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Monday Morning (Special Edition)
Written, produced and directed by Don Murphy and released in 1991, Monday Morning stars Noah Blake as Bobby Parker. High school age, Bobby has grown up poor and spent most of his life living in rougher, tougher neighborhoods. His home life with father, Frank (Paul Henry Itkin) and mother, Marion (Annie O'Donnell), isn't great on the best of days. He winds up as the new kid at Oceana High School and, along with fellow newbie, Bill (Karl Widergott), has immediate trouble fitting in with the rest of the student populace.
James Hedges (Brandon Hooper) is the big man on campus and he and his crew, primarily Chip (Jason Lively) and Mark (Brian Cole), don't take kindly to Bobby and Bill's presence in the school. It upsets the order of things and it's clear that James wants to remain on top. It's also clear that the pair isn't going to get along with James. When Bobby starts dating James' sister, Noreen Hedges (Julianne McNamara), James gets instantly irate. Making matters worse, Bobby winds up in a car accident that leaves James' sister, Ginny (Shannon Absher), injured. James and his pals decide to bring a gun to school to scare Bobby with, but one thing leads to another and a teacher winds up shot, with Bobby taking the blame for the accident caused by an altercation that James started.
Bobby panics, grabs the gun and basically proceeds to hold those around him hostage, hoping to be able to figure out a way to prove he's innocent before the cops, led by Chief Woods (Fitz Houston), who just so happens to be the father of one of the hostages, move in and take him out.
Through no fault of its own, Monday Morning, also known as Class Of Fear, is, in its second half, fairly uncomfortable viewing simply because of the rash of school shootings that has occurred in America over the last few years (this review having been written less than two months after the horrible events that took place in Uvalde, Texas earlier in 2022). In a different time and a different place this reasonably apolitical film would have been a really enjoyable B-movie, a fairly tense thriller at times but one filled with some amazing overacting and scenery chewing on the part of its leads, Noah Blake and Brandon Hooper, the later really being one of those villains that you love to hate. If you're able to distance yourself from current events and turn off your brain, you'll probably still be able to get some enjoyment out of the picture if you're into goofy, low budget, direct to video thrillers, because this does work on that level, but personally, I had trouble doing that.
Moving along, aside from Blake and Hooper tearing things up (they are legitimately entertaining to watch here), Fitz Houston also delivers the goods as the main cop, the kind who clearly wants to shoot first and ask questions later. His character is a cliché to be sure, in fact most of the characters here are, but he's entertaining in his role.
The story never feels all that original but it is paced reasonably well. It's obvious that this wasn't made on a massive budget but the production values are okay, if never amazing. The film never explores the relationships between its different characters with as much depth as it should have but it has its moments and, again, if you can turn off your brain and ignore the real world, will offer some moderately entertaining thrills.
The MVD Rewind Collection brings Monday Morning to region free Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. For the most part this looks good, but there is a really strange issue where a horizontal band appears across the image very briefly showing frames from earlier in the film. It doesn't last very long but it happens and it's… odd. Probably some sort of digital authoring issue. Aside from that, the image looks good. There's some minor print damage here and there but colors look nice and we get good black levels as well as solid detail and depth. There aren't any problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement issue. That odd digital band, however, is a head scratcher.
The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit English language LPCM 2.0 Mono track. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only. Range is limited by the source material but it sounds just fine. The track is nicely balanced and everything comes through cleanly and clearly without any hiss or distortion.
Extras start off with the original VHS version with its alternate Class Of Fear opening credits sequence. This version runs one hundred and five minutes and is presented in standard definition framed at 1.33.1 and with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio. It's unlikely this will be anyone's ‘go to' version of the movie but it's a fun nostalgic look back at how the movie would have looked had you rented it off the video store shelves in the 1990s.
The disc also includes a new fifty-three minute interview with writer and director Don Murphy. He talks about his background and his training, going to film school, meeting the right people, working his way up the ladder and finding a niche for himself in the Hollywood machine. From there, he goes over the making of Monday Morning, detailing how the script came to be, the movie's unique visual style, working with the cast and crew members and quite a bit more. He's got a good memory and has a lot to say about the making of the movie.
MVD also includes the twenty-four-minute Don Murphy: Portrait Of A Producer featurette that originally appeared on their Double Dragon Blu-ray release. As you'd guess from the title, covers Don Murphy's work as a producer in the film industry, starting with how he got into the business fresh out of film school. He's had a hand in some interesting projects over the years, not just Double Dragon but bigger films like Natural Born Killers, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the Transformers franchise. It's interesting that Double Dragon did serve as a launching pad of sorts for him and as this plays out we learn how he got into the business and how he became so successful in it.
As to the packaging, MVD Rewind offers up some nice reversible cover sleeve artwork (with alternate Class Of Fear title and artwork on the reverse side, a collectible mini-poster and a slipcover.
If you can remove yourself from real world events, Monday Morning offers a fair bit of entertainment value thanks to a few scenes of decent tension but mostly due to the scenery chewing delivered by its two leads. The one odd digital anomaly noted in the review aside, the presentation is pretty solid and the two featurettes add some value. Worth seeing if you're in the right mood for it, but not essential. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.