The Faculty

USA 1998

Reviewed by Peter Matthews


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Herrington High School, Ohio. After a faculty meeting Principal Drake is attacked by Coach Willis and slashed to death by another faculty member, Mrs Olson. The next morning new student Marybeth tries to befriend Stokely, a moody loner. Class nerd Casey finds a strange organism on the football field, and shows it to the science teacher, Mr Furlong. School-newspaper editor Delilah explores the faculty room with Casey. While hiding in a closet they espy Willis and Mrs Olson implanting an organism in the school nurse, Miss Harper, and find the corpse of another teacher. Casey and Delilah flee, but are stopped in their tracks by a resurrected Drake, to whom they describe what they saw. The police are called, but Miss Harper appears fine while the corpse is gone.

By now, the entire student body is acting strangely - only Casey, Delilah, Stokely, Marybeth, jock Stan and school dope-peddlar Zeke seem themselves. Furlong attacks them but Zeke dispatches him by sticking an ampoule filled with drug powder in his eye. Examining the creature Furlong disgorged in his death throes, Zeke identifies it as an alien parasite that can be killed using his dehydrating caffeine-based compound. Stokely speculates that if the mother alien is killed, everyone will return to normal. Zeke tests the drug on himself and forces the five other kids to take it too: Delilah is exposed as an alien. Soon the other teenagers become aliens, until only Casey and Zeke remain. Marybeth reveals herself to be the mother alien, mutates into a huge gorgon and is finally slain by Casey. Life reverts to normal.


"You're that geeky Stephen King kid. There's one in every school," sneers class bitch Delilah to bullied misfit Casey in director Robert Rodriguez's sci-fi horror-comedy The Faculty. At once you recognise the strange country you're in: it's 90s pastiche-land, where the citizens are all trash archetypes and the most prominent local custom is tireless self-referentiality. The film marks the historic union of Rodriguez (El Mariachi, From Dusk till Dawn) and screenwriter Kevin Williamson (Scream and Scream 2). Perhaps because of the doubling up of such commensurate talents, The Faculty effectively cancels itself out. It isn't the least bit scary or particularly involving, but that seems to be the point.

Back in 1976, when Brian De Palma kicked off the whole metatrash industry with Carrie, the joke was that something synthesised from scraps of old teen exploitation pictures could still be so affecting. The Faculty salutes its great schlock ancestor by casting Carrie's mom Piper Laurie as one of the teacher-aliens (though it's pure synchronicity that the production designer is named Cary White). But the De Palma flick appears the soul of authenticity by comparison. For a radical evolutionary leap has taken place, and the new joke of The Faculty is how easily it can do without the traditional suspension of disbelief.

Inevitably, the script offers ample latitude for Williamson's signature conceit: the characters frequently break off their adventures to engage in learned colloquia on the very genre they inhabit. As in the Scream films, specialist knowledge of movie clichés becomes a survival tactic: here sci-fi nerd Stokely deduces the existence of a queen-bee alien by remembering Alien. Unsurprisingly, the Ur-text is Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Williamson even pilfers one of its key lines of dialogue: "It is so much better. There is no fear or pain." However, Body Snatchers belonged to a world where cultural anxieties found metaphorical expression in pulp. Rodriguez and Williamson have gone beyond all that. Their version of pop cinema cheerfully dispenses with subtext. There's not the faintest pretence that The Faculty is about anything but its own sly nudging and winking at the viewer. You aren't seriously meant to care whether these kids succeed in resolving their varieties of teen angst; you're mainly supposed to twig their parodic resemblance to the gang in The Breakfast Club. And though the climactic monster puts on quite a bravura show, it doesn't generate a soupçon of primal horror. Instead, you sit there chuckling over the effects and ? when the camera ducks underwater for a brief swimming-pool contretemps - the stylistic cribs from Jaws.

Rodriguez's entire technique feels similarly hand-me-down. His gratuitous point-of-view tracking provides an ironic gloss on just about every thriller made in the past 20 years. But if The Faculty has all the poetic resonance of a round of Trivial Pursuit, at least it manages to be genuinely sportive. One advantage of the movie's elaborate gamesmanship is it demands interactive participation; audience and film-makers enter into a gleeful, knowing complicity. Rodriguez and Williamson assume young viewers these days have racked up considerable expertise in the rules of genre, and The Faculty is among other things a nifty meditation on genre mixing. Loosely yoking together creepy crawlies and teen anomie, the film takes as its emblem the cut-and-paste hero Zeke: part nihilist hipster and part brilliant boy-scientist. The script specifies him as a "contradiction", and indeed the character makes no sense until one realises that his whole purpose is to be a witty bricolage.

The Faculty consistently draws attention to its own ill-joined cracks and seams. There's no telling why alien possession acts as an aphrodisiac on the teachers, yet converts the students into stock zombies (though the latter leads to the film's funniest image: a classroom where every hand is raised). And it's equally useless to fret over the hazy rationale by which some characters get a second chance, while others seem polished off for good. For in a vertiginous postmodern enterprise like The Faculty, cleverness and clunkiness turn out to be the same thing.


Elizabeth Avellan
Kevin Williamson
David Wechter
Bruce Kimmel
Director of Photography
Enrique Chediak
Robert Rodriguez
Production Designer
Cary White
Marco Beltrami
©Miramax Film Corp.
Production Companies
Dimension Films presents a Los Hooligans production
Executive Producers
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Line Producer
Bill Scott
Associate Producer
Tamara Smith-Zimmerman
Production Co-ordinator
Cynthia Streit
Unit Production Manager
Bill Scott
Location Manager
Eric A. Williams
Tamara Smith-Zimmerman
Elaine K. Thompson
Assistant Directors
Doug T. Aarniokoski
Brian Steward
Brian O'Kelley
Howard W. Carey
Script Supervisor
Lou Ann Quast
Mary Vernieu
Anne McCarthy
Freddy Luis
Jo Edna Boldin
Camera Operator
Robert Rodriguez
Steadicam Operator
David McGill
Visual Effects Supervisor
Brian M. Jennings
Visual Effects Co-ordinator
Matt Hullum
Digital Visual Effects
Hybride Technologies
Digital Effects Supervisor:
Daniel Leduc
Digital Effects Producer:
Pierre Raymond
Digital Effects Production Manager:
Louise Bertrand
Computer Graphics Supervisor:
Philippe Theroux
Computer Graphics Animators:
Jean-Yves Audouard
Marc Bourbonnais
Jeff Cappleman
Joseph Kasparian
James Stewart
Yanick Wilisky
Digital Effects Artists:
Michel Barrière
Nicolas Cotta
François Lambert
Sébastien Moreau
Computer Graphics
Threshold Digital Research Labs
Visual Effects Producer:
Kim Lavery
Visual Effects Co-ordinator:
Jeff Willerth
Post-production Supervisor:
George Johnsen
Visual Effects Artists:
Jim Carbonetti
Scott Coulter
Pam Fernandez
Matt Morgan
Greg Nelson
Digital Visual Effects
Executive Producer:
Mary Stuart Welch
Digital Effects Producer:
Laurel Lyn Schulman
Digital Effects Supervisor:
Dion Hatch
Digital Compositing Supervisor:
Grady Cofer
Digital Artists:
Rob Blue
Todd Mescher
Naomi Sato
Lawrence Carroll
Brennan Prevatt
Marty Taylor
Computer Graphics/Digital Compositing
Centropolis Effects
Digital Effects Supervisor:
Steffen M. Wild
CGI Supervisor:
Carolin Quis
Character Animators:
Michael Ford
Scott Holmes
Benedikt Niemann
Technical Directors:
Daniel Fazel
John Hart
Visual Effects Artists:
Joe Jackman
Shelley Butler
Bret St. Clair
Frédéric Soumagnas
Sean Cunningham
Rocco Passionino
Compositing Supervisors:
Cornelia Fausser-Ruemelin
Nelson Sepulveda
Mitch Drain
Abra Grupp
Mario Peixoto
Rotoscope Artists:
Robert Cribbett
Nathalie Gonthier
Shawna June Lee
Brian Wolf
Executive Producer:
Marc L. Kolbe
Line Producer:
Craig A. Mumma
Scanning/Recording Services
Pacific Title/Mirage
Special Effects
John McLeod
Mike Edmonson
Dave Heron
Cinema Production Services Inc
Art Director
Ed Vega
Set Decorator
Jeanette Scott
Scenic Artists
Dawn Baker
Kelly Hankins
Thomas Karl Jr
Pat Martine
Storyboard Artist
Raymond Prado
Costume Designer
Michael T. Boyd
Costume Supervisor
Stanley L. Moore
Key Make-up Artist
Ermahn Ospina
Special Make-up/ Creature Effects
Gregory Nicotero
Robert Kurtzman
Howard Berger
Tim Ralston
Wayne Toth
Jake McKinnon
David Wogh
Tim Leach
James Hirahara
Conceptual Designer:
Bernie Wrightson
Garrett Immel
Bill Hunt
Evan Campbell
Scott Tebeau
Mark Tavares
Alex Diaz
Gino Crognale
Bill Zahn
Chris Hansen
Ted Haines
Peter Farrell
Chris Cera
James Hall
Louis Kiss
Jason Collins
Tami Lane
Key Technicians:
Scott Patton
Shannon Shea
Henrik Van Ryzin
Brian Rae
Brian Demski
Mike McCarty
Steve Hartman
Johnny Saiko
Little Al Lorenzana
Hair Department:
Ron Pipes II
Justin Ditter
Key Hair Stylist
Bridget McNamara-Cook
Hair Stylist
Kelly Nelson
Pacific Title/Mirage
Principal Percussionist:
Wade Culbreath
Dennis James
Bill Boston
Jon Kull
Kevin Manthei
Pete Anthony
Bob Elhai
Music Supervisor
Alex Steyermark
Music Co-ordinator
Linda Cohen
Guitar Wrangler
Buck Sanders
Music Editors
Bill Abbott
Jay Richardson
Music Conductors/
Marco Beltrami
Pete Anthony
Music Scoring Mixer
John Kurlander
Scoring Recordist
Bob Levy
"The Kids Aren't Alright" by/performed by The Offspring; "Helpless" by Travis Bickle, performed by D. Generation; "Resuscitation" by Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott, performed by Sheryl Crown; "I'm Eighteen" by Alice Cooper, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce, Neal Smith, performed by Creed; "Another Brick in the Wall" by Roger Waters, performed by Class of '99 featuring Layne Staley, Tom Morello, Stephen Perkins, Martin Le Nobl, Matt Serlectic; "Stay Young" by Noel Gallagher, performed by Oasis; "Guys and Dolls" by Frank Loesser; "School Is Out" by Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce, performed by Soul Asylum; "Haunting Me" by Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, Andy Kubiszewski, James Sellers, Marcus Eliopulos, performed by Stabbing Westward; "Medication" by/performed by Garbage; "It's Over Now" by J. Stephens, performed by Neve; "Changes" by David Bowie, performed by Shawn Mullins; "Crackerjacks" by/performed by Los Feelers
Sound Design
Steve Boeddeker
Co-sound Supervisor
Bruce Lacey
Production Sound Mixer
Steve Nelson
Re-recording Mixers
Michael Semanick
Lora Hirschberg
Robert Rodriguez
Steve Romanko
Supervising Sound Editor
Phil Benson
Dialogue Editors
Claire Sanfilippo
Dianna Stirpe
Sound Effects Editors
Kyrsten Comoglio
Teresa Eckton
Richard Hymns
David Hughes
Leigh French
Sue Fox
Larry Schalit
ADR Services ? LA:
Digital Sound & Picture
Dennie Thorpe
Jana Vance
Frank 'Pepe' Merel
Tony Eckert
Stunt Co-ordinator
Bobby Brown
Jordana Brewster
Clea Duvall
Laura Harris
Josh Hartnett
Shawn Hatosy
Salma Hayek
Nurse Harper
Famke Janssen
Miss Burke
Piper Laurie
Mrs Olson
Chris McDonald
Casey's dad
Bebe Neuwirth
Principal Drake
Robert Patrick
Coach Dick Willis
Usher Raymond
Jon Stewart
Mr Furlong
Daniel von Bargen
Mr Tate
Elijah Wood
Summer Phoenix
F*%# You girl
Jon Abrahams
F*%# You boy
Susan Willis
Mrs Brummel
Pete Janssen
Christina Rodriguez
tattoo girl
Danny Masterson
F*%# Up 1
Wiley Wiggins
F*%# Up 2
Harry Knowles
Mr Knowles
Donna Casey
Louis Black
Mr Lewis
Eric Jungmann
freshman 1
Chris Viteychuk
freshman 2
Jim Johnston
P.E. teacher
Libby Villari
Casey's mom
Duane Martin
Katherine Willis
Mike Lutz
Hornet mascot
Doug Aarniokoski
Brun coach
Gary Hecker
creature vocals
Gus Araiza
Ray Melendez
Danny Sasser
Mark Edward Walters
front row fan, olive vest
Buena Vista International (UK)
9,371 feet
104 minutes 7 seconds
Dolby digital/Digital DTS sound/SDDS
Colour by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011