Eye For Film >> Movies >> Slaughter High (1986) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
There is a longstanding trend in slasher films of having anti-hero killers and nonentity victims. In few such films, however, has the killer been as endearingly pathetic or the victims quite as unpleasant as in Slaughter High. Yet this doesn't do anything to reduce the alarm we feel at the latter's predicament, nor our sense of horror at what happens to them. It's an astutely balanced film, cleverer than it looks, despite its playful, comedic tone.
Simon Scuddamore is Marty, the archetypal nerd. Lured by the promise of sex with popular girl Carol (Caroline Munro, looking ten years too old and ten times too glamorous for the role), he becomes the victim of a series of viciously humiliating high school pranks. When one of these goes further than intended, resulting in a horrific Toxic Avenger style accident, Marty is damaged beyond repair both in body and in mind.
Skip forward a decade or so. It's time for a high school reunion - but, strangely, only a small number of pupils seem to have received invitations. Although one room is brightly decorated and stocked with tempting food and drink, most of the school is dark, deserted and, well, spooky. Something is not right. Before long events take a turn for the worse and they realise they're trapped. Marty is out for revenge.
Written in a desperate rush and filmed on a very low budget, Slaughter High is not the most professional of productions. Its death scenes are imaginative and gruesome yet often provoke more laughter than they really should. But this is a film that is aware of its limitations and never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously. In many ways it's doing the same things as Scream, a decade earlier, providing a postmodern perspective on the slasher genre, but its self-deprecating sense of humour makes it much more likeable, much less smug.
There's more character to these victims than is often the case. Munro exudes snooty disdain, keeping her white trouser suit spotless as blood splashes around her. As sporting champion Skip, Carmine Iannaccone is friendly, slightly daft, easy to like, then switches in an instant to a raging bully - the sort of character we probably all encountered at some point in childhood. There's also a great turn from Donna Yeager as Stella, ready to take advantage of the chaos to cheat on her husband with the guy she always fancied, though they're practically clones of each other. The tensions within the group are neatly developed and the resulting comedy, whilst broad, is nicely judged.
Slaughter High is cheap, tacky, formulaic and often in poor taste, but many fans of the genre will love it, especially if watching in a group with a few beers to help wash it down.Reviewed on: 09 Jun 2011
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