There were a lot of slasher movies made in the eighties, and Slaughter High is definitely one of them. The ingredients are all present including a pool of potential victims making incredibly poor decisions, a killer with motivation and excess time on his hands, at least one gratuitous and inexplicable nude scene, and some creatively gory deaths.
A group of high schoolers make life miserable for a science-loving geek named Marty, but when a prank goes too far the poor nerd is left scarred, burned, and on the edge of death. Some years later the bullies are invited back to school for a reunion and discover on their arrival that not only has the school been closed but they’re the only ones on the invite list. Death is in session and soon they’re getting picked off one by one in gruesome and gory ways.
Eight or so kills in total starting with the janitor caretaker who gets his head impaled on a coat rack. Some of the remaining highlights include a guy who chugs a tainted beer and immediately sees his stomach burst open, a girl taking a leisurely bath amidst the chaos who soon realizes acid isn’t good for her skin, and a fornicating couple who are the victims of coitus electrocutionus interruptus. And one girl is pierced with a javelin (as a visual metaphor for the penile stabbing that Marty expected to be doing in the beginning of the movie).
The prank that gets out of hand sees Marty burned with both fire and acid, and every other act of violence leads immediately to the victims’ death. A toilet overflows with blood… somehow. The most devastating visual though is the full frontal shot of Marty’s dangler in the shower.
Caroline Munro teases Marty with the possibility of sex, but he’s the only one that gets naked. Some girls do push-ups that involve more pelvic thrusts into the floor than arm movement. Munro (almost) talks dirty with her sweaty and overweight agent, and she has two shower scenes that reveal nothing but bare shoulders. Which is rude. Two of the other girls do show a bit more though including one topless girl in a bathtub (to wash blood off her face) and another topless gal who strips down for some of the sexing. Interestingly, the two naked girls are topless and the two naked guys are seen bottomless. Just an observation.
The meek shall inherit the earth? If there’s one black character in a slasher they’ll always be the first to die? High school reunions are for nerds?
Slaughter High is pretty much what you’d expect in a slasher film with three first-time writer/directors. The basics are here, but there’s no real skill involved in their assembly. None of the characters are likeable and all of the actors overplay their performances, so instead of suspense or fear viewers will actually look forward to their eventual demise.
For all its faults though there are some elements that work. The killer who stalks the halls of the school wears a jester mask which may seem goofy but is close enough to a clown to be scary. The jingle of the bells actually adds a bit of an ominous tone as well. The effects work well too, with the highlight being the gut busting scene in the film’s first half. The odd thing there is that other death scenes that seem ripe for gore effects get nothing more than a splash of blood… the lawnmower murder for example should have been a messy delight.
It’s worth noting that Slaughter High’s original and working title was April Fool’s Day, but the producers sold the name to Paramount for a bucket of cash for their own (far better) slasher. The filmmakers discovered this too late in production to make changes to the script so the prank-filled holiday still plays an obvious and major role in the story.
This is by no means a good movie, but there’s enough entertainment here between the murders, gore effects, and cheesy 80s synth score for fans of the genre to enjoy. Everyone else will probably want to pass though as the bad acting, terrible script, and cheesy 80s synth score may be a bit too much to stomach. If it is right up your alley however (and your DVD player is capable of playing region 2 releases) the new Arrow Video disc is the way to go. There’s a solid assortment of extras including a very candid interview with Mark Ezra, one of the film’s three directors. He’s quite honest about his feelings when it comes to the film’s production and quality, and it’s actually more entertaining than the movie itself. But however you see it, if you see it, don’t blame me for the emotional scarring you’ll endure after seeing Marty’s geeky weiner.
Slaughter High is available on DVD from Amazon as well as a just released special edition DVD from AmazonUK (region 2)