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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
  • 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.
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  • And Some Other Stuff: Zeke's drugs are made from a mixture of "caffeine pills and some other household shit."
  • Assimilation Plot
  • 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...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 /Big Bad Friend: Marybeth, who is revealed to be the alien hive queen in human form.
  • Body Horror: The parasite dehydrates the old Mrs. Brummel to the point where her skin falls off of her body.
    • Also, 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 been infected.
  • Breakfast Club: The six main characters.
  • Break Them by Talking: Used multiple times by the pod people against the heroes, but the big one is delivered by Marybeth. 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 Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles, of all people. He appears as one of the teachers in the faculty lounge.
  • 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.
  • Combat Tentacles: The head alien has these.
  • Cool Car: Zeke drives a Pontiac GTO.
  • Covers Always Lie: Despite that Zeke is front and center on the cover, Casey, behind him, is the protagonist.
  • Creepy Gym Coach: Subverted with Coach Willis, the first member of the faculty to be infected with the Puppeteer Parasites. He approaches the female principal in her office late at night, commenting on how "pretty" she looks in what's set up to look like a drunken rape attempt. It becomes obvious that he has very different plans when he stabs her through the hand with a pencil.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Not only do Casey's parents take away his phone, internet and music as punishment, but they also confiscate his porn. Casey's father tells him "No more flogging the bishop."
  • Dumb Muscle: Stan, much to his dismay. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil Teacher: The teachers are the first people to get infected, and spread it from there.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: In the finale Casey now has product in his hair, which symbolises his Character Development.
  • Eye Scream: Mr. Furlong gets stabbed in the eye by Zeke with one of his drug pens.
    • Casey also kills the queen alien 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:
    "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.
    • Finally, on a meta level, each of the film's protagonists has an obvious counterpart from The Breakfast Club. Stan's counterpart is Andy, Delilah's is Claire, Casey's is Brian, Zeke's is Bender, and Stokely's is Allison... but where does Marybeth fit in? That's right. She doesn't.
    • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble
    • Stan is sanguine.
    • Delilah is choleric.
    • Casey and Stokely are melancholic.
    • Zeke is phlegmatic.
    • Marybeth is supine until she reveals herself to be the queen alien.
  • 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. The school Butt-Monkey Casey ends up with the Alpha Bitch Delilah. Gender Flipping things, moody goth Stokeley ends up with football player Stan.
  • 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.
  • Goth: Stokely, although by the end, she's turned into a Perky Goth.
  • 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
  • Held Back in School: Zeke.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Elijah Wood as the nerdy kid Casey.
  • Homage: The entire film is an homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Puppet Masters, with Shout Outs aplenty.
  • 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.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: Using Zeke's drugs.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lens Flare Censor: In reverse. The darkness is used to cover up Marybeth's naughty bits. It doesn't work so well on the DVD, though.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Delilah is given a Freudian Excuse (dead father, alcoholic mother) and seems to have mellowed out by the climax.
  • Lovable Jock: Stan, especially when compared to the more jerkish football players.
  • Magic Pants: Averted. When the lead alien reverts back to its human form, after momentarily revealing its true form, its clothes are nowhere to be seen.
  • 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 Alien Queen.
  • 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.
  • Off With Her Head: Miss Burke. She gets better, though.
  • Orifice Invasion: Of the ear variety.
  • Police Are Useless: Justified as they are infected.
  • Porn Stash: One of the punishments Casey gets from his parents for embarrassing them is to remove his pile of dirty magazines.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    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 Quarterback: Stan is the star player and fond friend to the school, having some troubles with his cheerleader girlfriend when he chooses to quit the team in order to get better grades. Coach supports him in this choice, even if it is right before the big match.
  • "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 INSPACE / Setting Update: Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing (1982) in High School!
  • 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.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: Delilah and Casey, although the latter is only a photographer.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 by the end.
  • 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
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The motivation of Marybeth, the queen of the parasitic alien species.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. Principle Drake is alive and well later in the movie, specifically at the 33 minute mark, but getting dissolved into mush on the other hand....
  • 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.


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