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Film / The Faculty

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"If you were going to Take Over the World, would you blow up the White House Independence Day-style, or sneak in through the back door?"

The Faculty is a 1998 Teen Horror film directed by Robert Rodriguez, his first in which he only served as director and not a writer. The story involves a parasitic alien landing in small-town Ohio and turning the faculty of a High School into its puppets, followed by the students and the rest of the town.

Six students, however, manage to find out what's going on: nerdy kid and school newspaper photographer Casey Connor (Elijah Wood), queen bitch Delilah Profitt (Jordana Brewster), Goth chick Stokely Mitchell (Clea DuVall), drug-dealing delinquent Zeke Tyler (Josh Hartnett), academically-challenged football player Stan Rosado (Shawn Hatosy), and new transfer student Marybeth Louise Hutchinson (Laura Harris). Together, they set out to put a stop to the aliens, armed only with Zeke's drugs — which are instantly fatal to the aliens — and their knowledge of Alien Invasion movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Among the rare successful horror comedies (especially out of the bunch that followed in Scream's wake), both very funny and very scary. The film's writer, Kevin Williamson, also wrote the first two Scream movies, which helped it to avoid making the mistakes of many of the copycat teen horror movies of the late '90s. Expect loads of creative gore and really creative casting.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Athlete: It's not the main plotline, but the football coach does mention Casey's athletic ability after seeing him run away from aliens.
  • Alien Invasion: The villains are an parasite alien species that are invading Earth. The Hive Queen says claims the water of their planet is gone, which is why she came to Earth, although how her planet was ruined or the means of how she got there are never elaborated on.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Lampshaded and justified. When one character claims that it would be absurd for aliens to secretly invade via a High School in a small town and Brainwash the population, another Genre Savvy character points out that this would attract a lot less attention than attacking a big city, which the whole world will notice.
  • And Some Other Stuff: Zeke's drugs are made from a mixture of "caffeine pills and some other household shit." Given that the drugs dehydrate the aliens to the point of killing them, the Other Stuff in this case is likely NaCl and dehydrated Placebo, unless it's a case of Bizarre Alien Biology.
  • Assimilation Plot: The Hive Queen wants to turn the entire population of her into her part of her hive mind.
  • Axes at School: Zeke pulling a gun on the principal, who he and his friends suspect to be controlled by the alien Puppeteer Parasite, in the gym and forcing her to snort his homemade drug (which dehydrates and kills the parasites) or else he'll shoot her. She refuses and threatens to have him expelled, which is not the wisest thing to say to somebody who is holding a gun to your head. That said, she was possessed, which lets her get right back up until the other protagonists dump a ton of Zeke's powdered drug all over her face, killing her for good. One of the rare instances where the kid with the gun is portrayed as the unambiguous hero.
  • Beautiful All Along: Miss Burke is an evil version of this trope. All it takes to make her look sexy is fixing her hair, dropping her glasses and giving her a red tank top, and everyone treats her like a Head-Turning Beauty... but this occurs after she's been turned into an alien puppet. (Though being played by Famke Janssen certainly doesn't hurt either).
  • Big Bad Friend: The alien Hive Queen is revealed to be Marybeth shapeshifted into a human, and being part of the main characters from the beginning.
  • Body Horror:
    • The parasite dehydrates the old Mrs. Brummel to the point where her skin falls off of her body.
    • Marybeth's transformation into her alien form.
  • Book Dumb / Brilliant, but Lazy: Zeke is clearly very smart and resourceful, yet he's repeating his senior year because, instead of focusing on school, he chooses to concentrate on pursuits such as manufacturing drugs and dealing various illegal merchandise to other students.
  • Blank Stare: One of the signs that a human has recently been infected is their blank, unfocused stare.
  • Breakfast Club: The film is basically The Breakfast Club as a sci-fi horror movie with parasitic aliens, with the protagonists' personalities and roles mapping fairly closely to their counterparts in that film. (Stan —> Andy, Delilah —> Claire, Casey —> Brian, Zeke —> Bender, and Stokely —> Allison.) The fact that Marybeth doesn't have an obvious counterpart from The Breakfast Club is, in fact, a pretty early clue that she's actually the Big Bad.
  • Break Them by Talking: Used multiple times by the pod people against the heroes, but the big one is delivered by the Hive Queen in her Marybeth form. When the Big Bad confronts Casey in the locker room, the Big Bad tries to convince him that, by joining the aliens, he will be happy and will no longer have to suffer through humiliation at the hands of his peers. When Casey refuses to be swayed, the Big Bad simply gives up, tells him that it's too late and that the aliens have already won, and comes after him.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Zeke is repeating his senior year, but claims to be a genius and what we see supports his claim. Presumably he simply didn't put in the work to graduate.
  • Brick Joke: During the credits, clips from the movie are used to accompany all of the lead actors except for Jon Stewart. He's shown teaching again, only with an eye patch and his hand bandaged.
  • Cassandra Truth: After Casey witnesses the nurse being attacked in the faculty lounge, he tells his parents who immediately call the police. Of course, the teachers are able to convince the cops that Casey is just a paranoid teenager, and the "body" he saw was really just a dummy. His parents ground him over this.
  • The Cameo: By Harry Knowles, founder of influential nerd-media website Ain't It Cool News, of all people. He appears as one of the teachers in the faculty lounge.
  • Censor Shadow: The darkness is used to cover up the Hive Queen's naughty bits when she's going on a Full-Frontal Assault in the climax. It doesn't work so well on the DVD, though.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Zeke's drug stash in his car, which comes back into play in the ending when he has to retrieve them.
  • Clark Kenting: The popular girl Delilah, in order to avoid being recognized by the aliens (who are targeting the most popular kids in school so that they can infect the most people), briefly disguises herself as a nerd by putting on Nerd Glasses. It works about as well as you would expect it to work — she gets infected anyway.
  • Closet Shuffle: While breaking into the teacher's lounge looking for a scoop, Casey and Delilah hide in a broom closet when they hear teachers approaching. Here, they find the dead body of Mrs. Brummel and witness the school nurse get held down and infected.
  • Covers Always Lie: Despite Zeke being in the front on the cover, Casey, behind Delilah, is the protagonist.
  • Cursed with Awesome: A side effect of the alien parasites is that they can heal any injury inflicted on their host. Principal Drake gets stabbed through the hands and carved up with scissors, but is fully healed by the time she's possessed. Ms Burke gets decapitated and the aliens can reattach her head in time for her to be alive and well in the ending.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Like Scream, this movie takes many of the typical characters you'd expect to see in a high school setting and either deconstructs or subverts their characters in story relevant ways.
    • Casey: Stereotypical Nerd. However, being studious, constantly bullied, and a social outcast works in his favor. He's astute enough to be one of the first to notice the alien invasion going on, his social outcast status made it hard for him to even get infected, and years outrunning bullies makes him a natural long-distance runner which comes in handy in the climax when he needs to outrun the alien queen.
    • Delilah: Cruel Cheerleader and Alpha Bitch. She is a cheerleader and can be mean, but her targets are those she thinks are acting stupidly and those who are jerks themselves, making her something of a Bully Hunter. At the film's end she even Gives Geeks A Chance by leaving her jock boyfriend for Casey.
    • Stan: Dumb Jock. He feels that his heavy involvement as the captain of the football team is damaging his academic performance, and that his teachers are giving him preferential treatment just because he's a star athlete. This causes him to quit the team in order to focus on schoolwork. He'd rather fail honestly than get a free ride through high school and college that'll leave him unprepared for life afterwards.
    • Stokely: Psycho Loner Goth. She's intentionally abrasive to ward off Abhorrent Admirers, going so far as even faking that she's a lesbian. Also, her interests in sci-fi make her Genre Savvy enough to know they have to kill the alien queen to save everyone.
    • Zeke: Delinquent. Yeah, he sells students drugs and celebrity sex tapes, but he's also revealed to be Brilliant, but Lazy, making a homemade drug test kit that proves to be toxic to the aliens. He also is never infected, along with Casey, because his criminal background and know-how makes him well-suited for dealing with the situation at hand.
    • Marybeth: Final Girl. The viriginal, Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold facade is a literal facade, as she is actually the Hive Queen just wearing a human disguise.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Coach Willis is shown acting like this before he gets infected, even greeting the alien with a dismissive "Yeah? What?" as it approaches him via Murderer P.O.V.. Getting taken over by the alien parasite gives him a far more cool and composed attitude, to the point of shrugging off the star quarterback Stan's announcement that he's quitting the team.
  • Drugs Are Good: It's very difficult to believe that the film didn't promote a message like this. There are loads of things that can be a monstrous alien's downfall from Applied Phlebotinum to Weaksauce Weakness, but what absolutely kills the vicious aliens that harbor goals of assimilation and replacement? Narcotics! Yep. Cleverly disguised as writing pens so you can use the drugs in class. What is the surefire way to tell that your friend hasn't been infected with an alien parasite in this movie? Why, see if they can use drugs without dying, of course.
  • Dwindling Party: Delilah is the first to be turned into an alien, followed by Stan and Stokely, the latter offscreen by Marybeth, who it turns out was the Hive Queen all along. Casey and Zeke are the only ones not to be infected, although Zeke takes quite a beating from the Queen, and Casey is seconds away from getting infected before the Queen dies.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: The Alien Invasion that was meant to Take Over the World is stopped by a bunch of high school kids and a homemade drug.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Marybeth turns out to be one of the alien variety.
  • Everybody Lives: Surprisingly, there is a total of three casualties (if Jon Stewart's character turning up in the ending credits isn't canon) in the whole film, none of whom are the main characters.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: A key scene is all the kids snorting Zeke's homemade meth-like drugs(actually ground-up caffeine pills) to determine if anyone is infected with the alien parasites: the powder is a diuretic, and dries them out. Intoxication Ensues. And Delilah is revealed to be infested.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Hive Queen gives a speech during the climax telling Casey that he could live in a world in which he's no longer bullied, there are no more cliques, and he and all of his classmates get along with each other in perfect harmony... if he surrenders and lets the Puppeteer Parasite take him.
  • Evil Teacher: The teachers are the first people to get infected by the Puppeteer Parasites, and spread it from there.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Mr. Furlong gets stabbed in the eye by Zeke with one of his drug pens.
    • Casey also kills the Hi Ve Queen this way in the climax.
  • Fake American: Canadian actress Laura Harris as the Southern girl Marybeth, complete with a ridiculously over-the-top Southern accent. In-Universe, this also applies to Marybeth herself, making it a justified example.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Subverted. While breaking into the school's storeroom to steal ingredients for his drugs, Zeke cites the trope to reassure Marybeth should they be caught. However, the two aren't patient and start making out regardless.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: Discussed, but probably just speculative. After all, the aliens just showed up that week.
    Stokely: So aliens have just been setting us up over the years, creating this happy little make-believe existence, with their E.T.s and their Men in Black movies, just so no one would believe it if it really happened?
    Casey: I think so.
  • Fingore: Mr. Furlong is bitten by the alien specimen that Casey finds. It takes a nice chuck out of his pointer finger. Later, after having been infected by the aliens, he has all four fingers of one hand cut off by a paper slicer.
  • Foreshadowing: Lots of it, concerning the identity of the Big Bad.
    • This wonderful line from Marybeth:
    Marybeth: I'm feeling pretty alien myself today.
    • During the drug scene, Marybeth tries to get out of taking Zeke's drugs by arguing that they would probably kill her due to her allergies. She's right — because she's an alien. Furthermore, she doesn't act high until well after she's supposedly ingested Zeke's drug, and is the only one to take it where we don't see the drug leave the pen tube. She tilts her head back and later her tube is empty.
    • The other students mention a master, but the first person to refer to a "Queen" and continually refer to her as "her" is Marybeth.
    • One that's so subtle that most people miss it the first time around: when the heroes confront Principal Drake, assuming her to be the Queen, Marybeth empties almost their entire supply of Zeke's drugs over her even after she's been stabbed with a pen full of the stuff. We're meant to assume she's panicking, but she's actually doing this so that they'll run out quicker, just as the stoners try to literally buy all of Zeke's supply after becoming infected... so that no one will realize the aliens' weakness.
    • Mr. Furlong, after failing to hit on Nurse Harper, grumbles that he'd rather "get a pen in his eye." Later, after he's been converted, Zeke does precisely that to him.
    • One of the others says that Casey thinks he's Sigourney Weaver. He's the Final Boy.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Marybeth while chasing Casey in the locker room.
  • Full-Name Basis: Marybeth always introduces herself by her full name, Marybeth Louise Hutchinson.
  • Genre Savvy: This is a late '90s teen horror film — it goes with the territory. The teenagers are well aware of Alien Invasion movies and reference them multiple times while dealing with the alien parasites taking over their school.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Two examples.
  • Glamour Failure: In addition to the obvious changing attitudes of Puppeteer Parasites, people infected with the alien parasite can be discerned by their need to drink lots of water, as the things quickly dehydrate their hosts. This is also why Zeke's drugs are so effective against them (the drugs absorb water and dehydrate people).
    • They get better at pretending to be human as the film goes on. By the time Stan is infected, the only way they know for sure it's not him is that he refuses to snort scat.
  • Glasses And Ponytail Cover Up: Delilah dons a pair of glasses to avoid getting detected by the alien-possessed teachers. We see her infected later, so it clearly didn't work.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Used multiple times as the humans infected can regenerate all kinds of grusome injuries, and all return to normal by the end of the movie. However, it's subverted in the case of Professor Furlong, who after being turned back human isn't able to regenerate and is subjected to an eyepatch and four missing fingers at the movie's closing.
  • Groin Attack: Near the beginning of the film, Casey gets picked up by a group of bullies, has his legs spread apart and gets his crotch slammed into a light pole.
  • High School: The whole incident takes place within the compounds of a high school
  • Hit You So Hard, Your X Will Feel It!: Mild-mannered teacher Ms. Burke, after she's been infected with the alien parasite, drops this bomb on Zeke:
    Ms. Burke: I'm sick of you, little boy! And if I have to see you peddling your little Wonder Dust again, I'm gonna shove my foot so far up your ass, you'll be sucking my toes 'till graduation!"
  • Hive Queen: When Zeke does an autopsy on one of the alien Puppeteer Parasites, he notices that it lacks several organs that are necessary to sustain itself independently and thus cannot survive on its own, and from there correctly surmises that there is a hive queen with a telepathic link to all of the parasites. The second half of the film is spent trying to figure out who the hive queen is, with the characters going through a number of incorrect guesses, including Coach Willis and Principal Drake (the latter of whom they kill), before Marybeth reveals herself as such.
  • Homage:
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: In the opening, when Principal Drake gets stabbed not once but twice by two different teachers, both teachers say "I've always wanted to do that" afterwards.
  • I Was Just Joking
    Casey: Everyone's been acting really weird, especially the faculty.
    Stokely: Tell me about it; it's like they've all turned into fucking pod people or something.
    Casey: Into what people?
    Stokely: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Small town gets taken over by aliens... That was a joke.
  • Impaled Palm: Coach Willis stabs a pencil straight through Principal Drake's hand and it makes a gruesome crunch when he yanks it back out again. She is understandably horrified.
  • Implausible Deniability: During the climax, Marybeth has been exposed as the Hive Queen controlling the Puppeteer Parasites that have taken over the school. Zeke, who doesn't yet know this, shows up and has to play Spot the Impostor between Marybeth and Stokely, with Marybeth claiming that Stokely is not only the real Hive Queen but also a Psycho Lesbian who tried to rape her. One problem: Marybeth is completely naked, having just shapeshifted back into her human form but having left her clothes behind, and she's extremely nonchalant about it. Zeke takes one look and asks the obvious question.
    Zeke: Answer me something, Marybeth... why are you naked?
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: After the students learn that Zeke's homemade drugs are fatal to the aliens, they force everyone in the group to take the drugs to make sure that none of them are spies. Delilah is exposed as being under the aliens' control by the test, and trashes Zeke's drug lab and runs off. Marybeth is also an alien (the Hive Queen, in fact), but manages to beat the test by sealing her nostrils. Everyone else gets really high and starts laughing hysterically. They later try to force the principal (who is infected) to do the same, but she refuses, causing them to shoot her dead and dump the drugs on her body to keep her down.
  • Improvised Weapon: Zeke yanks the blade off a paper cutter in order to defend the group from Mr. Furlong.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: A subtle enough example that the characters never pick up on it and that you might not notice it the first time around - Marybeth is the first person to mention an alien "queen" and to refer to the leader of the aliens with female pronouns.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When Zeke is selling pens full of drugs to some students, he tells them that the stuff is "guaranteed to jack you up." Casey later repeats this line before he stabs and kills Marybeth with one of these pens.
    • While snooping in the teachers' lounge, Casey tells Delilah that she can be "pretty cool sometimes" (i.e. when she's not being the Alpha Bitch). Delilah asks if he's hitting on her. At the end of the film, Delilah repeats this line to Casey, whom she is now dating.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Casey ends up in this situation when he brings the police to the school to recover Mrs. Brummel's body. When they open the closet, the body has disappeared and been replaced with a Resuscitation Annie Doll.
  • "Join Us" Drone: Late in the film, the alien-infected Stan and Delilah and the alien Hive Queen Marybeth each try to convince the remaining protagonists to embrace the Puppeteer Parasite and join their Hive Mind, claiming that they won't be persecuted for being nerds, or goths, or outcasts anymore. Naturally, they aren't interested.
  • Jump Scare: Early on, when Casey, Delilah, Stan and Stokely are talking about aliens taking over the school in a classroom, Zeke bursts into the room with an unexpected yell making Casey jump. Later, almost near the end of the film, Zeke slams up against a locker and Casey jumps yet again with some profanity. Sure, there's other jump scares in this film, but it seems like Zeke really loves just scaring the absolute shit out of Casey for the hell of it...
  • Kill Him Already!: Happens twice. First when the characters discover Delilah has been infected and taken over, and Casey grabs the gun but hesitates to shoot while the others yell for him to either shoot or not shoot, and she gets away before Stokely can grab the gun and go through with it. The second time, Zeke grabs the gun and shoots the suspected alien queen before she can get free, not taking any chances.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Mr. Tate starts history class by repeating the prior week's lecture from chapter 4, espousing the values of conformity among the masses for the purposes of establishing a unified state. Stan is quick to remind him that they were on chapter 5 instead, which is about individual action in society. In this case, it's the teacher himself who's the subject of the foreshadowing as much as the content of his lecture.
  • The Mole: Played straight when Delilah gets infected. Slightly subverted with Marybeth who, unlike most Moles, isn't working for the bad guys—she's their leader.
  • Monster Progenitor: The Hive Queen gave birth to all the smaller Puppeteer Parasite aliens.
  • Mysterious Teacher's Lounge: Casey and Delilah break into the teachers' lounge in order to get a story for the school newspaper. This isn't the first time they'd done this; Delilah had gone in there before to discover that one of the teachers was drinking on the job. They wind up finding the corpse of Mrs. Brummel in the closet, as well as Coach Willis and Mrs. Olson infecting the school nurse with the alien parasite.
  • New Transfer Student: Marybeth has just moved to town from Atlanta. Or so she says.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Justified. After Zeke examines one of the parasites, he notices that it doesn't have all the necessary organs to sustain itself independently and concludes (correctly) that there must be an alien queen with a telepathic link to all of her "offspring." Killing her would kill all the parasites, returning everyone to their normal selves.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Even though the alien-controlled teachers make up a cover story for what he saw that would still realistically scare a teenager, Casey's parents decide he needs counseling, search his room for drugs and decide to take away his phone, internet, stereo and even his Porn Stash, which they seem bizarrely completely okay with.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Stan and Stokely kiss before Stan goes out to see if the people outside are still infected, with Stokely remarking that she didn't want to have never done that.
  • Orifice Invasion: The Puppeteer Parasite take control of their human hosts by invading their bodies via their ears.
  • Police Are Useless: Casey calls the police after he finds his teacher's dead body in the faculty lounge closet and witnessed the coach attacking and infecting the school nurse. Predictably, the faculty sets things up to make Casey look like an Attention Whore and the cops don't believe anything he says. To make matters worse, the principal manages to infect one of the cops, who goes on to infect the rest of the police force by the next day.
  • Porn Stash: One of the punishments Casey gets from his parents for embarrassing them is to remove his pile of dirty magazines from under his bed.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Doubling as an Ironic Echo when Casey deals the final blow to the Hive Queen:
    Casey: Guaranteed to jack you up.
  • Properly Paranoid: After Marybeth and Stokely are both revealed as aliens, Zeke demands that Casey take another hit of the alien-killing drug even though he already took it before. As Zeke justifiably points out, he's only been gone for five minutes and nearly everybody besides him is already an alien by that point.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Hive Queen gives birth to slug-like aliens who reproduce in their hosts' bodies and can be spread to other hosts through the ear (or other opening).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Marybeth gives one to Casey at the end, telling him how lonely and pathetic his life is and how much better off he'll be if he joins her. See Break Them by Talking.
  • Recycled In Space: The Breakfast Club with aliens!'
  • Red Herring Mole: Before the heroes find out who the real head alien is (it's Marybeth), they go through a number of false guesses, including the principal and the coach.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Zeke (Ezekiel) and Delilah both get their names from Biblical figures.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Several concerning who the villain is.
    • When Marybeth first sees Zeke's drugs, she says "that will probably kill me".
    • Zeke mentions how everyone seems off at school, and Marybeth responds "I'm from the south, y'all are off to me" - possibly trying to downplay any suspicions.
    • Marybeth quite obviously asks Zeke about how he makes his drugs. On the second watch, she's clearly trying to work out how to stop them.
    • You'll notice in the fight with Mr Furlong, Delilah is quite proactive in trying to help Casey. Then you see Marybeth pull her behind the desk, which is clearly when she infects her. Afterwards, Delilah becomes far more passive and starts snarking at Marybeth - when she'd been mostly civil to her before. This Marybeth preserving her cover by generating sympathy for herself. Delilah is also the one just suggesting to leave town.
    • Principal Drake very obviously seems to know that Stan and Stokeley are looking for her at the game, and leaves to confront them on her own. Marybeth knew that's who they were looking for, and programmed Drake to come and play the Red Herring.
  • School for Scheming: It's about a high school in Everytown, America being infiltrated by parasitic aliens who proceed to infect first the faculty, then the student body one at a time. It's up to a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits to stop them.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: Delilah and Casey, although the latter is only a photographer while Delilah is the editor and reporter, and she clearly takes her work as Serious Business, to the point she's willing to break into the teacher lounge just so she can find some dirt on them. She casually mentions she once outed one teacher for being an alcoholic.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Stan's teachers curve his grades because he's the captain of the football team. Unlike most examples, he's fairly dismayed by this, enough so that he quits the team.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Upon seeing Miss Burke's severed head sprout tentacles to crawl back to her headless body (already back on its feet), all Zeke can say is "All right, fuck this I'm outta here."
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: After the Hive Queen reveals her true form and jumps into the pool, all her clothes are shredded, and when she exits it, she back to her human form and there's a distant shot of her climbing out of the pool in the nude.
  • Setting Update: Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing (1982) in High School!
  • The Shadow Knows: Around the end of the film, the Hive Queen tries to appeal to Casey, using the Marybeth disguise she's been using for the whole film. The shadow in the room, however, is a tentacled mass that keeps moving and nearly covers it, all coming from an average-sized teenager.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: When the alien Hive Queen use her Voluntary Shapeshifting to reverts back to its human form, after momentarily revealing its true form, her clothes are nowhere to be seen and she spends the remainder of her screen time in human form in the nude.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity:
    • During Stan's Shower Scene in the locker room, the camera stays above his waist the entire time.
    • During the Hive Queen's Full-Frontal Assault in the climax, most frontal camera angles of her only show her from the shoulders up. The few that do not have Censor Shadow placed on her chest.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Principal Drake gets her name from the Drake Equation, which is used to estimate how much intelligent life there is in the universe.
    • Several movies and books about aliens get name-dropped by the characters, including E.T., Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Puppet Masters and Independence Day.
    • The drug test is similar to the blood test in The Thing (1982). One of the people taking it even gets exposed as an alien.
    • Much like in The Breakfast Club Stan (Andy's counterpart) and Stokely (Allison's counterpart) end up as a couple at the end of the film. Subverted with Deliliah. Instead of ending up with Zeke (I.E. Claire and Bender) She ends up with Casey (Brian) Zeke actually appears to have ended up with the not quite as Shrinking Violet as before Miss Burke.
  • Shrinking Violet: Both Stokely and (pre-infection) Miss Burke.
  • Single-Biome Planet: The head alien is from a planet covered entirely with water. This is the reason why people infected with the alien parasite need to drink lots of water—the thing needs a lot of it, and it dehydrates people rather quickly.
  • Sinister Nudity: The first pod person and originator Marybeth is completely naked when she switches between her alien form and human form, and she stays naked for the rest of the scene when she's trying to convince the characters to join her.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Stokely pretends to be a lesbian in order to prevent guys from hitting on her.
  • Starfish Aliens: The alien species threatening to take over the town are very bizarre monstrosities, with the Hive Queen in particular being a mix of Octopoid Aliens and Tentacled Terror.
  • Stealth Insult: The film uses one of these for a Genius Bonus. The theater teacher Mrs. Olsen wanted to put on a production of Guys and Dolls, but Principal Drake, having earmarked most of the school's extra money for the football team (because the football-obsessed PTA and school board would accept nothing less), recommends recycling the sets from Our Town instead. Any theater geek would know that Our Town doesn't use any sets — which means that, in other words, Drake just told Mrs. Olsen to fuck off. (Drake is played by Bebe Neuwirth, a Broadway star who definitely would've gotten the joke.)
  • Sucky School:
    • There is a scene early on that takes place at a faculty meeting, where they are deciding how to divide the school's budget. Much to the teachers' chagrin, money that could be used for buying new textbooks or putting on a School Play other than Our Townnote  is instead directed towards the football team because, as Principal Drake explains, they live in a football town. She doesn't think the football team deserves all the attention and funding, but it's what the parents want.
    • Also, take a look at the map of Europe in the history classroom. Despite the film being set in 1998, the map still shows a united Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, implying that it's at least ten years old — and judging by the condition it's in, probably older.
    • Several of the door frames look like they could use, at a minimum, a new coat of paint.
    • Most of the staff is pretty dispirited and apathetic even before the aliens show up.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: The opening kill, Principal Drake. She manages to flee from Coach, locks the door...then gets stabbed.
  • Take That!: Stokley specifically points out that Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a blatant ripoff of The Puppet Masters.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: The film contains this line: "We discovered a new phylum in biology class today; maybe even a new species." This makes no sense, because something in a new phylum would have to be in a new species. Probably the actor accidentally switched "species" and "phylum" around from the scripted line, and nobody caught the mistake.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: The infected Miss Burke hides in the back of Zeke's car, then attempts to seduce him when he's speeding away from the infected football team. Zeke then slams the car into a school bus, sending her through the windshield and decapitating her. She gets better. The final scenes imply that they Hooked Up Afterwards. (This is made less squicky than it might have been, because it's implied there's not actually much of an age difference; she's a young teacher and he's repeating his senior year).
  • This Is the Part Where...: After the group's harrowing first encounter with an alien, we get this gem:
    Stokely: This is usually the part where somebody says "Let's get the fuck out of here"
    Stan: Let's get the fuck out of here.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Delilah lightens up and becomes more amiable to her buddies by the end. Seems like getting called out for her snobbish behaviour started this change of heart.
  • Toplessness from the Back: During the Hive Queen Full-Frontal Assault in the locker room, several shots only show her nude body from the back. When she's seen from the front Censor Shadow or Shoulders-Up Nudity angles are used instead.
  • Town Girls: The three female protagonists. Snarky goth Stokeley is the butch, Alpha Bitch Delilah is the femme, and Country Mouse Marybeth is the neither.
  • Tuck and Cover: Essentially, though the positioning is unusual. Twice in the fight with Mr. Furlong, Stan catches more fragile characters who've been thrown or shoved (Casey and Stokely) and takes the impact of what they would have hit himself.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl: Marybeth turns out to be the Hive Queen of the aliens. Her shapeshifting is very unsettling as a result. Also, beforehand, she has no idea of how human society functions.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The motivation of Marybeth, the Hive Queen of the parasitic alien species who just wants Earth's water supply for her species for all of them to survive.
  • Villain Has a Point: Marybeth tells Casey that she can make everyone part of something greater when in fact the aliens actually have been making things seemingly better. All the students and teachers get along much better after infection. Even the fighting teen couple in the school get along better after they're infected.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: During the climax, Marybeth switches between human and alien forms at will.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The alien invaders are extremely dependent on water, making Zeke dehydrating homemade drug that is composed mostly of caffeine to be extremely deadly to them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not confirmed if Principal Drake and Mr. Furlong are actually dead. Both were seemingly killed off during the attacks. But infected Miss Burke was decapitated and turns up alive at the end, and Mr. Furlong is shown during the credits, teaching with an eyepatch and bandaged hand. Principal Drake is alive and well later in the movie, specifically at the 33 minute mark, but getting dissolved into mush on the other hand....
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The entire film is one to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Puppet Masters, with Shout Outs aplenty. (Incidentally, Donald Sutherland stars in both movie adaptations.)
  • Working with the Ex: Delilah and Stan break up early in the film, but Delilah almost immediately turns to Stan for help, and they have surprisingly little drama. The only point of conflict is when Delilah gets a bit bitchy about Stokely’s interest in Stan in an effort to turn the group against each other after she is infected, but it’s mixed in with equally harsh observations about everyone else in the group.
  • Write What You Know: invoked Casey references this trope when trying to explain to Stokely why he believes that Invasion of the Body Snatchers was Based on a True Story.
  • You Need to Get Laid: When Ms. Burke goes to admonish Zeke for his illegal business, one of his "offers" to make her go away is a condom, and is clear he has this implication in mind. She acts very hurt by it and walks away quietly.