This week’s post comes to you by request from my friend Dan. I’ve actually been wanting to write about Summer School (1987) for a while, but just managed to find the last few songs I’d been searching for so I could give you a complete soundtrack.
When I was a kid, my mom used to run the video department at our local grocery store. My family had just gotten our first VCR and, with mom’s discount, we were able to rent videos pretty often. The film I requested most often when asked what I wanted to rent: Summer School (well, maybe I asked for Return of the Jedi more often, but whatever). Why was this movie so popular with me? Well, it has one of my favorite scenes in a comedy: the classroom horror scene. I was highly impressed by the creativity of those kids in that scene, and, as a big fan of horror films, I always wanted to see something like that happen at my school. But, alas, my friends and I didn’t have much talent for creating gore.
For those of you who haven’t seen Summer School, here’s a synopsis: Gym teacher Freddie Shoop (Mark Harmon) is blackmailed into teaching a summer school remedial English class by the smarmy assistant principal (Robin Thomas) of his beachfront high school. His class is made up of a motley crew of underachievers who relish in the fact that Shoop is as big a goof-off as they are. After taking the students on a series of field trips to a petting zoo and amusement parks, he gets in trouble with the assistant principal and is told that if his students don’t pass an English skills test they’ve all previously failed, his job will be in jeopardy. In order to get them to study, Shoop bribes them and agrees to grant each one a wish, including teaching one student to drive, throwing a Fourth of July party at his house, allowing a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in class, being a pregnant student’s Lamaze coach, and allowing another student to have a bed in the classroom.
As the summer progresses, the students have fun while taking extreme advantage of Shoop’s good-natured attitude. Eventually he gets tired of them not taking him seriously and quits. But after terrorizing a substitute teacher who’s brought in after Shoop leaves, the students convince him to come back and help them pass the test. With the help of a fellow teacher he has the hots for (Kirstie Alley), Shoop helps the class prepare, and in the process he and the students discover that they have it in them to accomplish whatever they want, even if his method of teaching and their method of learning are a little unorthodox.
The soundtrack is full of fun 1980s fare, including two tracks by ’80s movie-soundtrack regular Elizabeth “E.G.” Daily. Her song “Mind Over Matter” was a moderate hit, though she almost didn’t get to sing it: apparently it was written for Debbie Harry, who dropped it for legal reasons. I managed to find the entire soundtrack, including a few songs that never made it onto the official release. I even included a bonus remix version of “Mind Over Matter” for your listening enjoyment.
Danny Elfman – Happy
Billy Burnette – Get an Education
The Fabulous Thunderbirds – My Babe
Tonio K. – I’m Supposed to Have Sex With You
Tone Norum – Second Language
Vinnie Vincent – Animal
Elizabeth “E.G.” Daily – Seduction
Blondie – Rapture
Paul Engemann – Brain Power
Tami Show – All I Want From You
Elisa Fiorillo – Jackie
Elizabeth “E.G.” Daily – Mind Over Matter
Elizabeth “E.G.” Daily – Mind Over Matter (Remix)