The Bad Class: Class of 1984, Bad Boys, The Outsiders, Repo  Man, and Other Gems of ’80s Trash Cinema (hardback)
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The Bad Class: Class of 1984, Bad Boys, The Outsiders, Repo Man, and Other Gems of ’80s Trash Cinema (hardback)

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The Bad Class: Class of 1984, Bad Boys, The Outsiders, Repo Man, and Other Gems of ’80s Trash Cinema

by Ben Beard


112 pages

6x9 size

ISBN 9798887712895


"Beard writes to impress and succeeds in spades. His pounding, persuasive prose treats readers with respect, blasting out cinematic and socio-political references by the fistful, trusting you to either keep up or keep a notepad nearby. The quartet of films discussed at length herein aren't whining for unconditional love; like the neglected children that populate them, they demand—sometimes violently—our attention. Viewed through the personal lens of an intelligent, articulate, and passionate fan, we absorb their impact on an entire generational stripe who were at once shaped and reflected by them.”

—Aaron Christensen, HORROR 101 with Dr. AC


In 1980, the U.S. elected an actor to the White House; Hollywood icon Ronald Reagan landed the world's leading role. While most of America celebrated, a white-hot rage simmered just out of sight.

In 1982, a B-movie named Class of 1984 appeared in theaters. A vicious reworking of Blackboard Jungle, here was a film for the new America: a punishing wasteland of burnouts and punks, of rampaging youth and swift violence, where greed was rewarded and virtue disdained.

Next came Bad Boys, The Outsiders, and Repo Man. As each attempted to diagnose this endemic of disaffected, angry young men, the subtext was clear: America had failed its youth. Children were paying the price for every adult sin.

Ben Beard, author of The South Never Plays Itself, grew up on these films. He returns to them now, revealing common threads and hidden patterns. With insight, empathy, and humor, Beard analyzes how these disparate works have come together to form a lattice, a warning, a clarion call, and a potential salve for the still-tender wounds of youth. 

Equal parts memoir, cultural history, and cinematic excavation, as well as a pop-culture odyssey into early 1980s Americana—a land of guns, gangs, drugs, and the occult—The Bad Class attempts to understand the present by returning to the past, by probing this raw sliver of cinephilia, when a different plague was raging, the culture was sick, and the best films were trash.