A in-spirit-sequel to Lester’s own CLASS OF 1984 (1982), the follow-up took the idea of out of control teens to its futuristic extreme, resulting in a film the Lester described as “WESTWORLD (1973) meets BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955).” The man hired to write it was C. Courtney Joyner, who had already built a sterling genre resume with Jeff Burr’s THE OFFSPRING (1987) and Renny Harlin’s PRISON (1987). As is often the case in Hollywood, a series of other writers including Abby Wool and splatterpunk writing team John Skipp & Craig Spector worked on it. As Joyner told Fangoria, “Mark had me do the final draft. So I was rewriting Abby’s rewrite of my rewrite of Skipp & Spector’s rewrite of my script. That’s Hollywood.” In the end Joyner retains sole screen credit. The project was officially announced at the American Film Market in February 1988 and was one of Veston’s bigger productions during this period with a budget of $5 million under their newly formed Lightning Pictures banner.
Where CLASS OF 1999 really took off was on the home video market, which is where I first got to see it. The film proved popular enough that Cinetel felt the need to make CLASS OF 1999 II: THE SUBSTITUTE (1994). Unfortunately, even if it is directed by veteran stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos, this sequel is a crushing disappointment when compared to CLASS OF 1999.