The year was 1998, and the horror landscape had been completely reinvigorated by the success of the meta-slasher phenomenon Scream (1996). Studios were dead-set on keeping the trend of hyper-aware, pop culture savvy teens getting killed off from going anywhere any time soon.
Enter the script for The Faculty (1998), about a group of teachers in the fictional town of Herrington, Ohio that become infected by a being from another world, who then infect their student population, turning them into obedient, emotionless drones. But thanks to a ragtag group of outsiders with homemade drugs, they’re able to overcome the odds and save the day. Now if only they could survive 5th period!
Since Christmas Day marks the films 20 year anniversary, here are 5 facts about The Faculty that are guaranteed to jack you up.
5. The Film was Going to be Directed by Writer Kevin Williamson..
Hot off the success of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and the TV sensation Dawson’s Creek (1998 – 2003), writer Kevin Williamson was brought in for a rewrite of The Faculty script that had been in development limbo since the early 90’s.
Williamson was hired to punch up the dialogue, and possibly direct. He turned down directing duties so he could direct Dawson Creek‘s own Katie Holmes in Teaching Mrs Tingle (1998), which he also wrote. So Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who ran Miramax and Dimension Films at the time, turned to another favorite director of theirs, Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn).
4. That Cast, Though…
While the film itself may not be mentioned in the same breathe as it’s 90s brethren (though it absolutely should be), The Faculty is still notable for its cast. From veterans like Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Piper Laurie (Carrie) and Pre-Daily Show fame Jon Stewart to post child actor fame and pre- Lord of the Rings mania, Elijah Wood.
It also featured the screen debut of R&B singer Usher Raymond (The Voice) and introduced the world to Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful) and Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious franchise) who landed the role that was originally written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Charisma Carpenter after she turned it down. And while he appeared in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later the year prior, it was The Faculty that put Hartnett on the map.
3. Elijah Wood’s Eyes Helped Cast Him in Another Robert Rodriguez Movie..
Thanks to the massive success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early 2000s, Elijah Wood’s career skyrocketed, giving him the chance to choose any role he sought after. But it was thanks to his work on The Faculty that landed him one of his creepiest. More specifically, it was his eyes.
In a 2005 interview with the BBC, director Robert Rodriguez discussed his decision to cast Wood in the 2005 comic book adaptation of Frank Miller’s Sin City, where he played sociopath killer, Kevin:
“I worked with him in The Faculty and he has these really piercing blue eyes that women love but that I always found quite creepy. I told him back then, ‘One day I will cast you as a psychopath,’ never thinking that it would actually come about. He was one of the first people to see my early tests for Sin City and said, ‘Oh, I would kill to be in that movie!’”
Thankfully, no one was injured by Wood in acquiring the role…
2. Easter Eggs & Homages, Galore..
Though the film may heavily resemble Invasion of the Body Snatchers (which Clea DuVall’s character Stokely name-checks) there are plenty more tips, nods and easter eggs abound in its 104 minute run time.
Early on in the movie, after Josh Hartnett sells drugs to That 70s Show’s Danny Masterson, we see Elijah Wood in the next stall, nursing his bloody nose. On the wall behind him is the name “Tito & Tarantula” written in graffiti. Tito & Tarantula is the vampiric band in Robert Rodriguez’s previous movie From Dusk ’till Dawn.
Jon Stewart’s ill-fated science teacher is named Mr. Furlong, a reference to Robert Patrick’s Terminator 2 co-star, Edward Furlong. Rodriguez has stated the film also has other ‘Terminator’ references, particularly in the end battle where Wood finds himself trapped underneath the bleachers with the alien closing in on him, similar to Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in the original 1984 film.
The most blatant of the bunch, however is the scene in Zeke’s basement where dissension has fully taken over the group and no one can be sure who has been turned and who hasn’t, much like the blood sample scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Though this time around, the test isn’t about whose blood is infected, but who will or will not snort homemade ecstasy.
Talk about peer pressure.
1. It’s the Quintessential 90s Horror Movie..
Not only was The Faculty distributed by Dimension Films, a studio notorious for the late 90s boom of teen horror films, there was also an accompanying soundtrack that included Creed and Class of ‘99, featuring members from Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine and Jane’s Addiction.
To top it all off though, is the Tommy Hilfiger campaign ad starring the young cast of the movie.
Because… the 90s, man.
These were just 5 facts about the hidden gem that is The Faculty. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, we hope this list piqued your interest. Let us know on Twitter, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook.