Slaughter High (1986)
WRITERS: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, Peter Litten
DIRECTORS: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, Peter Litten
STARRING: Caroline Munro as Carol
Simon Scuddamore as Marty
Kelly Baker as Nancy
Sally Cross as Susan
Billy Hartman as Frank
Carmine Iannaccone as Skip
Gary Martin as Joe
Michael Saffran as Ted
Josephine Scandi as Shirley
John Segal as Carl
Donna Yaeger as Stella
QUICK CUT: After an April Fool's prank goes horribly wrong, ten years pass, and revenge finally comes after the kids responsible.
Marty - Our hapless nerd who's into science and is the victim of about a half dozen bad pranks at once, that end up scarring, maiming, and driving him mad. Shame that no one got any jail time over this stuff.
Carol - The object of Marty's affection, one of the popular girls in high school, an actress ten years later, and one of the lead architechts of Marty's disfigurement.
Skip - The other brains behind Marty's torture, and he doesn't have as good of a life as Carol. Between the two of them, the others weren't really necessary and just kinda joined in for the torment.
THE GUTS: It's September, so it must be time to go back to school, and that must mean it's time to watch Slaughter High! Or, maybe just because I say so, and this is enough of an underrated classic horror movie for me to review.
As the credits roll, we're quickly introduced to the cast, and that it's April Fool's Day, so surely the nebbishy looking guy being dragged off by the hot girl is going to end in a terrible, humiliating prank.
Poor Marty heads into the women's showers and starts taking his clothes off at Carol's request, as like...an entire freakin' film crew piles in to set up cameras. Usually we get that done before rolling, guys. Sigh. This is what you get with independant productions.
Not only do they have their film crew taking pictures of a very naked Marty, they spray him with a fire extinguisher, poke and prod him, *electrocute* him a little, laugh, AND give him a swirly.
Fortunately, a janitor peeks in and gets the coach, who actually punishes the entire crew, and lets Marty go. I cannot put into words my disgust at someone following that up with, "This is all Marty's fault!" I want to spit nails and smash things with that one, single line.
The coach reads the group the riot act, and then notices that two of the goon squad are missing. Turns out they went to apologise to Marty. Suuure they did.
Our missing pair give Marty a joint that is sabotaged some way, and Marty heads to the chemistry lab to play with acid. Now we wait for this to go horribly wrong.
As if that wasn't *already* enough of a recipe for disaster, Skippy escapes from punishment while the kid is barfing up whatever he smoked. Skippy sneaks into the chem lab and adds who knows what to Marty's experiment that makes things explode. This is the most elaborate prank ever.
We cut to ten years later when Carol wakes up from the nightmares she's been having about her ruining a kid's life and setting the school on fire. She's become a model and struggling actress, who's refusing to do some cheesy 'weird' movie. Hmm. Oh, the irony.
She hops in the shower, and while you think she's about to get attacked by the first-person Maniac cam, it's instead another of her classmates showing up to tell Carol she got engaged. Yawwwn fakeout.
On the way to the reunion, Skip runs into another student who just so happens to be hitching on the backroads. And then Skip's car won't start back up. Fortunately, even more fellow canon fodder arrives. The coinidences here are piling up fast. We all just happened to take the same backroad!
As everyone arrives at the school, not a single person thinks it's odd that the school is locked up, there's cobwebs on the windows, the grass is seriously overgrown, and the place is generally looking like no one has been there since they set things on fire.
They actually continue to sit on the school grounds well into the night and pass around beers, so at least there's that.
I am amazed at their rationalisation for all the weirdness at the school, once they finally get inside, is that it's (almost) April Fool's Day again, and this is all some elaborate prank. Yes, that makes sense. Well, with this crew and their elaborate pranks from earlier, I guess it's plausible.
After wandering through the abandoned hallways filled with assorted detritus, they find a room that's in decent shape, and set up for their reunion! Because this is normal. They also find all their old lockers have been dragged in, and filled with various things they all say went missing when they were in high school.
Skip and another of the gang scare some of the girls as they try and go to the bathroom, then run into the former janitor, who has been upgraded to being the caretaker of the abandoned school.
After they catch up a bit and share a beer with him, thy guy wanders the halls as the kids get back to their revelry. Unfortunately, he runs into someone wearing a jester mask they established earlier in the film.
In about five seconds, the killer grabs the surprised caretaker and hangs him up on a handy coat hook through the back of the brain. Sigh, we hang the janitors in the janitor closet, not on the coat rack..
Midnight hits, and the pranks begin. Because they had stopped before? But things turn dark, thankfully, when one of the group shotguns a beer, and his stomach expands and tears open.
That puts a damper on the party, and they try and escape. But gasp and shock! The doors are locked, and the windows barred! And to top it off, the grates over the windows are electrified for added shits and giggles.
No one notices one of the group was left behind, and she tries to clean all the blood off her from the gutsplosion. Meanwhile, they're being kinda smart to get out a window, and one of them actually makes a break for the cars.
The car unsurprisingly won't start, and the Jester is in the backseat, just waiting to take another victim. And so he does.
While the group watches from the window, they can't really see what's going on. As they see the car disappear, they assume their rescue has begun, but nope. Their hero is pinned to a fence and I guess the killer is off to grab some snacks.
Quite frankly, I would've let them keep thinking that, but the killer shines the headlights on the dead body. Still scares them, but I would've liked the false hope.
Back with the woman cleaning off the blood, the faucet in the tub starts spitting out something that is soon revealed to be acid. Well, don't just sit there screaming! Get up!
Meanwhile, another former student arrives and is lead down a hallway until someone jumps out and grabs her. Really? I'm having a hard enough time keeping track of all these people, and you bring one back for that?
The guys have a plan to use an old tractor as a means of escape, and leave Joe all alone to fix it up. Because that can't go horribly wrong.
And surprise! It goes horribly wrong. While his wife is having an affair with Frank, Joe's messing around is interrupted by the killer, who removes the jack holding up the mower.
He manages to hold it up for a bit, until the slasher lives up the name and cuts Joe's arms, making the mower land right on the guy's chest.
Speaking of his wife Stella and Frank, they've somehow found a bed in the school, and are going at it, when the killer wires up the frame with some elecricity that kills them both when they grab the bars.
Cue the survivors starting to find bodies, and Skippy shouting out into the halls, "Marty! What do you want from us??" Gee, I dunno, you kinda ruined his life...
People start freaking out as dawn breaks, and Skippy tries to reassure them by saying April Fool's Day ends at noon.
...Yeah, I don't think that's how time works.
The remaining survivors try and stay awake until the day is done at noon, but of course promptly fall asleep. Skippy wakes up when he hears a noise, but is grabbed almost immediately when he leaves the room.
While the girls run off to try and find him, we find Skippy hanging from a noose, and the only thing keeping him alive is kicked out from his feet.
As Carol and Nancy look for Skipper, they discover all the dead bodies are gone, and the place has been cleaned up rather well. If we hadn't seen him hung up by his brains earlier, I would've loved to have this be a clue that it was the janitor that did the deed.
They do eventually find SOMEthing, and that would be a projector showing the video they made of Marty's torment ten years ago. Imagine if they had YouTube back then? Whoo... Anyways, Marty's yearbook is also there, and all the dead people are X'd out, and Nancy's. Seeing that she's likely next, she runs off to very probably run straight into her doom.
Which is exactly what happens when she runs right into an open hole in the ground and lands in some sort of sewage run off for the school. Nancy tries climbing out, but the Jester pushes her right back into the pile of raw shit. Maybe she'll find the script down there.
That just leaves Carol running around the school, and she finds the janitor, which uh, I guess that was a body that didn't get cleaned up. For some reason.
She ducks into a restroom stall to try and hide out until noon strikes and April Fool's Day is over, but the toilet she's crouched atop of starts gurgling.
You might expect to find someone's head, but instead it's swirling blood, and just overflows with it when Carol tries to flush it away.
I am a little surprised that this scene takes place in the girl's locker room, but then we leave. One might expect the final confrontation to take place there, to tie things around full circle, especially with Carol being the main instrument of that humiliation.
This last bit of scenes, ever since Nancy fell into pooey darkness, has been almost completely silent. Save for Carol's screams, and a drumming, driving score, there's been no words of dialogue. That's a bit of a daring move, especially since a lot of this is just Carol running around the labrynthine hallways of the school, and yet it somehow works.
There's tension, stuff IS happening, and you know that bad things are coming, it's just a question of which corner they'll jump out of as Carol turns around one.
Which the Jester dutifully does, but is quickly smacked around with a baseball bat Carol picked up. Sadly, she drops it and runs away, leaving the Jester angry and armed.
Carol continues to run around, being grabbed once or twice, but escaping each time. She ducks around a corner, finds an old fire emergency hatchet, and goes to bury it in the Jester's head when he comes around the corner...except it turns out to be a not quite dead Skippy.
Well...NOW he's dead, so.
The Jester does appear once more, and Carol actually manages to toss the guy through a window down onto the gym floor, just as the clock strikes noon.
But as any fan of horror knows, that is FAR from a good way to stop the bad guy, so he continues his chase with a javelin that's been floating through the plot and changing hands a few times.
OH look. All this chasing, all this running, guess where we end up? Right back in the girls' locker room. I guess I was right, and we went in a giant plot cul-de-sac to get here.
So, the Jester enters the room, and yanks the shower curtain away. He then pulls off the mask and GASP! It's Marty!
This leaves Marty to complete his revenge by shoving the javelin into Carol's gut and killing her too. Huh. So, everyone's dead. The uh, the bad guy won.
As Marty cackles triumphantly at his ultimate April Fool's Day pranking revenge, he hears voices calling his name and wanders off towards them.
He enters the party room, now filled with fog and lit like Hell, and the spectres of all his victims come back to haunt him. Well, all his victims and Skippy, since he didn't *technically* kill that one dead.
I would argue at this point, the hellish horrorness of it all is largely unnecessary, but it is nice to have some sort of consequences for Marty, even in the form of nightmare visions. Plus, it's a good cap on the proceedings, giving one last bit of spine-tingling goodness. Also... ...
OH COME ON. I call foul! You can't have Marty waking up in the hospital and tell me this was all a LITERAL revenge fantasy of Marty's! NO! You take that back, movie!!
The movie then proceeds to have Marty escaping by pulling a Joker and dressing up like a nurse, then stabbing the doctor that comes to check on things in the eye with a syringe and then tearing at his face. Roll credits!
I am so angry right now.
Video: I watched this on a disc that has it crammed onto it with four other movies. It's far from terrible, but it's far from great. It's actually way better than I expected, and I can follow along well enough.
Audio: An okay mix with a good bit of stuff happening in the audio, for what this is.
Sound Bite: "If you hadn't taken Marty into the showers, none of this would've happened! It's you two he wants!" I'd say the body count previous to this statement makes that wrong
Body Count: Speaking of that body count! And quite frankly, I am counting all these, despite there not being a single real death in the first 85 minutes of the movie. Because there's a fair amount of death, and it's generally pretty good!
1 - At the 39 minute mark, the poor janitor gets hung out to die.
2 - The first of the gang bites it when he drinks some skunky beer and his stomach explodes.
3 - Another one bites the dust when he gets in a car and stabbed through the back. Musta been from GM.
4 - Shirley is burned in a bath of acid.
5 - A random girl appears to the reunion just to be yanked off into the darkness and never heard from again.
6 - While trying to fix the lawn mower to bust out of the school, the killer drops it on top oJoe.
7 - Stella gets quite the shock when she grabs an electrified bedframe.
8 - Which takes Frank with her since he's inside her at the time.
9 - Nancy drowns in shit, maybe?
10 - Skip manages to not be dead from hanging, but Carol fixes that with an axe to his face.
11 - And Marty finishes off Carol in the showers with a javelin. Did this just become a game of clue?
12 - Back in the really real world, Marty does at least kill a nurse and takes her uniform.
13 - And then finishes off the doctor who discovers him crossdressing.
Best Corpse: I've actually got a lot to choose from that I really like, but I gotta go with Skip, because he actually gets away, you think he MIGHT save the day, but NOPE! Axe to the face from not even the actual killer.
Blood Type - C+: Generally pretty solid, with some decent splashes all around, but nothing great.
Sex Appeal: Well, there's the couple who bang on the electrified bed, and a shower scene with Munro.
Drink Up! WHEN MARTY WAKES UP AND YOU ARE PISSED AND NEED THE BOOZE TO EASE THE PAIN
Movie Review: There's a lot to like here. It's got a solid plot, and while I always tout wanting the characters you're going to kill off be likable, this movie beaks that rule and yet does it SO well from the outset, and so deliberately. It's not just a case of these people being unlikable through no fault of anything, but everyone in this movie is loathsome in eveyr act they do, by design, from the moment you meet them. This is about going on Marty's journey into madness and revenge, and it works for the large part. A very minor thing that I love is the opening credits that roll over Marty and Carol walking down the hall to their date, which has their names pop up over them, and then the entire cast of the tormentors as they pile out of another room and follow, and even the one last straggler gets her "And introducing..." credit. It's a great bit of editing and style and direction. Also, that ending chase done in silence is just masterfully done with a great score, pace, and tension. But lets get serious. The plot is downright absurd. From the severity of the opening prank, to no one questioning the school's state ten years later, to the elaborate ways to keep everyone inside...this movie shouldn't work, and even knowing at the end it's all in Marty's head...well, that's just more infurating than explanatory. But the creativity in the story and deaths show, and there's some weird likability in it as you can't stop watching. Very flawed, but not without some talent. Three out of five bloody burbling toilets.
Entertainment Value: It's gonna be no surprise that the absurdity of the plot kinda makes me love this flick. And again, the movie's pretty creative and really does stand out from the pack of slashers and high school horror movies. Watching the huge cast start dropping left and right in really interesting, bloody ways is great, and you really are rooting for them all to die horribly. Which is usually bad, but this is like the one movie that has made that way of doing things work. The plot takes awhile to get to the fun stuff, but once it does, the movie does not let up with the insanity. Five out of five jester's masks.
AND YES I KNOW THAT SOME TRADITIONS HAVE APRIL FOOL'S PRANKS MUST BE DONE BY NOON! It's still silly...