I hadn’t seen Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty since it came out at the cinema, back in 1998… but it was on TV this week, so I thought I’d give it a look, for old time’s sake. Nostalgia aside, I think it’s held up remarkably well… an amusing and solidly-crafted sci-fi/horror flick, with a fun premise that crossbreeds The Breakfast Club with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and mixes teen-angst alienation with actual aliens! And it’s interesting to watch it a second-time around (even after such a long delay), already knowing who’s who – or rather, who’s what – so you can keep an eye out for all the foreshadowing!
By design, the characters are a bit cliché (and Kevin Williamson’s script is typically self-reflexive about it), but the incredibly talented cast bring a lot of personality and charm to the well-worn archetypes: First up is Bebe Neuwirth as the unfortunate school’s Principal, ‘Valerie Drake’, who transforms from a weary workaholic to a foxy femme fatale, after being taken over by an icky alien parasite. Then there’s Piper Laurie as ‘Mrs. Olsen’, the vindictive drama teacher who infects her… Salma Hayek as the school’s sniffly nurse, ‘Rosa Harper’… and Famke Janssen as a meek, geeky English teacher, ‘Miss Elizabeth Burke’, who also undergoes an eye-catching transformation when she falls under alien control. Meanwhile, male staff members include Robert Patrick, Daniel von Bargen, and a pre-Daily Show Jon Stewart!
On the student-y side of things, Jordana Brewster plays bitchy “Queen Bee” ‘Delilah Profitt’… Clea DuVall plays goth-y faux-lesbian ‘Stokely Mitchell’… and Laura Harris plays sweet-but-snarky new girl ‘Marybeth Louise Hutchinson’… palling around with Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett. Fun fact: Their Sin City co-star Jessica Alba also auditioned for the role of Delilah, but got knocked back… though her meeting with R-Rod would eventually pay-off, when he cast her as ‘Nancy’ in his later movie.
Salacious observation: Another of R-Rod’s sisters, Christina “Tina” Rodriguez, has a brief cameo here as a tattooed girl who gives Marybeth some apathetic directions to the school office. I didn’t realise until now how many gorgeous siblings that guy had! Then again, he’s quite good-looking himself, so it’s clearly a family trait. They sure make ‘em cute in Texas!
Slighty SPOILER-y complaint: I was very disappointed to see that Stokely dropped the Gothery once she started dating the ex-jock guy… in the final scene they were wearing matching violet-coloured clothes, and it made my heart sad.