Archive for September 15th, 2010

Panic High School (1978)

After a boy commits suicide because of falling grades and a harsh Maths teacher refuses to let a discussion about the incident take place and displays a lack of sensitivity, a disgruntled male pupil runs away from school, steals a rifle with plenty of ammo and goes back to school to kill the teacher at point blank range. Injuring a female classmate and with the police called, he tries to sneak away from the premises but finds the exits and his escape routes blocked. After a chase through school buildings, he is finally cornered in a room where he takes some classmates hostage. With his behavior becoming more erratic, can the tense stand off between himself and the police come to a peaceful solution or will the Special Armed Police Response Unit have to take him out?

A gripping school drama about the failings of the Japanese high school system and it’s effects on pupils. The system places high importance on pupils gaining a university place. They are relentlessly drilled that if they don’t cram up and get into university their future is bleak. The fear by the pupils in failing drives some to kill themselves. Every year there are many suicides in young pupils because of the pressure and still the Education Ministry never learn. The storyline has some foreshadowing of the terrible shootings in Columbine, Ohio that would take place in the US 20 years later. For his directorial debut, Sogo Ishii created a cult gem that’s well worth checking out.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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