When you think of The Ramones, you don’t necessary think of them as movie stars or starring in a musical heavily influenced by their music, but you’d be thinking wrong! Though high school musicals are not very “punk rock,” the late 70s spawned a little movie called Rock ‘N’ Roll High School starring the punk legends, which has become a cult classic among movie and music lovers everywhere.
I’d seen this movie before but I guess I never really paid attention who was starring in it (besides the band of course). When I re-watched it again, I noticed that the lead role of Riff Randell was played by none other than scream queen, P.J. Soles! You may remember her from Halloween and Carrie. Randell is a rebel at Vince Lombardi High School who’s only goal in life is to write songs for The Ramones. Unfortunately, the school has just been taken over by a new principal named Miss Evelyn Togar (Mary Woronov ) who is nothing short of a tyrant and wants to whip the school into shape. Her first order of business? Remove all Rock and Roll.
Riff’s sidekick is science nerd and goodie two shoes Kate Rambeau (Dey Young) . Even though they’re total opposites, they’re the perfect match. They hijack the PA system before school one day to play some music (Sheena is a punk rocker to be exact), but Miss. Togar shuts down the party. She gives them both detention, but that doesn’t stop the music for Riff who is always seen carrying about a cassette player playing her favorite band. She even fools her gym teacher into thinking its a hearing aid (which is pretty clever in my opinion).
Kate also has a passion for something (or should I say someone): Tom Roberts (Vincent Van Patten) the quarterback for the football team. Tom is not too suave with the ladies (which seems odd when you think of the stereotypical football player) and can’t seem to talk about anything but the weather. He also has a crush on someone but it’s not Kate… it’s Riff.
If a love triangle and a psycho principal aren’t exciting or entertaining enough for you, then surely The Ramones performing multiple times throughout the movie will fill that void for you. My favorite performance from them in the movie would have to be in Riff Randall’s room when they sing “I want you around.” Nothing like smoking a joint and being serenaded by Joey Ramone, right?
If Grease is for the jocks and cheerleaders, then Rock and Roll High School is for the punk rockers. This is an unconventional musical that has everything a teen rocker would need; rebellion, music and romance. Will Kate ever get her man or will he end up with Riff? Does Ms. Togar succeed in removing rock music from the school and taming the unruly students that drove the first principal away or will rock and roll prevail? You’ll have to watch and see. If Grease is a little too cookie cutter for you, you will enjoy Rock ‘N’ Roll High School.
Written by: Katie Sperduti