Slaughter High (George Dugdale/Mark Ezra/Peter Mackenzie Litten, 1986)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
slaughter high cover
A group of former high school “cool kids” are lured back to their old Alma mater under the guise of a class reunion. Soon they discover something is not quite right and fear that the school nerd they almost tortured to death may be behind the ruse… with murderous intent.
vlcsnap-2013-02-27-18h55m34s153I hate it when directors don’t take the material seriously… especially when it’s to the detriment of a project that otherwise has plenty of potential. Enter Slaughter High – a stereotypical 80s slasher film crammed full of campy dialogue, gratuitous nudity and gore, and a plot (lifted almost completely from 1978’s The Redeemer: Son of Satan) with more holes than a Swedish gangbang. Sounds good, you say? For the most part it is. It’s that aforementioned lack of respect for the genre that keeps it from being great. Don’t get me wrong… the slasher subgenre is in and of itself not generally taken seriously – these films are supposed to be fun, not thought-provoking works of art. Where I take exception is when it feels like I’m being made fun of for watching the film to begin with. Like the concept of teens getting systematically slaughtered is such a heinous and dark concept that the only way to keep my fragile little mind from breaking is to inject gobs of levity into the storyline. In my not so humble opinion horror and comedy should never be combined at length.
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Slaughter High starts typically with a group of the socially accepted kids being complete fucking assholes to Marty, one of the nerds at school under the guise of an April Fool’s prank (the film was intended to be titled April Fool’s Day, but the producers changed it to avoid conflict with Paramount’s film of the same name that was slated for release the same year – this film is the better of the two, hands down). Predictably, the joke goes too far and needless to say the motivation for revenge is set and the dumb fucks get lured, trapped and butchered one by one for our amusement. Now admittedly, the first time I saw Slaughter High the tape was cut to shit – not a drop of blood was spared the censor’s scissors and, if I recall correctly, most of the nudity was missing as well. What are we left with? A bunch of bad actors stumbling around dark corridors to be met with essentially screen wipes to other unrelated scenes. My opinion of the movie was incomplete and resultingtly poor. Now having sat through the film in its uncut glory has certainly raised my opinion of Slaughter High – if only marginally. Vestron Video initially released it in a completely neutered theatrical version as well as in its original uncut glory – why could I not live near any decent video stores? No, really… this poses a really interesting question… why on earth would a retailer ever order the censored version of a movie when the uncut one was readily available? Sex and violence sells! Fuck you, censorship!
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Anyway, the cast is made up of mostly nobodies with a couple exceptions – those being the oft-bitchy Caroline Munro (Dracula A.D. 1972; Maniac) and Dick Randall (producer of Pieces and Four Times That Night) who has a cameo as her sleazy film producer. Not surprisingly, the acting here is absolutely atrocious and that includes Ms. Munro. Ironically, Simon Scuddamore (who played Marty) committed suicide shortly after production wrapped.
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The dialogue is stilted, awkward, juvenile, trying too hard to be funny, and delivered with the enthusiasm of an 80 year old whore. Thankfully, Slaughter High makes up for these transgressions in the violence/gore/nudity department. The gore effects are very well done and the kills are over the top and imaginative without being ridiculous (the evisceration scene alone I’m sure made the censors shit egg rolls).  The sets are decent but misleading – one would assume going into a film called Slaughter High that they would be treated to campus coeds getting stalked and killed in those hallowed halls… and they are – but the place looks more like a haunted house than a high school. Plenty of shots of our victims wandering around the ruined darkened corridors of the abandoned building are claustrophobic and lend an almost unsettling feel to the film, until the next wise crack or nonsensical bit of blathering takes you right out of it. There’s nothing here that seasoned slasher fans haven’t seen dozens of times… masked killer hunts down victims one by one as they decide to split up, bathe (!?!), and/or have sex despite the situation etc. etc. Slaughter High does try to be original (this was made in the tail end of the slasher boom after all) with an unconventional ending that is both ridiculous and amusing and despite personally not caring for it should be awarded an “A” for effort.
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The film score was composed by Harry Manfredini who clearly couldn’t be bothered and just sent along some pieces he used on the Friday the 13th films (it’s very nearly identical). While I found it amusing watching these scenes set to Manfredini’s all-too-familiar orchestral meanderings, but couldn’t figure out if it was supposed to be an in-joke or not. I’m chalking it up to laziness. Indeed it seems like everybody is phoning it in here – hell, the movie even has three directors credited.
In essence Slaughter High is an adequate waste of time if you don’t mind being talked down to a bit and just wanna see titties and gore.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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