Blu-ray Review: Slaughter High (Vestron Video Collector’s Series)
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Slaughter High (Vestron Video Collector’s Series)
Directors: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, Peter Litten
Writers: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, Peter Litten
Cast: Simon Scudamore, Caroline Munro, Carmine Iannaconne, Donna Yeager, Gary Martin
Distributor: Lionsgate
Unrated | 91 Minutes
Release Date: October 31, 2017

“Where the student body is going to pieces.”

On Halloween, the Vestron Video Collector’s Series unleashes the cult slasher flick Slaughter High for the first time on limited-edition Blu-ray. Written and directed by George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten, the 1986 film follows a group of popular high school students who play a cruel April Fool’s Day prank on a classmate, resulting in a terrible accident.

Marty Rantzen (Simon Scudamore) was the shy nerdy kid all the jocks and preps teased, taunted, and tortured mercilessly. One day, things went too far “” one of their pranks backfired, disfiguring Marty for life. Five years later, an unhinged Marty has arranged a special class reunion for all his old pals: the prom queen (Caroline Munro, Maniac), the jock (Gary Martin), the bad boy (Billy Hartman), and the class clown (Carmine Iannaconne). Together, the alumni of Doddsville High will seek out higher learning at Slaughter High, where there’s horror in the halls, lynching in the lunchroom, and murder in the machine shop.

Originally titled April Fool’s Day, the movie was renamed in post-production after the filmmakers learned of Paramount’s slasher film of the same title scheduled for release of the same year. While Slaughter High received a limited release theatrically in the United States, it’s known primarily as a VHS cult classic – the kind of cheap, sleazy horror movie you could find at your local mom ‘n’ pop video store that you would take a chance on, if for no other reason than its alluring box art. In other words, a Vestron Video release. It isn’t a particularly good film, but it’s interesting as a commentary on the slasher genre at the time.

It’s almost an anti-slasher; a movie that shows the silliness of the subgenre by exaggerating everything to the point of absurdity. Slaughter High features an iconic killer, gruesome death scenes, and a whole lot of weirdness, but not much else. A couple is electrocuted on a metal bed while having sex, someone takes a bath in a tub of acid, and another classmate is impaled on a javelin pole. Hell, there’s even a scene where a guy is slaughtered by tractor blades. Marty may be a hopeless nerd, but at least he’s creative!

A deep cut, Slaughter High is devoid of logic but highly entertaining for its many WTF moments. The writing is bad, the acting is bad, the direction is bad, but somehow it’s infinitely more watchable than many low budget slashers of the era. And there’s no better way to watch it than this new Blu-ray release. Restored and remastered, Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray features a 1080p high-definition transfer (16×9 widescreen 1.85:1) from the original film elements. The original Mono Audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio. This is without question the best this film has ever looked.

Slaughter High includes all-new special features, including “Going to Pieces” with co-writer/director Mark Ezra and “My Days at Doddsville” with actress Caroline Munro. There’s also an audio commentary with co-writers/directors George Dugdale and Peter Litten, and an audio interview with legendary composer Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th, House), featuring isolated music and SFX selections. Rounding out the bonus materials are an alternate title sequence, theatrical trailer, radio spots, and a still gallery.

With a solid high-definition transfer and some solid special features, this is another impressive release for the Vestron Video Collector’s Series. If you’re a fan of ’80s horror, slasher flicks, or nerds getting revenge on the assholes who make their awkward adolescence a living hell, then Slaughter High is absolutely worth a look. You can pick up your copy now at Amazon.


Cover Art

Find reviews of previous Vestron Video Collector’s Series releases here! Follow me on Twitter and Letterboxd!

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