Directed by George Dugdale
Starring Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore, Carmine Iannaccone, Donna Yeager, Gary Martin, Billy Hartman, Michael Saffran
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 14, 2009
I take back every bad thing I ever said about every bad movie I have ever seen from Manos the Hands of Fate to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room because none of them could ever compare to the unimaginable horror I witnessed last night when I put the Slaughter High DVD in my player. This is officially the worst movie I have ever seen my friends, and I’ve seen the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. I’ve always had a soft spot in my black heart for the slasher horror movies of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s (the subgenre’s golden age in my professional opinion). The best ones are like taking a ride on the scariest rollercoasters in the world from the comfort of your sofa or bean bag chair or strolling through those spooktacular haunted houses at the state fair. The worse ones however are ordeals more grueling that your average hostage situation to endure, and such is the case with Slaughter High despite a running time of 91 minutes. Not only did this movie test my patience and grate my nerves, it also insulted my intelligence to the point where I wanted to go up to my television and smack it across the room.
Starting off as most slashers did with a moronic prank gone wild, high school nerd Marty Rantzen (Simon Scuddamore) gets lured into the girls’ locker room with the promise of wild sex with school sexpot Carol (Caroline Munro, who was actually 36 years old at the time she played a “teenager” in this “movie”) and ends up getting pranked on big time by Carol and a bunch of herÂ bozo friends. The poor schmuck gets stripped to only what the Lord gave him, dunked in a toilet, and given a mild electrical shock. Later that same day since it is April Fools’ Day (the movie’s original title) after all, a couple of Marty’s meathead jock tormentors give him a tainted joint that causes him to get into an accident while in the science lab. As if his day couldn’t get any worse Marty gets doused with nitric acid and set on fire, scarring his face permanently.Â
Five years later Carol is now a low-rent actress refusing offers from her sleazebag agent Manny (sleazebag producer Dick Randall in the cameo role he so richly deserves) to do sexploitation flicks, because you know she’s ….ahem…. too good an actress (snicker) to lower herself to that level. Would Carol have turned down that role if she had known her destiny would bring her to….Slaughter High? Well anyway Carol meets up with several of her old school chums for a hastily-assembled class reunion at their now closed down alma mater. The funny thing is, not a single oneÂ of these potential MENSA candidates knows who put this swingin’ shindig together. When members of the biggest bunch of self-absorbed shitheels this side of The Big Chill start dying off in creatively gruesome fashion it becomes clear that Marty Rantzen, still lookin’ as pretty as Rondo Hatton after all these years, is their jester-masked host for the evening and he’s just anxious to show his former tormentors all the respect and hospitality they gladly showed him years ago even if he literally kills them with his kindness.
Released in 1986 just as slasher cinema was politely being shown the door by the self-appointed guardians of good taste, Slaughter High was seriously late for this party. The movie’s tone, contributed to no doubt by its three count ’em THREE DIRECTORS-George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten, veers drunkenly from derivative slice ‘n’ dice to sometimes flat out fucking goofy to the pointÂ of head scratching incomprehensibility. The prologue alone takes up nineteen minutes of screen time; that’s a helluva lotta time to set up such a simplistic premise. Of course it isn’t like we’re missing a lot as a result of this. Once the story (snicker) moves to the present day it drags harder than Horace Pinker’s leg. Every actor hired to play one of Marty’s tormentors looks way too old to play a high school student even five years later. The movie was filmed in England where no high schools exist (to my knowledge), but isn’t it remotely possible that the filmmakers could have found a better location for the movie’s high school than some creaky old mansion that looks like a holdover from the Hammer horror days? And while we’re on the subject of this so-called “school”, are the kids who pranked on poor Marty the only students to have graduated from the school? They’re the only ones who were invited for this….ahem….reunion. Â All their lockers are located in the same damn room! Did the school close down immediately after their dumbshites graduated? There are actually cobwebs all over the bloody place, although the school’s old janitor is still hanging around and now calls himself the caretaker. He gets taken care of of course in keeping with the slasher credo: “Leave no victim behind.”
The acting is terrible even from Caroline Munro of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, The SpyÂ Who Loved Me,Â and Maniac fame, suppressing her charisma and captivating beauty behind a layer of hideous make-up and a failed attempt at an American accent. Munro’s character is supposedly set up to be the sympathetic “final girl” that every slasher film usually has but while she is the last to run from the revenge of the nerd around the school corridors like a chicken with a severed noggin she gets not a single ounce of character development. Like every other person getting picked off gorily I didn’t care a bit for Munro and certainly didn’t mind watching her die, which is sad because when she played Anna the photographer who falls in love with Joe Spinell’s sweaty psychopath in the 1980 grindhouse horror classick (not a typo) Maniac you generally cared for her character and hoped for her survival at the end. Not so here. I was really rooting for Marty to bring the pain hard and fast to each and every one of these narcissistic schmucks, and oh does he ever. The death scenes are the best parts of the film and it all leads up to one of the most ridiculous endings of all time, which I won’t spoil unless you want to see the movie for yourself.
Now it’s time for those drive-in totals, Joe Bob Briggs style! We have ten dead bodies; four breasts and some unwelcome hairy man ass (even “Lil’ Marty” puts in a guest appearance at the beginning); acid-laced beer that literally makes you spill your guts; douchebag lynching in the gymnasium; janitor hung on a doornail by the back of his skull; stabbing through a car seat; bathtub boiling complete with cheesy melting face; midcoital death bed electrocution; muck drowning; toilet overflowing with blood (A callback to Coppola’s The Conversation? Call the plumber!); painfully apparent fake head gets axed; gratuitous Friday the 13th references including the appearance of a certain hockey mask and composer Harry Manfredini ripping off his own scores from Friday and its sequels throughout the entire movie; and a foggy zombie disco. At least Randall, fellow producer Steve Minasian, and their three rent-a-directors keep the gore goofy and the blood fake as hell, providing the movie with what little entertainment value there is even though it doesn’t make Slaughter High scary so much as unintentionally hilarious.
Lionsgate Home EntertainmentÂ has released the unrated cut of Slaughter High on DVD as part of their “Lost Collection” of movies that no one really wanted unless there are more people clamoring for movies that star Jon Cryer than I had initially thought. But then again can anything really STAR Jon Cryer? The film is presented in a muddy fullscreen transfer that looks sourced from someone’s beaten up VHS rental copy of the movie. Fast forward past the end credits and you’ll even see the old Vestron Video logo! Lionsgate could have at least given the film a decent remastering since they also included a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround audio track that sounds okay if not worthy of even the cheapest home theater set-up. English and Spanish subtitles are also included.
Extras on this release are very scant. Besides a vintage theatrical trailer the discÂ comes with a trivia track that you’d think would provide some background information about Slaughter High. Besides being presented in an annoying mutiple choice quiz format very little of the trivia relates to the actual film, instead streaming factoids on topics either vaguely associated with the movie or not associated with it at all. It’s like a Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary provided by Buzz Killington. I did find some of the “trivia” interesting though: I can safely say that I came away from watching this movie knowing that Adolf Hitler influenced the production of the Volkswagen Beetle and that the distortion on a mercator map increases when move north and south from the equator.
Rounding out this veritable bounty of bonuses are upfront trailers for other Lionsgate releases that you would probably be better off checking out rather than wasting time on Slaughter High: My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition, The Monster Squad: 20th Anniversary Special Edition, and Dirty Dancing: 20th Anniversary Special Edition.
I’m sure Slaughter High has its fans that can look past the movie’s many flaws and embrace it as a fun and campy diversion. I can’t do that. It’s just too godawful a flick. Joe Bobby says avoid this like your drunk, unmarried 50-year-old uncle.
BAADASSSSS will return. “April Fucking Fools!”