gets the tickets she wants. Her efforts pay off, as she snares all the tickets she needs, so her rock ‘n’ roll adventure is on. But when she hands out all of her tickets but one to her friends, her own ticket is taken by the evil principal. Now it looks like Riff will have to miss the concert of a lifetime, but can she somehow figure out a way to be at the show?
This movie is all about The Ramones. So it doesn’t tell their story or give them the bulk of the screen time, but Rock ‘n’ Roll High School is all about The Ramones. P.J. Soles, who was twenty-nine when the film was made, stars as the high school senior who loves The Ramones. As a fan of horror cinema, I have seen a lot of Soles, but this is one of her few prominent roles. She is usually in much smaller roles, often fodder for whatever killer happens to be on the prowl. The movie is a basic high school comedy, but with such cool music involved, it is easy to look beyond the sometimes thin material. This is campish and not that good, but if you’re a fan of The Ramones, then it is a must see, without question. Disney’s disc offers the best version out there, the same transfer as before and a mixture of old and new supplements.
Video: How does it look?
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, though this is not anamorphic, despite the claims on the case. This is the same transfer found on the previous release, which leaves us with a decent, but not impressive presentation. The print is in solid condition, but there is frequent debris and while minor, grain is an issue at times. I found colors to be bright however, while contrast is no concern at all. I do wish this were a new visual effort, but this one isn’t that bad.
Audio: How does it sound?
Mono is mono, right? The music is the lone element that would benefit from surround sound and to be honest, I think it sounds fine in mono. The music has a raw sound and in this case, that is good news and helps set the proper tone. The rest of the elements are subdued and typical mono elements, very little life and usually thin in terms of scope. But dialogue is clean and no vocals are lost, so all in all, a decent treatment. Not the best, but it suits the material just fine.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Back to School is a fun retrospective featurette, which has some informative interviews and even stories of which bands were almost chosen instead of The Ramones. Roger Corman is joined by star Dey Young on an audio commentary session, in which the two discuss the production. The short shoot and low budget are covered well, while Young shares her perspective as a performer, which adds to the experience. Alan Arkush is present on a second track, joined by two other crew members. The session is casual and candid, so there is a lot of insight to be had in this one. This disc also includes audio outtakes of The Ramones’ performance, two radio ads, and the film’s theatrical trailer.