Directed by: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra and Peter Litten
Written by: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra and Peter Litten
Starring: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore, Carmine Iannaccone, Donna Yeager, Gary Martin, Billy Hartman and Michael Safran
“We’ll take my car. It starts every time!” – Carol
Nerd Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is the victim of a particularly vicious prank initiated by Carol (Caroline Munro) and several of her friends. The gang is summoned to an extra gym session as punishment and that propels them to further stick it to Marty…with disastrous results for Marty.
Fast forward ten years and Carol and the gang get an invitation to a 10-year reunion at their high school. At first it seems that the old school building is completely abandoned but once they get inside, they start falling prey to a maniac on the grounds. It seems that Marty is back, and he wants some payback.
“Slaughter High” arrived at the tail end of the slasher craze when most of these flicks were completely devoid of original ideas and creativity. They were having a tougher time getting financing, were cutting corners in all areas and many simply disappeared into oblivion. This particular title had a decent enough VHS shelf life and it’s cool cover was too tempting for many adolescents at the video store and thus it became a modest little sleeper hit. It’s non-existent plot is actually a plus as there’s no lame attempt at a left-field out-of-the-blue gotcha! moment save for the last reel when a…let’s not spoil it here but…
- Spoiler alert –
…there’s a possible twist in that everything that happens takes place in the imagination of Marty’s deranged mind after everything he went through…
- End of spoiler –
“Slaughter High” is as basic as it gets and once inside the school after dark the gang meet various grisly ends that are actually somewhat imaginative and reasonably suspenseful. But make no mistake; this is for slasher aficionados only as most won’t be able to look past the amateurish acting, the cringe worthy dialog and the non-sensical behaviour of everyone involved. Lack of funds prevents any kind of polished look and the hazy daylight photography is really an eye sore but night time scenes fare a lot better. Although fairly suspenseful in the kill moments the film lacks any kind of feel for pacing and despite a short running time it’s awfully padded in the final third with a showdown that’s very long but with very little actually happening.
But this is where us fans come to the rescue and actually sit down and submit ourselves (more than once…twice…etc.) to the wonder that is low-fi slashers. There are few pluses here;
It’s got Caroline Munro! The British actress has at least two classics under her belt (“The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” and “The Spy Who Loved Me”) and a number of cult classics; best of which is the indefensible “Star Wars” rip-off “Starcrash” (1978) that’s a complete hoot from start to finish; and she is quite the knock-out beauty and has quite a presence. Her acting abilities are maybe not in the top tier but she’s game for everything and delivers a spirited performance no matter the material (for instance; at 37 years old playing a very unconvincing teenager in the opening 15 minutes or so).
The flick is very mean spirited and opens with a prank that’s so distasteful and shocking that viewers immediately want these bullies to get their just comeuppance. Marty gains viewer sympathy (and is actually fairly well played by Scuddamore who tragically took his own life shortly after filming was completed) and there’s really no sugar coating the bullies. Although there’s a hint of regret from some of them years later there’s no attempt made at justifying their actions and their ultimate fate is…therefore…quite just.
The kills are fairly good. The good news for slasher fans is that some kills here are a definite highlight (electrocution in bed, stomach exploding due to acid, a body dissolves in acid etc.) and here’s where the real talent went.
There’s also a fairly long portion of the film drenched in night time scenes in the abandoned school building that builds up a fair bit of tension. That doesn’t detract from the fact that these characters make unusually stupid decisions but it’s amazing how far the “the old creepy house and the maniac inside” scenario can take a film completely devoid of creativity in storytelling.
To sum up; mainstreamers need not apply but slasher addicts may just find this little flick worth their time. The main theme song alone is worth it for many of us 😊
“Slaughter High” was issued on Blu-ray late in 2017 by Vestron Video. The label has put forth some genuine cult items (“Chopping Mall” (1986) is a real gem) and their editions always sport decent A/V quality along with a healthy selection of special features. “Slaughter High” is no exception and has an audio commentary, interesting interviews with Munro and co-director Ezra and more (trailer, radio spots, still gallery etc.). It’s recommended for those interested.
Why physical copy?
I always encourage the acquisition of physical copies as I dread the day when films will only exist as files on computers and through streaming services. The companies that put the effort into making the discs, create new artwork or reproduce the originals, issue booklets and much more deserve all the financial support they can. Therefore, I will always mention the Blu-rays or DVD’s (and yes; also, if I review something streamed through Netflix or the like) even though I gain nothing from it personally.