While in high school did you ever think your teachers were aliens from a different planet? That's the premise behind Robert Rodriguez's 1998 film "The Faculty". Piggybacking off the massive success of the "Scream" movies, teen horror in the late 90s was the hottest thing going. "The Faculty" has a great ensemble cast featuring Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Selma Hayek, Usher, and many others. Also in a bit of strange casting John Stewart in his pre-Daily Show days plays a science teacher named Edward Furlong who played John Connor in "Terminator 2".
We are introduced to the students of
in proper stereotypical form. There is the smart, drug dealing Zeke (Hartnett) who is repeating his senior year. The bullied and tormented Casey (Wood), the tough goth like rebel girl Stokley (Clea Duval), then, of course, the cutesy blonde haired new girl with a sexy southern accent, Mary Beth. Rather than being a terrifying and gory horror film, it is more fun and entertaining blast of nostalgia. Taking hints from movies like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and 50s style monster movies. These movies are also brought up by the characters and follows the formula of "Scream" in being self-referential. Harrington High School
Starting with the insanely intense football coach the entire faculty becomes infected by a shrimp-like creature that goes in through your ear and wraps its tentacles around your brain to control you like a robot. The aliens need a great deal of water to survive and the water cooler becomes a popular hangout in the teachers' lounge.
Casey finds a small pod like thing on the football field and brings it to Mr. Furlong who finds that it Casey and the editor of the school paper Delilah (Jordana Brewster) start to investigate things and then witness the turning of the school nurse Rosa (Hayek). Just think about that for a moment the school nurse is Salma Hayek, needless to say, that office must be constantly overflowing. Anyway, Zeke the cool kid deals this white powder stuff that's made up mostly of caffeine pills that he puts in clear pen tubes. They find out that this powder kills the aliens when they stab Mr. Furlong in the eye when he turns on them. Then the shit starts to get real. The group of students hideout in Zeke's garage where they need to prove they are not aliens by taking a hit off the powder. A scene similar to the one in John Carpenter's The Thing. They figure out that to end this they need to find and kill the lead alien. Eventually one by one they get infected until Casey in one his own and has to save the day.
jumps to life when introduced to water.
"The Faculty" is a very familiar story, but it knows what it is. I saw this way back when it was in theatres and really liked it then and still do. As with all teen movies, it does tend to date itself and loses a little something in the process. So if your feeling nostalgic for the 90s take a look at Robert Rodriguez's "The Faculty". Also look for its bastard stepchild "Disturbing Behavior" in my next review.