The film was released on December 25, 1998, by Miramax Films through Dimension Films and received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $40 million at the domestic box office.
One evening at Herrington High School in Ohio, a few teachers, the head football coach and the principal leave after discussions about the school's budget. Having left her keys behind, Principal Drake (Bebe Neuwirth) returns to retrieve them. In her office, she is barred from leaving by Coach Willis (Robert Patrick), who becomes increasingly erratic, then impulsively stakes a pencil through her hand and Drake facially slashes Willis with keys. Drake flees to the main school doors only to find the handles chained up and drama teacher Mrs. Olsen (Piper Laurie) is outside, unable to assist Drake. Willis is then ambushed by Drake hiding in a room, smashing a jar on his head, seizes his keyset and grabs scissors for a weapon. Drake runs to the doors with Willis at her tail, unable to immediately find the correct key allows Willis to get up close and obstruct door closure, but Drake successfully closes the padlock. Olsen then consecutively stabs Drake with the scissors with an emotionless face, and reveals that Olsen is in cahoots with Willis.
The following morning, the film's protagonist students are introduced. Casey Connor (Elijah Wood), a dedicated but perpetually harassed and routinely bullied photographer for the school newspaper, is the unappreciated assistant to spiteful Delilah Profitt (Jordana Brewster), the paper's editor-in-chief and head cheerleader. Delilah's mistreated boyfriend Stan Rosado (Shawn Hatosy) is contemplating quitting the school's football team to pursue more academic ambitions, to Delilah's disapproval. Zeke Tyler (Josh Hartnett), an intelligent yet lazy and rebellious student repeating his senior year who sells, among other illegal items, a powdery ecstasy-like drug he manufactures and distributes, is confronted by Miss Elizabeth Burke (Famke Janssen), who expresses concern for him over his illegal activities. Naive transfer student from Atlanta, Georgia, Marybeth Louise Hutchinson (Laura Harris), attempts to befriend self-styled outcast Stokely "Stokes" Mitchell (Clea DuVall), who has deliberately spread rumors that she is a lesbian even though she has a crush on Stan and is a fan of science-fiction novels. Marybeth, on the other hand, develops a crush on Zeke. While eating lunch on the football field, Casey notices a strange creature on the field. He takes it to Professor Furlong (Jon Stewart), where the specimen is examined and believed to be a new species of cephalopod-specific parasite called a mesozoan. Delilah takes Casey into the teacher's lounge to find a story for the front page, where they hide in a closet. They witness the coach and the drama teacher assault the school nurse (Salma Hayek) by forcing one of the creatures into her ear. They also find the body of Mrs. Brummel (Susan Willis). Casey and Delilah flee, and Casey calls the police. Principal Drake claims nothing is wrong and that Casey is seeking attention.
The next day, Casey tells the others that he believes the teachers are being controlled by aliens and goes to show them the creature he found, which is gone. When confronting Professor Furlong about the creature, he becomes defensive and attempts to infect them. Zeke cuts off Furlong's fingers and then injects his homemade drugs into Furlong's eye, seemingly killing him.
Concerned about Casey's suggestion that everyone at the school could potentially be infected, Zeke takes everyone he trusts to his house where he examines and experiments with Casey's specimen. He discovers that it needs water to survive and can be killed by his drugs because it is a diuretic. Zeke makes everyone take some of his drug to prove they are human and unaffected. Delilah is revealed as infected, and she destroys Zeke's lab and most of his drug supply before escaping.
Acting on Stokes' speculation that killing the queen alien would revert everyone to normal, the group returns to the school, where their football team is playing a game and infecting opposing players. Believing Principal Drake to be the queen, they isolate her in the gym and fatally shoot her. Stan goes outside to see if it worked, but is infected by the coach. Zeke and Casey go to Zeke's car to retrieve more of Zeke's drugs. Casey leads infected students away from Zeke, who encounters Miss Burke in the parking lot and seemingly kills her when he makes his escape.
Casey returns to the gym, where Marybeth reveals herself to be the queen, having faked taking the test earlier. She attacks Stokes, who is stunned at the revelation. Casey and Stokes flee to the swimming pool where Stokes is injured and infected. Zeke and Casey go to the locker room, where Marybeth reverts to her human disguise, naked. She explains that she is taking over Earth because her own planet is dying. Marybeth transforms back to the queen and renders Zeke unconscious by throwing him into a locker. Casey takes the drug and tricks the queen into following him into the retracting bleachers, thus trapping her. Casey then stabs the drug into the queen's eye to kill it. The queen infects Casey with her dying breath, but Casey and Stokes return to normal upon the queen's death, while Zeke revives.
One month later, everyone has returned to normal. Stan and Stokes begin dating, and Zeke takes Stan's place on the football team (while Miss Burke affectionately watches him practice). Casey begins dating Delilah and has become a local hero. Professor Furlong is adjusting to life with reduced eyesight and fewer fingers.
- Elijah Wood as Casey Connor
- Josh Hartnett as Zeke Tyler
- Jordana Brewster as Delilah Profitt
- Clea DuVall as Stokely Mitchell
- Laura Harris as Marybeth Louise Hutchinson
- Shawn Hatosy as Stan Rosado
- Robert Patrick as Coach Willis
- Famke Janssen as Miss Burke
- Bebe Neuwirth as Principal Drake
- Piper Laurie as Mrs. Olson
- Daniel von Bargen as Mr. Tate
- Usher Raymond as Gabe Santora
- Jon Stewart as Professor Furlong
- Salma Hayek as Nurse Harper
- Susan Willis as Mrs. Brummel
- Christopher McDonald as Mr. Connor
- Libby Villari as Mrs. Connor
- Danny Masterson as Fuck Up #1
- Wiley Wiggins as Fuck Up #2
- Jon Abrahams as "Fuck You" Boy
- Summer Phoenix as "Fuck You" Girl
- Pete Janssen as Eddie 'Meat' McIvey
- Harry Knowles as Mr. Knowles
- Louis Black as Mr. Louis
- Duane Martin as Police Officer #1
- Katherine Willis as Police Officer #2
In 1990, David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel wrote their first draft of the script and sent it out, but there were no buyers. It wasn't until after the success of Scream that Miramax bought the script and rushed it into production. Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein brought in Kevin Williamson to do rewrites, keeping the basic story, but rewriting the dialogue and adding new characters to make it more "hip". Originally, Williamson was set to direct the film, but he chose not to so he could direct his self-penned script Teaching Mrs. Tingle. The Weinsteins brought in Robert Rodriguez to direct the film instead.
Reviews were mixed. Rotten Tomatoes tallied 50 reviews from critics (with 27 listed as positive and 23 listed as negative) to give The Faculty a 54% rating, calling it a "rip-off of other sci-fi thrillers". Metacritic gave The Faculty a score of 61.
The Faculty was viewed on 2,365 screens its opening weekend, debuting at #5 in the US, making $11,633,495. Its eventual domestic gross was $40,283,321.
Aliya Whiteley wrote an essay, "Revisiting Robert Rodriguez's The Faculty," which points out the film's influences:
Mix Invasion Of The Body Snatchers with The Thing. Throw in some Terminator, a spoonful of The Breakfast Club, and a pinch of The Stepford Wives, and you've got a big mess of a movie set in a school that’s being taken over by a conformist alien, one teacher at a time. You’ve got the very funny, occasionally scary, quite gory, and extremely entertaining 1998 Robert Rodriguez film called The Faculty.
Whiteley added, "It's all about examining the tropes of science fiction with a smart, funny angle. Half of the fun in this film is in identifying where you first came across a certain character's name or saw a particular special effect. For instance, there's a brilliant moment with a head on legs that I defy you to watch and not think of a certain John Carpenter film." Whitely concludes, "The Faculty is very definitely a big mess of a movie. But if you love all things sci-fi, it’s a good mess."
Keith Phipps described the nostalgic homage when he described the film as "a Kevin Williamson-scripted high-school variation on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers."
The score is composed by Marco Beltrami, who had previously scored the teen-slasher-horror film, Scream, as well as Mimic. Both Beltrami's score and songs by various artists used in the film were released as albums. The "music from the motion picture" album features songs by various indie and alternative rock groups.
Filming locations Edit
The Faculty takes place in fictional Herrington, Ohio, but was shot in Austin, Dallas, and Lockhart, Texas.
Home media Edit
The Faculty was one of the few Robert Rodriguez films not to receive special treatment on DVD. Missing are traditional extras typical for a Robert Rodriguez DVD including "10 Minute Film School", audio commentary, and making-of featurettes.
Several scenes involving an additional character named Venus, played by Kidada Jones, were shown in TV previews for the film, as well as Tommy Hilfiger commercials, but cut from the film. She is also visible in a scene in the theatrical version, standing next to Gabe (Usher) in Mr Furlong's (Jon Stewart) science class when they are looking at the "new species" in the aquarium. The Faculty was released in several countries on Blu-ray, including Canada on October 6, 2009, by Alliance; in Australia on September 1, 2011, by Reel; in the United Kingdom on October 3, 2011, by Lionsgate, in Germany on October 6, 2011, by Studio Canal; in France on January 10, 2012, by Studio Canal; and in the United States on July 31, 2012, by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
The film was nominated for a total of eight awards, including an ALMA Award for director Robert Rodriguez, 2 Saturn Awards, 2 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards and 3 Teen Choice Awards, but did not win any.