On The Faculty

The Faculty is a teen horror flick (like in the same vein of I Know What You Did Last Summer) featuring a large array of actors in several other films, or media: Elijah Wood (Deep Impact, The Lord of The Rings trilogy), Clea DuVall (But I’m a Cheerleader), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day), Famke Janssen (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand), Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji), and Selma Hayek (Wild, Wild West, Dogma). According to the Unreality Magazine article, “The Faculty: The Awful Movie That Launched a Thousand Careers“:

The Faculty is one of those movies that’s just slipped by me for years. I’ve heard of it, I kind of knew what it was about, I’ve just never seen it, and last night I sat down and watched the thing. What I didn’t realize was just how absolutely star-studded the movie is, and I doubt the movie knew it at the time either.

There are so many recognizable faces in this, I almost laughed every time I saw a new one. I was so surprised by the good fortune this film had to assemble a young cast who actual had a future in front of them, I decided it was worth a post showcasing the massive amount of talent that the movie had without really even realizing it.

The movie itself is awful. It’s about a school that gets taken over by a parasitic alien, who can only be killed by pens filled with cocaine. I’m serious. It’s a B-movie for the modern era, but one that is more often than not, just plain retarded.

But man, how about this cast? Read on:

1. Elijah Wood

Every movie needs a wimpy lead to later become strong, and here young Elijah was it. Sure he’d had some major roles before this, but this was before he really started to blow up, and far earlier than his trip to Mordor.

2. Josh Hartnett

The closest thing to a second lead The Faculty has would be Josh Hartnett, who plays a genius drug dealer who breaks all the rules and keeps failing his senior year before he’s bored. He really has an awful haircut in this movie.

3. Robert Patrick

Not exactly a future star per se, but yes, this is the T-1000 liquid Terminator that hunted Arnold and Edward Furlong throughout T2. And yes, you are correct, he is a bad guy here.

4. Jordana Brewster

The hot chick popular lead role goes to a young Jordana Brewster, still very much hot here. She’s not huge these days, but you probably know who she is through the Fast and the Furious series or her various other projects like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel.

5. Shawn Hatosy

You might not know the name, but if you’ve been watching Southland on TNT, you definitely know the face. One of the stars of that show was young Shawn here, who plays the jock turned scholar dating Jordana’s character.

6. Jon Stewart

Now things are getting weirder. The future host of The Daily Show has only had a few roles in movies over the years, and this was one of his strangest. There is a thoroughly excellent scene where he dies by getting stabbed in the eye with a pen full of cocaine. It’s sublime.

7. Salma Hayek

What the? Yes, a not-quite-a-bombshell-yet version of Salma Hayek shows up in the film for a few scenes as the school nurse. You’ll see why her appearance makes sense when I get to the director.

8. Christopher McDonald

Yes, that’s definitely Shooter McGavin, showing up in a brief role as Elijah Wood’s overbearing father who thinks his son is on drugs when he reports his teachers are all aliens.

9. Famke Janssen

The future X-hottie plays a reserved teacher who bickers with Josh Hartnett, but she turns sultry once the alien parasite gets ahold of her.

10. Danny Masterson

The future Hyde from That ’70s Show appears briefly as (what else) a drug user who scores coke from Hartnett’s dealer character.

11. Usher Raymond

Are you impressed yet? Yes, even Ursher himself is in this damn movie, and he’s barely even an actor. He’s just a side note, as a football player friend of one of the main kids, but it’s bizarre to see him nonetheless.

12. And it’s all directed by Robert Rodriguez

Yes, this film was made by the Desperado/Sin City/Machete director whose other work FAR outweighs this crap. Only briefly do you catch any glimpse of his style in this film, and one wonders what prompted him to make this thing in the first place?

There you have it, maybe this is old news, but I found it really damn interesting to see all these faces in one awful film. Makers you wonder which shitty horror movie made today might contain a bunch of stars from a decade from now…

According to The New York Times review:

Like Frankenstein, ”The Faculty” plunders the crypts of cinema for its body parts. Here are the paranoia and parasitism of ”Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” There are the slimy, sharp-toothed creatures of ”Alien.” And over there are the movie-wise teen-agers of ”Scream.”

The list could be extended, but the point is clear: this mediocre sci-fi horror film about an Ohio high school being taken over by thirsty space aliens intent on world domination breaks no new ground. But it has an engaging cast, with half a dozen appealing young actors playing the roles of teen-agers who are all that stand between the Midwestern monsters and the end of the world as certain moviegoers know it.

In one of the film’s wittier passages, the six high school students puzzling out the mysteries of a small new creature found on a football field, a teacher’s corpse in a closet and a sudden outbreak of docility among their normally brutish and dysfunctional schoolmates speculate that paranoid movies of the past may have been part of a plot to soften up the public for the real invasion of the body snatchers.

By contrast, ”The Faculty,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, whose credits include ”El Mariachi” and ”Desperado,” and written by the ubiquitous Kevin Williams of the ”Scream” movies and other adolescent adventures, opens with a clunky, bloody, cheap-thrills sequence that colors what happens afterward with triteness.

So the chief pleasures of the film, such as they are, remain the actors: Jordana Brewster as Delilah, the beauteous, tart-tongued cheerleader captain and editor in chief of the school newspaper; Shawn Hatosky as Stan, her soon-to-be former boyfriend, the quarterback and captain of the Herrington High football team, who is undergoing a pre-midlife crisis and hanging up his pads; Clea DuVall, as Stokely, the unhappy loner and science-fiction aficionado whom Delilah taunts as a lesbian; Laura Harris as Marybeth, the sweet blond Southern belle who is the new girl in school; Josh Hartnett as the cool Zeke, who peddles homemade inhalable substances, condoms and fake ID’s, among other wares, but happens to be a science genius, and Elijah Wood as Casey, the decent little victim of the school bullies, who turns out just fine.

The adults aren’t bad, either: Salma Hayek, all but hidden behind her tissues as the sniffling school nurse; Bebe Neuwirth as Principal Drake; Famke Janssen as a seemingly shy teacher; Piper Laurie as a senior faculty member, and Robert Patrick (the indefatigable villain of ”Terminator 2”) as the volatile Coach Willis.

Herrington High is one of those schools that, as Principal Drake explains at the outset, has no money for new computers, a class trip to New York City or a school musical this year, but can come up with cash for all the new football equipment its team needs.

The locals, she explains, are football people.

And if ”The Faculty” is the only movie they see his year, maybe they can be fooled into believing that it is fresh and frightening.

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4 thoughts on “On The Faculty

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