Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Slaughter High (1986)
Everyone knows that the eighties were the golden age of the slasher film, but few outside of the genera fan club seem to realize why this was and mistakenly attribute it to the handful of iconic slasher villains that rose to the top of the pack, some of whom continue to make occasional appearances on the big screen. Fans, however, have always known that this semi-official distinction has more do with the volume of titles that came out at that time and less to do with the amount of camp counselors killed on the shores of Crystal Lake, or the babysitters gutted in Haddonfield, or the sleepless nights on Elm Street, though these tragedies did play a big role. In fact, when compared with the number of films that came out during that decade, the three series described above only made up a small percentage of the movies released, most of which came and went quicker than a virgin in a brothel. Slaughter High, which was released in 1986 and for a while titled April Fools Day, was one of these many titles, titles which fans can now easily get a hold of thanks to the many online movie rental membership plans the Internet provides (though I have to admit, I sometimes miss the video store hunts I used to go on, ones where I would visit three or four different locations in search of a little known title).
Slaughter High is the story of a young man named Marty who takes revenge on some classmates at a five year (???) high school reunion because of a series of April Fool’s Day jokes that went a little out of control -- ones that not only involved some nasty girls locker room humiliation while completely naked and in front of a video camera, but also being poisoned to the point of vomiting by what he thought was a peace offering joint, and then mistakenly burned with both fire and acid, the latter of which was stupidly perched precariously high on a wobbly shelf. Now, from the beginning the idiots invited to the high school reunion should have known there was something amiss about the reunion since they were the only ones to show up at the locked, rundown school in the middle of nowhere. Rather than going into town to see if anyone has any idea what is going on, however, they break into the school and find a room set up just for them, one which just happens to have all their old lockers in it, along with Marty’s, who isn’t there, or, at least, doesn’t appear to be there. Unconcerned, the group starts to enjoy themselves, all of them partaking in the food and beverages laid out, but then things take a nasty turn when one guy chugs a beer that blows his stomach apart, the contents obviously having been replaced with an acid like chemical. Startled, most of the group runs away and tries to get out of the building leaving one girl behind who would rather go in search of a bathtub to clean herself off than escape. Once a tub is found the girl takes a nice sensual bath, but then dies a horrible death when the water suddenly turns to acid and melts her in a gruesome skin peeling display. After that the group members continue to meet their deaths one by one as they stupidly split up time and time again even though they know Marty is out to get them, their hope being that this twisted April Fool’s Day joke will end soon and that Marty will let the survivors go free. Yeah, good luck with that.
Slaughter High is one of the lesser quality slasher films from the eighties, one that didn’t seem to have a problem with cannibalizing other successful storylines (and soundtracks) and blending them together into its own weakly developed idea. That said the film did offer some unique death scenes, ones which made me wince and cover my eyes several times (lawnmower scene in particular), and also made me glad that I never took a naked nerd into the girls locker room and shoved his head into the toilet because I have a reunion myself coming up. All in all, however, nothing about this movie really makes it stand out, especially when put up against the classics of the decade, and the only reason I would recommend watching it is so one can get the full effect of what the slasher era was like. The movie also wouldn’t be bad if a group of friends got together and wanted something to watch that they could poke fun at, because, if nothing else, this one offers up plenty of inconsistencies that are easy to spot, ones which just make you wonder if the entire project was completed on its first take and then released without being screened. It also provides viewers the pleasure of seeing some of the stupidest characters in slasher film history, two of whom actually go and have sex despite all their friends being murdered around them -- girl’s husband included -- only to be killed right at the moment of orgasm. Actually, thinking about it, maybe they are the smartest of the group because if you are going to die what better way than at that particular moment, right?