June 13, 1988 12:00 PM

If you’re up for further exploration of mondo New York, here’s a mind-numbing fictional excursion into a city high school. As seen by writer-director Paul Mones in his feature debut, the school looks like something that has been nuked. The students look worse. Drugged-out and dead-eyed, except at heavy metal concerts and gang rumbles, they are adrift in an adult world devoid of feeling. Awww. John (The Deer Hunter) Savage tries to reach out to them. He is—what else?—an idealistic English teacher. Savage gets help from a new student (David Jacobson) who calls himself Voorhas. At first the students call Voorhas a “retard.” But Voorhas is a prophet. He knows the subway is a monster so he conquers his fears by giving it a name, “Hissss.” Cute, huh? Soon the kids are inspired by Voorhas’ poetic muse. Example: “Pigeons flap/crusted with crap.” Savage is impressed. “Oh, wow,” he says. Oh, brother. For this, audiences at the Chicago and Montreal film festivals stood up and cheered. For this, I sat and stewed. Are The Beat and Mondo New York really a plot to kill summer tourism in the Big Apple? (R)

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