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Film: Rock 'n' Roll High School

Rock 'n' Roll High School is a 1979 musical comedy film produced by Roger Corman, directed by Allan Arkush, and featuring The Ramones.

Vince Lombardi High School greets its latest principal, Ms. Togar (Mary Woronov), replacing yet another principal who went mad trying to keep the kids in line. Togar sets her evil sights on Riff Randall (P.J. Soles), who's popular, sexy, uncontrollable... and is the school's biggest fan of the Ramones. When the Ramones are scheduled to tour through the city, Riff tries out various schemes to ensure she gets to see the concert and even meet the band to give them a song she's written... but Togar wants Riff punished with detentions for eternity if it means getting rid of rock and roll from the school.

A sequel followed called Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever, which featured a few returning characters in addition to many new ones.

This film contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: The parents do absolutely nothing when The Ramones show up, prompting the question "Do your parents KNOW you're Ramones?"
  • Animal Motifs: White Mice. They're frequently blown up upon exposure to Ramones songs, And two human-sized, anthropomorphized mice show up.
  • Anything But That!: The lunch ladies' reactions to being pelted with the "Tuesday Surprise"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Quoth Mr. McGree, "You know, people say your music is loud and destructive and lethal to mice, but, I think you're the Beethovens of our time."
  • As Themselves: The Ramones, natch. Vince Lombardi only appears in photos.
  • Berserk Button: As soon as Principal Togar sets her students' records on fire, the students RIOT, put out the bonfire as quickly as possible, and then take over the school with help from their favorite band, The Ramones, whose concert they (and Mr. McGree) had attended the night before.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Ramones appear right when Mrs. Togar tries to burn her student's records—and just as the students are putting out the fire.
  • Book Dumb: Riff gives barely a thought to her studies, yet has amassed quite an impressive songwriting portfolio.
  • Captain Obvious: "Does your parents KNOW you're Ramones?"
    • Can count as an In-Joke as none of the band were actually related; the name was taken from an early alias of Paul McCartney. The stage names, and the gimmick of the boys pretending to be brothers, were both Dee Dee's idea
  • Chainsaw Good: At the end, Riff takes a chainsaw to the permanent records.
  • Cool Car: The customized Chevy Van that Eaglebauer provides for Tom for his big date, and the '59 Cadillac convertible used by the Ramones.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mr. McGree who by the end, becomes the only teacher who supports the students' revolt, and dances with Riff.
  • Cute Bookworm: Kate.
  • Dance Party Ending: To "Rock 'n' Roll High School".
  • Dream Sequence: Riff fantasizes about the Ramones in her bedroom.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Features a solo Fakeout Makeout in which one of the protagonists turns towards a corner, wraps his arms around himself and mimics the sounds of a couple making out, successfully fooling his pursuers.
  • Fat and Skinny / Those Two Guys: The Hall Monitors.
  • Freudian Slip: Ms. Togar is constantly asking one of her henchmen to read back notes, which constantly turn into his BDSM fantasies of her.
  • Funny Background Event: Frequently, an example of which is when Riff puts a slice of pizza in a folder as a memento and Dee Dee looks at her like she's crazy.
  • Gambit Roulette: There's no way Riff and her friend planned on getting their tickets back because they didn't plan that method—the RADIO STATION did. What's more, the station itself didn't hear of Riff's latest confrontation with Principal Togar, making this a mix of this and Spanner in the Works.
  • Genre Throwback: Producer Roger Corman's intent was to recreate the teen movies he started out making.
  • Girl Next Door: Kate (Dey Young), the Hollywood Homely best friend to Riff, who has a crush on star athlete Tom Roberts.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The music teacherm Mr. McGree.
  • High School Hustler: Eaglebauer. He works in a office room installed in one of the boys' bathrooms, complete with secretary managing his deals.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The lip-synching is off in parts, but gets really noticeable during the end performance of "Rock 'n' Roll High School".
  • Madness Mantra: All Ms. Togar can say in the end is "Detention."
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Released in 1979, Set in 1980.
  • Out-Gambitted: Possibly the only film where a gambit falls victim to another gambit, which falls victim to a cross between a Gambit Roulette and a Spanner in the Works.
  • Parental Abandonment: When Riff tries to excuse herself from school in order to wait in line for Ramones tickets: she sends letters claiming her father, her mother, and her goldfish die. Ms. Togar proves she lied when her school guards find the goldfish alive and well.
    Togar: We can assume the parents are still alive... somewhere.
  • The Power of Rock: The Ramones using rock and roll to help take over a high school? It doesn't get much cooler than that.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Screw you, Mrs. Togar, we made it to the concert anyway!" Worth mentioning because it was spoken over the radio.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Riff and Kate, respectively. And they're often color-coded as well.
  • Rule of Cool / Rule of Funny
  • Running Gag: The Ramones' music is apparently lethal to mice to the point where they blow up.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: White mice, and the school itself.
  • Stuffed into a Locker: Happens to a hapless and anonymous freshman in a throwaway gag.
  • Surreal Humor: Constantly, an example being the scenes with Mr. McGree at the concert, flanked by a giant anthropomorphic mouse and a Native American in traditional garb who offers him a pipe.
  • Trash the Set: Mount Carmel High School, where the film was shot, had closed a few years earlier, so they were free to have a giant party and blow the whole place up at the end.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Miss Togar winds up in a straitjacket.
  • What Could Have Been: Musical artists considered to appear as Riff's favorite were Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick, Devo, and Van Halen.

The sequel contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Mary Woronov once again plays a villainous principal like she did in the first film. The only difference is that here, she's A Nazi by Any Other Name whose regime Crosses the Line Twice at the mere sight of someone singing or dancing.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Inverted when Principal Vadar lists the punishable offenses under her new regime. Singing and dancing are at the top, while smoking is considered among the least offensive to her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Principal Vadar just loves this trope. Scarily enough, she's more lenient toward smoking (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Principal Vadar. Unlike Mrs. Togar from the first film, she actually turns her school into a concentration camp.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Since McGree started running things, Rock N Roll High School Day has become an annual tradition at the school (which had relocated due to the destruction of the previous location in the first film). This contributes to the school landing on probation for consecutive years, which gives rise to the regime of Principal Vadar...
  • The Power of Rock: Weaponized here again.
  • Reality Ensues: The school finds itself on probation for consecutive years due to the events of the first film. Averted (for all the wrong reasons) when Principal Vadar takes over.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: How does McGree react to his school being destroyed a second time? He simply shrugs it off as deja vu and another opportunity to relocate.

9 SongsConcert FilmStop Making Sense
QuintetFilms of the 1970sThe Rose
Rio BravoDanny Peary Cult Movies ListThe Rocky Horror Picture Show
Road to ...Creator/Shout! FactoryRocko's Modern Life

alternative title(s): Rock And Roll High School
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