Monday, April 2, 2012

Marty Majored In Cutting Classmates!

Slaughter High(1986)
Director: George Dugdale
Cast: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore, Carmine Iannacone

Slasher films have never been known as being high brow entertainment, even in a genre that has been relatively warm to exploitation. I've never been overly fond of them for obvious reasons, outside of the trashier aspects, which appeal to the bad film aficionado within. Most of them are cult favorites at best, with only a handful(Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street) rising above tripe.
Slaughter High was considered for awhile to be a "lost" slasher film, and many would wish that it had remained so. Even though the film has proven popular with nostalgically minded 80s film fans, it is one pretty sorry affair and one of the more embarassing genre films of the decade.

These films are not often known for having likeable casts, considering most have to be killed, but somehow(yet again!) this film manages to lure in the gorgeous Caroline Munro, who had already been featured in other sick flicks like Maniac(1980) that decade. Despite her beauty, it's just unbelievable that she's portraying a high school student, as she was 36(!) at the time of filming. This film is the poster boy for the casting of overage actors as teens, since nearly everyone appears to be reaching middle age, but that's not even the least of it's implausibilities. If you add in the phony accents and setting that tries to make us believe that the gloomy english countryside is really the United States, coupled with a truly asinine plot, helps make Slaughter High a real chore to get through.

The film begins with Caroline Munro leading a geek named Marty(Simon Scuddamore) into the showers so they can have sex. It's hard to blame the guy for going along with it, since Caroline is a total fox, even though he'll obviously be duped...and how! She is able to get the guy to strip down, while about a dozen or so kids, all armed with video equipment arrive(!) to videotape the whole thing. And before you can say, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we get a full frontal nude shot of the hapless geek, which I certainly didn't ask for. The kids all take pictures and one would think it would end there, but not for these psychopaths, who proceed to electrocute him(!) and give him a swirly(with some truly unflattering angles) before a coach arrives to stop them.
It dosen't end here, though, as Marty is given an exploding joint and has his chemistry experiment screwed up by one of the delinquents, who pull a truly hilarious prank on him, when the chem lab explodes and a bottle of nitric acid(conveniently placed on top of a rickety shelf that looks like it was constructed by the writers of this film) goes flying in his face, making him look like Claude Rains in The Phantom of the Opera(1943)!
The dude must be(rightfully) pissed, because as he is wheeled away in a gurney, he attempts to strangle Caroline Munro. Jumping ahead years later, Caroline now lives in a swanky place and argues with a producer on the phone(she's a star!) about not appearing in a trashy film(life imitating art?) and then proceeds to take a shower for one of the only good moments in the film, just too bad we don't see anything below her shoulders.

Caroline decides to attend a graduation party at her old high school, instead of making the movie and within minutes we are introduced to the same group of jerks and losers that we saw in the beginning, except not all older and more "mature." They certainly aren't smarter, as they arrive at the high school, which is already in full haunted house mode after six years(!) and no one seems to notice that no one else from the graduating class has shown up, including teachers and staff. After the caretaker is knocked off by some guy in a jester mask(gee, I wonder who that is?) and the gang begins getting drunk and stupid, the murders begin to pile up and none too subtly. They include a guy who drinks a poisoned beer, which causes his stomach to explode like in Alien(1979), a girl who decides to take a bath after getting splattered by her friend's blood(i'm not making this up) which leads to the cutie getting an acid bath, as well as two other stand-outs like a guy who gets crushed by a lawnmower(because fixing a lawnmower during a crisis makes so much sense) and a couple doing it, who get electrocuted. Predictably, only Caroline is left to fight the psycho as ineffectively as possible, dropping every weapon she comes across, before being corned in the shower where it all began, and being stabbed with a spear by, you guessed it, Marty!
The film ain't over yet, though, as Marty imagines all the victims rising from the grave and attacking en massem resembling extras from Dawn of the Dead(1979). However, that was also a dream, and Marty wakes up in a hospital, where he kills his nurse and dresses up as her, before planning his reign of terror. Spooky!

Slaughter High is a pretty terrible movie, overloaded not just with cliche, but also virtually no scares or substance to serve it. It's a nasty graphic film that may appeal to gorehounds, but even that is faint praise. Most of the deaths are so stupid in coming, that they fail to be creative or scary. The girl who gets melted is just mean and dumb, and may be the best two adjectives at summing up this movie. The characters are so hollow and silly that they fail as audience identification figures, including Caroline Munro, who is merely eye candy. The "prank" used on the geek in the beginning is so over the top, that it's impossible to root for any of the "teens" and one could only wish that the police would arrest them. However, even worse, is the fact that Marty is never that likeable, either. Empathy is there, because frankly, no one deserves that sort of treatment, but the character has so little depth or characterization and the plot does not serve the revenge motif well at all. If this film had been handled as tongue in cheek(the original title was April Fool's Day) chances are this would have been more successful, but instead it's a tepid and vacant film that will likely not even please fans of this genre.
Yes, the requisite gore and nudity is there and that's a plus for the exploitation crowd, craving such cheap fodder after the midnight hour, and while this film may amuse on that level, it could hardly warrant repeat viewings and stands as a badly made, inept picture and is a very forgettable 80s horror.

One thing that does stand the test of time is Caroline Munro. Enjoy.

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