Caroline Munro - Carol
Simon Scuddamore - Marty Rantzen
Carmine Iannaccone - Skip Pollock
Kelly Baker - Nancy
Donna Yeager - Stella
Billy Hartman - Joe
Gary Martin - Frank
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 92 Minutes
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
Being part of the graduating class of 1999, that means my 10 Year Reunion is coming up. It's not like I'm excited about it or even thinking about going. Sure, I enjoyed high school unlike most people but after not seeing people for 10 years, I don't feel exactly comfortable showing up and sharing my life with them. But then again, there's time to change my mind. Too bad watching the reunion in SLAUGHTER HIGH isn't helping any.
Originally called APRIL FOOL'S DAY before Paramount Studios took the title for their respective slasher that would come out in the same year, SLAUGHTER HIGH shows that 1986 was definitely past the peak of the slasher film. But even though the film is a bad one, it's one of those cheesy B-movies that happens to be mildly entertaining for its terrible acting and pretty cool death sequences. Let's see why we should be somewhat cautious stepping back into the halls of SLAUGHTER HIGH.
Marty Rantzen (Simon Scuddamore) is your typical high school nerd that constantly gets picked on by the "cool" kids. One April Fool's Day [which also happens to be Marty birthday], the beautiful [and 20 years too old for high school] Carol (Caroline Munro) seduces Marty into the Girl's Locker Room. Thinking he's gonna have sex with Carol, Marty is surprised to see Carol and her friends video taping him in his birthday suit before giving him a swirlie to further his embarassment. Carol and her friends are punished, but they're not done with Marty. After giving Marty a spiked joint, Skip (Carmine Iannaccone) adds a special ingredient to Marty's chemistry experiment - so special that it causes an accident that burns Marty severely and traumatizes the poor guy.
Ten years [or five, according to the cheesy trailer] pass and the "cool" kids have all been invited to a high school reunion at the old school. The strange and funny thing is that they're the only group invited to this celebration. How long will it take these idiots to figure out why they're there? Will Marty kill them one by one or will he received another swirlie ten years in the making? And isn't there an age limit to how old people can be in high school? I mean, geez - it's pretty sad to see thirtysomethings going for their diplomas. G.E.D. anyone?
SLAUGHTER HIGH is a film I haven't seen since the early 1990s that I decided to watch again to see how it held up. Well the film doesn't hold up all that well. In fact, SLAUGHTER HIGH is a pretty crappy flick that has some terrible thespian work and really bland cinematography. But hell, the negatives actually create a bit of humor and cheesiness that's actually a bit entertaining and even infectious in a B-movie nostalgic sort of way. SLAUGHTER HIGH isn't the greatest slasher flick out there but at least it tries.
The story is pretty generic if you know you're way around a slasher. Someone gets picked on and he extracts his revenge on those who messed with him in grisly ways. Nothing more, nothing less. The killer obviously has a mask and costume - in this case a jester mask - and uses multiple methods to murder his victims. And the victims are either horny, stupid, or annoying enough to feel good about wishing them dead in grisly ways. It's a slasher formula that has worked for years in the 80s and it does it job here.
The major issues with the narrative [which pretty much make the film a guilty pleasure to begin with] are with some of the actions by the characters. For one, someone dies and one of the victims who witnessed this murder decides it's a great fuckin' time to take a bath. Sure, I appreciated the gratuitous nudity, but does that make any sense to you? And what about the couple that has sex even though they know someone wants them dead? Hey, why not make whoopie when your life is about to end? You gotta die happy, right? And I just love the fact that a 120 pound wimp can lift a 200 pound guy by the neck with one arm. Remember - chemicals and the trauma caused by them can lead to superhuman strength! And let's not forget the ability to be everywhere at once! At least it's explained in the end but still...pretty silly stuff.
I also must thank the casting director for hiring middle-aged actors to play teenagers and then their twenty-something counterparts. Caroline Munro is hot but she wishes she could be 17 again. I wouldn't have been surprised if anyone confused her and her fellow thespians to be members of the school faculty. I found the entire idea hilarious.
The gore is pretty cool in the film though for the right reasons. The Marty burn scene is nice and I love the stomach explosion after drinking beer. The acid scene is cheesy looking but in a good way. And I love that electrocution during sex scene. I need a great laugh every once in a while. I wonder if it was good for them as it was for me...
The music by Harry Manfredini, who did the score for the classic FRIDAY THE 13TH, is pretty silly but it fit the film's atmosphere well. It did annoy me though with the vocals and that wannabe Joker laugh. But then again, it matched the cheesiness of SLAUGHTER HIGH.
The direction by George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten was nothing remotely special. It's your standard slasher filmmaking. First person POV? Check. Cheap jump scares? Check. Low and high angles to intensify the mood? Check. The film was nicely edited and it set a nice pace. The cinematography could have been better but then again the transfer was most likely taken from a VHS copy of the film. It's no John Carpenter or Wes Craven or anything, but it gets the job done I guess.
The acting is pretty terrible in SLAUGHTER HIGH but it makes the film more entertaining than it has any right to be. The best of the lot is definitely Simon Scuddamore as Marty, the nerd turned killer. He's very convincing as a geek and more convincing as a disturbed individual because of the bullying of his past. Unfortunately, Scuddamore didn't make any more films due to a suicide shortly after the film was released in 1986. But he did good here and I enjoyed his character.
The rest of the cast doesn't compare to Scuddamore at all. Of course, the star of the film is the extremely beautiful Caroline Munro as Carol. Starring in MANIAC and THE LAST HORROR FILM, Munro is no stranger to slasher flicks and she does okay here. But she's not picked because of her acting anyway so there's no point in bringing it up. I still think it's funny she was hired to play a teenager when she was actually 36 at the time, but it doesn't matter. She made great eye candy! The other actors are worse than Munro and don't need mention here. But at least I laughed my ass off because of their acting "abilities".
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE DECIDING NEVER TO PICK ON THE SCHOOL NERD AGAIN
- Don't pull an April Fool's Day prank on someone with a small penis. It's already April Fool's all year round for the guy. Don't push it.
- Don't add a secret ingredient into someone's chemistry experiment. It could burn the person really badly. Or turn him into The Joker. Smilex was discontinued for a reason, ya know?
- At this high school reunion, the gang decided to chill by snorting coke and smoking joints. From the looks of this, I'm guessing Amy Winehouse believes she's at her high school reunion 24/7.
- Ted's stomach exploded after he sank a can of beer. Well they do say what's on the inside is what counts...
- Don't take a bath inside a school right after you witnessed a murder. You'll probably be bathing in acid, melting you into a skeleton. Or taking the pigment away and turning you into Michael Jackson. You better pray for the first one.
- Never have sex on a metal bed hooked up to a fuse box. That last orgasm will be so electrifying that it'll take your breath away.
- Nancy fell into the sewer drain. Man, she must have felt like shit!
THE FINAL HOWL
SLAUGHTER HIGH is dated, cheesy, and just an all-around bad horror film. But it has a quality that turns some of those negatives into a pretty fun watch. It's a guilty pleasure only a random few will probably appreciate and it's not gonna hurt to check it out at least once. Believe me - they don't make them like these anymore.
As for my high school reunion, I'll only go if there's a serial killer roaming the school. I mean, who wants to be dead bored? Mmm, I hope they're serving beer...