They really don’t make ’em like this anymore. That was one of many thoughts that jumped in my brain while watching Rock N’ Roll High School the other day. Camp doesn’t even begin to describe it. Joyful absurdity. Now that might do it. Whoever had the idea to take a simple B movie, combine it with Airplane-esq comedy theatrics, and center the entire movie around a punk band that had only achieved some semblance of cult status must have been a mad genius. The Ramones may be icons today, but back in 1980, they would have been the last choice to place at the center of a movie. The Jonas Brothers – or whatever third-rate mechanized creations Disney churns out for the center of some made-for-TV movie – they ain’t.
Aside from style and vision, the simple juxtaposition of a small-time punk band that failed to realize their dreams of Billboard big-shots playing the role of a big-shot band was enough to make the film such a phenomenal treat in my mind. It’s hard to remotely think of a band today that could be subsumed into a rock-star elite status for a camp film while they struggle away in the real world. Perhaps the only group that could have pulled it off with style and finesse would have been the Promise Ring. The high-calcium pop of their second and third albums would have fit perfectly into a happiness-is-all-the-rage B-movie; moreso, the Promise Ring’s status as a cult-band and icon for the bubbling emo scene would have been a great juxtaposition in the seat of rock kings at the center of a film – their affable attitude is a great base to work with. Not to mention a certain sense of humor and delight that seems to bubble up in their videos:
If anything, one real world emo event seems to have brought Rock N’ Roll High School to reality. When MTV re-started its Unplugged series, it was simply to make good behind the cult of Dashboard Confessional. Not even a cult-group in terms of the mainstream, Dashboard had barely been a fashionable musical name to know when MTV picked Chris Carrabba to be the new face of their once-famous series. So to give a no-name their own special, one which featured high schoolers flanking him in the wings, literally brought Roger Corman’s film to life. You know, if Rock N’ Roll High School were a bit more melodramatic…
Dashboard Confessional – Living In Your Letters (MTV Unplugged):