Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Slaughter High (1986)

It's April Fools' Day somewhere in the trenches of the American high school. A group of jocks lead by a certain Skip (Carmine Iannacone - watch out for his dramatic mugging in the second half of the film) and Carol (Caroline Munro, at age 36 wee bit old to be in high school, yet even with her 80s hair still too classy for the film, even though she doesn't seem to be trying very hard) play a series of especially cruel jokes on the local nerd Marty (Simon Scuddamore).

Despite their best efforts, the funny people don't manage to electrocute or drown their victim, but have no fear, Marty himself is stupid enough to take a (of course spiked) joint from some members of the group and will have a terrible disfiguring acid accident which also lands him in a padded cell.

Years later, Carol is an upcoming, coke-snorting actress, but still has time to visit her class reunion. It's a rather strange reunion at that - only the members of her old clique seem to have been invited and the school is more or less deserted.

A complete lack of guilty consciences and utter stupidity are the reasons why our group of victims still decides to have a party, but what do you know! Someone in a high school jacket wearing a fool's mask and hat is slaughtering them one by one in creative ways, and there's no way out of the school anymore. Will Carol be the world's first mean-spirited, coke-snorting Final Girl? Or will our friend Skippy rise to the occasion? More importantly, do you want them to?

Slaughter High came late in the first slasher movie cycle, but I can't say it had learned any important lessons from its million of predecessors, or rather, not one of the three(!) directors deemed it necessary to do any directing as we usually know it. Why this shoddy, derivative mess needed three directors at all is anybody's guess. I'm just going to blame the cocaine. Or perhaps someone somewhere thought that the combined efforts of three talentless hacks would somehow reach the level of the work of one barely mediocre craftsman. Turns out they don't.

While it, like all slashers whose only ambitions lie in being loose collections of murders, isn't in any way scary or exciting (please put words like "mood" right out of your vocabulary when it comes to films like it), the film at least succeeds as a cheesy collection of silly bits and stupid pieces. There are many joyful (or painful) moments you can only get in a shoddy production from the tail end of the slasher boom like this, be it the outrageous hideousness of the killer's victims or some of the sillier kills. At least the sex-electrocution (while talking dirty) has to be seen to be believed.

There is also the ending to mention, or rather the way in which it effortlessly manages to go from killing off the (theoretical) Final Girl to a stupid Twilight Zone pastiche to a "it was all a dream" cop out to a supposed shock ending in the space of five minutes. It's aweinspiring in its insipid and annoying way.

Apart from Caroline Munro as the only professional actor on screen, the producers also managed to rope Harry Manfredini in to do the music. In revenge, he composed them a bizarre mix of his usual synthie stuff, some idiosyncratic strings, cock rock and an annoying "humorous" jingle theme thing I will probably never get out of my head again.

So, if you are looking for quality in your movies, you should probably make a wide berth around Slaughter High. If your mind is instead set on witnessing more of the special brand of cheese that only grew (much like especially big-haired fungus) in the 80s, you will feel right at home with it.


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