Saturday, February 25, 2012

Movie Review: Slaughter High (1986)

Slashers from the 80s are more than a little guilty of being way too formulaic and not doing a very good job at getting the formula right. A lot of them do work, though, either because they manage to add in a little something different and exciting to the formula, or because it's just so much fun to ridicule people in 80s movies. The hair is usually enough to get a chuckle out of me. Slaughter High seems like it's kind of trying to be different here, but um... it's really not.

Marty is your typical science nerd with glasses who can't go one day in high school without somebody tormenting him. A group of the popular kids decide to play the ultimate prank on poor Marty, who ends up burned, disfigured, and crazy as a result. Years later, the popular kids return to the school, now abandoned, for a little reunion. What they don't know is that Marty is their host - and this will be a reunion they may not survive.

Right at the beginning, the filmmakers do things all wrong. The prank is played out far too long, for one thing. It does allow the audience to get to know both Marty and the rather large group of friends that torture him lets us see how horrible and cruel their crime was, but we needed to see more scenes of them in the present rather than in the past. We need to see how these people have changed since high school, if at all. That way we can at least have some kind of sympathy for these douchebags. Alas, it seems that when they all get together again, these guys are still rather unlikable and they also don't seem to give a crap about what they did to Marty. Shocking, I know.

So anyway. Carol, Frank, Joe, Stella, Nancy, Skip, Shirley, and later Susan (seriously... too many characters there) show up at the old alma mater for the reunion and soon realize that they are the only ones there. They enter the cobwebby and dirty old building and eventually find a room that's all decked out for the party - complete with all their old lockers, holding an item that they each thought they had lost years ago. Marty's locker is there too. Hmmmm, I wonder what that means. Nothing about this situation seems to bother them - like why no one else was invited to the "reunion," or why a reunion would be held in the high school if it was abandoned in the first place.

The kills aren't that bad and there are a few inventive ones. The first guy gets it when he drinks a beer with acid in it and his stomach explodes outward. Shirley, the Asian chick, gets blood on her from this and when she decides to take a bath (um, a bathtub in a school? Sure. Why not?) and the water suddenly turns to acid too which proceeds to melt her body. She actually tries to turn off the water while still in the tub instead of like, trying to get out, which would have been my first thought. There's also death by lawnmower blades, drowning in a pit of what I can only guess to be poo, and an electrocution while Stella and Frank are enjoying some coitus on a bed in another room (um, a bed in a school? Sure. Why not?). Basically, they all die and you don't care because you don't like any of them and they do all kinds of stupid stuff, so really, they deserve it.

The one cool bit in Slaughter High was the choice of joker/jester mask and hat for Marty the killer. It's actually really freaky looking, and reminds me a bit of a clown, which we all know is the scariest thing on earth. But that's about all that Slaughter High has going for it. The characters are too unlikable and annoying - even Marty, whom we're supposed to have a bit of sympathy for, is just a frustrated dork who goes completely insane. The performances are even worse, with some of the most uninspiring dialogue and delivery I've heard in a long time. The camera work is sloppy and there were several scenes that were almost completely pitch black. Most reviews seem to hope that the prank sequence in the shower was pitch black too. Why do men always have a freak out when they see another man's weenie in a movie? I mean, every time I see boobs, do I go, "Oh gross, another chick's tits! Ew, get it off the screen!" No. You know why? Because I'm more mature than that. And because the human body is beautiful.

Believe it or not, this was a British movie trying to pass itself off as American. And in some places it doesn't translate well at all. All the events of the film take place on the eve of April Fool's Day, and the murders don't start until midnight on the morning on the holiday. Two characters have a conversation about how they only have to survive until noon on April Fool's Day because the jokes stop at noon. Huh? Since when? In America, we'll prank your ass all day, we don't stop at noon. But that seems to be the rule in several countries throughout the world, including the UK.

Anyway, lame movie. I'll check it off my list of culty 80s slasher movies, but it's not my favorite. It could have better if they tried harder - or if some of these guys took an acting class or two - because the story has real potential, although the whole prank-gone-wrong revenge story has been done a couple times before. Nice try. Do better next time.


  1. Yeah, this thing: it's like a migraine headache that just keeps building up. Very good review, and I feel for you - I was in the same boat myself....

    - TGWD

  2. Great review. I felt the same way about the movie. It all seemed off and I never liked the characters, so I didn't care what happened to them. I also scratched my head at the 5 year reunion thing since I've never heard of a school doing one that quickly -- at least not on this side of the pond.

  3. no masterpiece but I enjoyed it quite a lot. Terrible script, lame acting but there's lots of funny dialogue and the kills are all fun, especially the hilarious bed-electrocution :)

  4. I like it - sgree w/ Maynard, fun kills, cheesy good time. But certainly not any sort of masterpiece of the genre, either. Marty!

  5. I agree with the two other fellers on top of this comment! Slaughter High is no Oscar, but dang it, if it means killing off those bullies with acid and sewage I'm up for it!

    Plus I actually find Martin to be sympathetic. Guess that's me...

  6. This is a guilty pleasure for me and I watch it a couple of times a year. Great review however.

  7. You know the guy who played "Marty", Simon Scuddamore, actually committed suicide before the movie was released? I guess in real life he was a little messed-up in the head.

  8. This movie is terribly cheesy, but that's what makes it kinda fun.

    * the "'students" look older than (or as old as) the gym teacher (especially the gramma-daughter, Stella).

    * Skip, the prankster/quarter back is never funny nor do I believe he was anything other than a water boy

    * the accents come and go

    * the soundtrack(s), my god the soundtracks (the rockin one and the dopey one are both so bad they're great).

    * the killer getting super strength after the accident

    * a killer that wears bells/jingles, indicating his presence.

    * Stella: "talk dirty to me" Frank: "tits...uh...screw"

    * and the flashdance zombie ending. WTF! hahaha