Let me preface this by stating a few facts about myself: I was a big '90s kid. As such, there were certain movies of the decade that I am more than familiar with. On the other hand, there were other movies that I was absolutely not allowed to see -- either because I wasn’t old enough to get into a theater to see something rated PG-13 and above, or because the content was a little too mature for an impressionable young person such as myself.
Teen horror flicks aren’t a new genre, but they’re films I’ve acquired a new appreciation for now that I’m older and wiser (and knowledgeable enough to appreciate them in all their ridiculousness). More often than not, they’re the movies I keep coming back to over and over again -- comforting in their predictability, reassuring in their constancy. The Faculty, however, has never been one of them.
Released in 1998 (on Christmas Day, no less), this movie features many recognizable It names of the teen horror oeuvre. Josh Hartnett. Elijah Wood. Jordana Brewster. USHER. I know absolutely nothing about it, so obviously that meant I had to sit down and watch it -- all while writing down my every thought.
1. This movie starts off with an Offspring song, so that’s how you know it’s the late '90s.
2. Kevin Williamson wrote the script, so I’m already anticipating a lot of quippy dialogue.
3. The high school football coach is played by none other than the T-1000 himself, Robert Patrick, and his treatment of these kids is borderline abusive (at one point he refers to them as “blowdicks,” and I’m not even really sure what that means).
4. On the other hand, the logo on the hat he’s wearing kind of looks like the Hogwarts logo. Can I get an extra hat for myself without the raging anger issues?
5. Bebe Neuwirth is the school principal, and over the course of a faculty meeting we learn that, first and foremost, this is a football town. And I’m guessing it’s not like the kind in Dillon, Texas, with Kyle Chandler. Instant downgrade.
6. Also, we learn that the school’s budget is tight, so there won’t be a musical this year, which is honestly the biggest tragedy of the movie so far for drama teacher Piper Laurie -- aka Carrie’s mom from Carrie. (They just want to do “Guys and Dolls” and they’re all gonna laugh at you!)
7. “Harassment has a really fine line, Coach” is a line that Principal Bebe Neuwirth delivers right before creepy Coach Robert Patrick stabs her through the hand with a pencil. Timely, yes?
8. Rather than chase the principal, Coach Robert Patrick decides to get onto the office loudspeaker and taunt her while she runs through the school encountering locked door after locked door. Didn’t they just have a faculty meeting here? Why is no one around all of a sudden?
9. The coach charges the principal while blowing his whistle in a move that is supposed to be menacing but only comes off as hilarious.
10. OH. I’m starting to understand what the title of this movie means.
11. Based on the way Josh Hartnett just sped into the school parking lot, I’m gonna say he’s the rebellious student with a heart of gold. The bad boy you can’t help but want to be good. Too bad about his haircut, though.
12. The movie proceeds to introduce what I presume is the main cast of characters by freeze-frame and title card. Elijah Wood is a nerdy photographer, Clea DuVall is the punky girl with an exclusively Hot Topic wardrobe, Jordana Brewster is the goody-two-shoes cheerleader who happens to run the school newspaper, and Shawn Hatosy is the dumb jock.
13. Apparently one of the pranks at this school involves the football team picking up the closest nerd in sight and ramming his junk into the flagpole. What?
14. There are a lot of random and overly aggressive fights breaking out all over campus, and I’m thinking they’re connected to why the teachers are acting so homicidal. Or Mondays gotta Monday.
15. The other teachers here range from completely unidentifiable actors to, uh, some pretty big names. Jon Stewart is in this?! Famke Janssen? SALMA HAYEK? I don’t know if I buy some of these folks actually being educators.
16. Salma is the school nurse. She also has a cold. Shouldn’t she be calling out sick? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of a school nurse if she’s sneezing and coughing on everyone?
17. Jordana Brewster is a highly motivated woman who has no time for her football-slinging BF and yet is somehow wildly superficial because she insists that as head cheerleader she has to date the star quarterback and NOT a nerdy brain.
18. “I’ve been weighing the importance of being a jock with my impending future.” You’re right, Shawn Hatosy. The two are not compatible. But props to him for trying to better himself.
19. Clea DuVall clearly has a crush on the new girl named Marybeth, who wears ankle-length skirts and speaks with a vague Southernish accent -- especially if the looks she’s shooting her during class are any indication. I could maybe ship this.
20. Actually, Stokely is sort of the proto-Janis Ian in this movie, right down to Jordana Brewster walking up and making gross homophobic comments at her like a big ol’ Regina George. Ah, the '90s.
21. This movie wants to remind you how much of a nerd Elijah Wood is because he’s drinking a wittle juice box at lunch. Not even a Capri Sun.
22. Elijah Wood finds a weird-looking organism on the football field and takes it to Jon Stewart, the science teacher. Said organism resembles a slug with weird fibers, and at one point it bites the tip of Jon Stewart’s finger to indicate there’s gonna be a lot of gross stuff ahead. Probably with these slugs going into somebody’s ear. That’s right: I said slugs. ‘Cause these suckers can duplicate themselves once in water.
23. Coach Robert Patrick stands out in the middle of the football field among a bevy of sprinklers and again is meant to be ominous. I only cackled.
24. Josh Hartnett sells illegal copies of movies out of the trunk of his car and one of them is Party of Prettiness, a fake movie starring Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt. I see what you did there, Williamson.
25. This movie is also clearly trying to sell some weird sexual tension between Josh Hartnett and Famke Janssen (who, if I haven’t mentioned before, is a teacher). Ick. Super inappropriate and ick.
26. “You’re that geeky Stephen King kid. There’s one of you in every school.” First of all: Stephen King kids are creepy, not geeky. Second of all: Elijah Wood literally looks like a baby next to every other student actor in this, and that’s the weirdest part of all.
27. YEP. I KNEW IT. I KNEW THERE WERE GOING TO BE SLUGS IN EARS. HOLY CRAP.
28. Bebe Neuwirth is serving some amazing smoky eye now that she’s been infected with supernatural ear slugs. Just sayin’.
29. More angsty '90s music, this time courtesy of Creed. I need to see this entire soundtrack listing right now.
30. The biggest sign that everything is weird is that these teachers are guzzling water by the gallon and completely ignoring the coffeemaker.
31. This movie is clearly attempting to pull a late-stage Breakfast Club by getting the weird girl and the jock together. Your mileage may vary.
32. Southern transfer student girl tells Josh Hartnett about her dead parents and his response is, “Mine are still breathing, but for all intents and purposes they're very much dead.” NOT THE SAME THING, DUDE.
33. Famke Janssen is now wearing spaghetti-strap tank tops and making vaguely sexual threats at Josh Hartnett, which I guess is supposed to indicate that she’s also been infected but comes across way differently (and by that I mean super gross) in the year of our Lord 2017. Yeesh.
34. Someone directly references “The Body Snatchers” in one scene and then it devolves into a super-meta conversation about the possibility that some of science fiction's greatest creators are actual aliens. I’d buy that theory when it comes to George Lucas. Something has to explain him.
35. I’m calling it now: Each member of the popular couple is going to wind up with a respective social outcast by the end of this movie.
36. Oh no, Jon Stewart, NOT YOU.
37. FINGER SLUGS FINGER SLUGS. I picked a really bad time to start eating lunch.
38. They found a way to defeat the gross aliens and it’s Josh Hartnett’s homemade version of drugs. I can’t remember the name of it so I’m just going to call it “jingle-jangle.”
39. Aww, man, they got Usher too?
40. Somehow things escalated from only the high school faculty being infected to LITERALLY the entire town in a matter of days.
41. Josh Hartnett has a working drug lab out of his garage because OF COURSE HE DOES.
42. The secret ingredient in jingle-jangle is caffeine pills. You heard it here first.
43. Josh Hartnett deliberately infects his pet rat with the parasite and then kills him to perform a dissection, and I’m more upset about this than anything else that’s happened in the movie thus far. Pour one out for Oscar the rat.
44. “Casey, when did you become Sigourney Weaver?” is a question Jordana Brewster poses to Elijah Wood, and I laugh out loud because this kid couldn’t resemble Ellen Ripley any less.
45. Josh Hartnett suggests the group each take a hit of jingle-jangle in case any of them are actually aliens. It involves snorting white powder out of a clear stick pen and looks as ridiculous as it sounds.
46. Of course, the aliens aren’t above making a pit stop in their plan for world domination to play a little football. They’re dropping slugs into the other teams’ ears every time they make a tackle.
47. Every time the alien hosts evaporate in this movie it looks like what happens to Ash in Alien. Basically, a lot of spilled milk.
48. Clea DuVall chooses to mack on Shawn Hatosy in case something happens to them but he’s really just the Ann of this movie. HIM?
49. There’s always a lot of ominous thunderstorms at times like this. Also now Josh Hartnett has graduated to calling his homemade blow “scat,” which is just an unfortunate choice all around. Why man?
50. Elijah Wood is remarkably spry for supposedly being an anti-sports nerd, which is how I know he’ll survive this thing.
51. Famke Janssen’s version of being infected with alien slugs is to have a snake-like tongue for some reason. Because she’s the hot alien, right? She also somehow survives being thrown through a windshield, a fiery explosion, and getting decapitated because OF COURSE SHE DOES.
52. I was sincerely not expecting the Southern belle transfer student to be the alien queen, but it’s also delightfully hilarious. She doesn’t even have an alien living inside her. She can just morph back and forth between a huge tentacle monster and a blonde girl. It’s INSANE.
53. What literally gives Alien Queen Marybeth away to Josh Hartnett is the fact that she forgets to put clothes back on. Nothing like boobs in the fourth act to wake you up.
54. With Josh Hartnett knocked out it’s up to Elijah Wood to save the day. Can he do it? Spoiler alert: He does, but not before Alien Queen Marybeth makes this whole long speech about how what all disaffected teenagers really want is to conform to the system via a whole bunch of slugs in their ears. Or something.
55. One month later and everything seems to be back to normal. Zeke’s a football player now and Famke Janssen is still creeping after him. Also, everyone is making out the way they do at the end of one of these movies, and I actually ship none of these new couples. This is a new feeling for me and I’m not proud of it.
56. Oh hey, Robert Rodriguez directed this? That’s something, I suppose.
57. And to think the weirdest thing wasn’t even the old naked teacher charging Shawn Hatosy in the school locker room.