Slaughter High (1986)
A group of people are invited to a school re-union only to find themselves stalked by a geek – clad in a baseball jacket and a jester’s hat – they cruelly persecuted and accidentally disfigured some years previously.
Part (intended?) comedy, part slasher. The movie borrows heavily from genre classics – the same composer as Friday 13th; a school prank going wrong and causing the victim to become a blunt-instrument wielding maniac (much better treated in the very under-rated “Terror Train” (1981) plus the hardly-original backdrop of school corridors as blood-streaked avenues for a bit of stalk ‘n’ slash (already handled by “Prom Night” (1980) amongst others).
As a film, it fails on nearly every front. The “acting” is diabolical, the script mortifying and the lighting is just ridiculous and chaotically inconsistent (some shots seem to have been taken under a UV light whereas others must surely have been shot with a wire mesh over the camera). The beginning of the film is hard to watch without openly laughing at the over-acting and snippets of absurd dialogue. I mean it really is like watching your local ‘amateur dramatics’ society at the village hall. To add insult to injury, the ‘shock’ ending is painfully silly and completely unnecessary.
Nevertheless, if you can look past these very elementary failings (I know it’s hard), it’s quite an enjoyable if tongue-in-cheek experience with some incredibly ingenious death sequences and enviable special effects; you certainly get the impression that this whole picture is just an excuse for well-staged and fleshy set-pieces. We have, in this carnival of gore : a beer-can laced with some form of poison which causes a young man’s stomach to peel-open like a banana skin; a woman who takes a bath in foaming acid (and for some reason, known only to the screenwriters, refuses to get out); a horny couple executed via an electrified bed-frame and a mechanic torn to shreds by a lawn-mower placed on his chest. (But, to even this up, we do experience a very poor ‘kill’ – it’s merely an accident in my eyes – involving a young girl simply falling down a drain. gosh, how terrible, that wouldn’t even make the Welsh news).
Additional positives include a genuinely frightening outfit for our killer. Of course, it is not original, see the far-superior “The House on Sorority Row” (1982), but the jester’s hat is still a great image – particularly when it is thrown across the derelict school as a haunting shadow on the wall (one of the few instances of punchy camerawork) – and a cracking 80s heavy-metal tune as the soundtrack to proceedings (blessed with the thoughtful lyrics: “Hahaha. I’m gonna get you! Hahaha”) does help to dampen the inane ramblings of the script.
I make no attempt to claim this film is in any way ‘good’ but it’s a puzzlingly endearing movie which frankly needs to be seen to be believed.
Hotdog rating: 2/10 (but I love it!)