When the teachers are as corrupt as the students are disruptive, society is going to wind up with a complex set of problems. Classroom of Terror (暴力教室, Boryoku Kyoshitsu) is, in some ways exactly what it sounds like – delinquents! Sex, drugs, fighting! etc but also subverts these aspects of the bad teen movie by turning the camera right back on the adults who are perpetuating this world of unruly adolescents. An early entry for action star to be Yusaku Matsuda, Classroom of Terror sees him cast in a recognisably manly role though one with a greater degree of nobility.
Mizoguchi is a rookie teacher at an ordinary high school with a falling reputation. Behind his back, the established teachers are virtually taking bets on how long he’s going to last with this “difficult” class that’s giving everyone grief. However, Mizoguchi is a tough, generally cool kind of guy, and he’s able to stand up to this rambunctious group of teenage boys pretty well.
That said, there’s a subset of “bousouzoku” biker gang kids in the school which seems intent on dominating not just the other kids but the entire infrastructure of the academy too. Led by Kitajo, the “Sidewinders” wear identical leather jackets with a snake on the back and all have rockabilly hairstyles which match their Brando-esque The Wild One attitudes. Delinquent doesn’t quite cover their activities and Kitajo in particular is not above seducing the principle’s daughter as part of a blackmail plot or even revenge raping the younger sister of an opponent. However, the kids are not the bad guys here as there’s an even bigger scandal going on in the school’s administration department and the Sidewinders, with Mizoguchi’s help, might be the only way to stop it.
Classroom of Terror mixes a number of genres together and then buckles them onto a typical kids gone wild delinquent movie. In actuality it has more in common with a yakuza crime pic as it turns out Mizoguchi is more or less a stooge brought in by the powers at be to quell rebellion but then realises he’s been working for the “bad guys” and switches sides. The Sidewinders operate more like rival gang, the area’s underdogs who definitely aren’t “good guys” but might be better than the corrupt administration that’s currently in place.
Of course, these guys are just teenagers and this is a school, not the back streets of some shady part of town. Mizoguchi’s class is boys only and extremely disruptive – bombarding a female teacher with paper aeroplanes made out of their test papers, developing a zip wire system to pass each other porn and just generally refusing to conform to any kind of expected behaviour. Kitajo in particular is seen to be rebelling against all kinds of authority thanks to an oppressive home environment controlled by his strict and violent father. When the older generation is shown to be corrupt as in the plot to defraud the school of money at the expense of its pupils, it’s the duty of youth to rebel and their refusal to follow the path that has been set down for them is in no way surprising.
A typical ‘70s exploitation picture, Classroom of Terror displays all the genre’s hallmarks from the swooping handheld camera shots, whip pans and zooms to the funky soundtrack. However, it does also fall into the unpleasantness associated with the lower end of these kinds of films in its use of rape as a plot device which takes on an unsavoury and salacious quality though the scenes themselves are not particularly graphic. Likewise, there is a fair amount of explicit nudity in the first half of the film during the seduction plot of the teenage daughter of the principal which is played for all its worth. Though not as sleazy as other examples of films of this kind, Classroom of Terror has a necessarily male viewpoint which runs close to generalised misogyny.
Perhaps most notable for providing early leading roles for Matsuda and also for Hiroshi Tachi who plays the leader of the Sidewinders and was at that time the lead singer of a popular rock group, The Cools, Classroom of Terror is a fairly typical youth gone wild movie though one which attempts to justify youth rebellion by pointing out the oppressive and hypocritical actions of the older generation. That said, it’s never entirely on youth’s side and the boys are very definitely unpleasant and out of control. Though the use of rape as a tactic is not exactly supported, it isn’t condemned either, rather just accepted as something that happens – but happens to men, largely, who lose face when “their” women are “damaged” by their enemies. Unpleasant yet often exciting in execution, Classroom of Terror is an interesting mix of exploitation genres though one which perhaps leaves a sour taste in the mouth.