"Panic High School" was one of the first projects of the legendary (at least, to some people) Japanese punk-director Sogo Ishii. He was only 19 years old when he shot this film on 8mm and largely just relied on the goodwill of friends and volunteers to act in front of the camera. And even though the production values and editing are poor & cheap, it's already easy to see how his work would quickly become a great source of inspiration and influence to some of Japan's greatest nowadays genre directors, like Shinya Tsukamoto ("Tetsuo") and even Takashi Miike ("Itchi The Killer"). The basic premise of "Panic High School" is disturbingly up-to-date, as it revolves on the violent killing spree of a teenager at his high-school. Just today, there were depressing news reports about a student at the university of Virginia who went berserk and literally executed more than 30 people! "Panic in High School" is approximately 30 years old, but it terrifically captures the nightmarish atmosphere of fear and despair that unquestionably overrules everything is disastrous situations like this. The teenager kills a teacher with a shotgun, takes several girls hostage and then entrenches himself in a secluded classroom where the police slowly closes up on him. Particularly the final sequence, in which the student disorderedly shouts he has exams the next day, are strangely unsettling. At the time, Sogo Ishii probably just wanted to make an anarchist punk-film to upset his teachers at the academy, but he didn't yet realize his idea would result in a timeless and important cult gem.
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