Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer of Slash: Slaughter High

For a slasher from 1986, Slaughter High is better than it has any right to be. And the reason may be because the film doesn’t take itself seriously at all and contains just enough slasher cheese to make the 80 minutes go by in a flash. Sure, the film’s production isn’t that great, and the actors (mostly Brits doing a Yank’s accent) are universally awful, but there are enough clichés at play here to make this one go down easier than most slashers that take themselves too seriously. What struck me most about Slaughter High was that despite the necessary later-era slasher requirements – boobs, booze, and blood – there’s actually a well constructed chase scene at the end and a pretty damn bizarre musical score that makes the film standout above its peers. It’s also kind of dark; I mean, yes there are requisite false scares and the plot is the old chestnut of the prank gone awry causing people to die ten years later at a reunion, but I was surprised by the end of the film. There are no survivors in this film, no Final Girl, and really no explanation as to why such a cheesy movie contains such a nihilistic ending. This inconsistent tone actually lends the film a bit of eeriness that it otherwise doesn’t seem too interested in establishing. It’s part April Fool’s Day and part legitimate slasher. Now, the big reveal at the end helps explain this tinge of nihilism, but I was still shocked when a movie that seemed so content on just being another light-hearted slasher affair (especially for 1986, an era in the subgenre where EVRYTHING had been done to death) ended with no female survivors, a doctor getting a syringe in the eye, and the killer staring into the camera while he peels a chunk of skin off of his face. Despite its uneven tone, Slaughter High is still a pretty good slasher that didn’t piss me off with its cop-out ending. Plus, the opening 45 minutes is definitely a great piece of cheese that makes for a wonderful pizza and beer movie.


  1. I'm quite curious about this one. Although I have to admit, the fact that the actor playing the killer committed suicide before the film was even released has always left a bit of a nasty aftertaste. I don't know if the film was a contributing factor in his death, but having seen some clips from it, especially the "humiliation scene" (which looks genuinely humiliating), I can't imagine it being a great experience if he was already in a difficult place.

    BTW, this is my first comment on your blog, even though I've been following it since your Italian Horror Blog-a-thon a few years back.

  2. First, thanks for leaving a comment. You should do it more often! Hehe. Second, I hope you return for the Italian Horror Blogathon this year. It should be a good one.

    Now, I purposefully omitted the part about the lead actor committing suicide because I wanted to keep the review short. In a longer review, I would have talked about it and the effect of horror movies, even seemingly small and insignificant ones like Slaughter High, have on the people who star in them.

    Again, thanks for the comment!

  3. I remember watching this one on TV late at night back in high school. I always remembered the electrocution scene and that final shock scare where he tears off his face.

    Watched it again a few months back and it holds up as quite the wacky horror movie still, especially the goofiness of the whole setup and the terrible acting.

    Looking forward to your CHEERLEADER CAMP thoughts :)

  4. God I just saw you'll be reviewing CHEERLEADER CAMP, long one of my guilty pleasures. It's a fun whodunnit piece of camp trash, complete with tons of nudity. It's also a laugh riot, can't wait.

    I've never seen SLAUGHTER HIGH, but it should arrive today or tomorrow from netflix so I will soon. Thanks for the heads up.

    You should add a double bill of SLAUGHTERHOUSE on name alone. It's one of my favorite 80's camp horror romps. So pretty cool kills (it actually contains my favorite probably in Horror).

    I just love that you talk about this trashy stuff...

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. The review should be up by Sunday.

    Troy: You forgot the moment where the guy drinks the beer and his stomach explodes a la Alien. Such a goofy special effect, but I was shocked they actually attempted such a thing for such a low-rent horror movie. Usually you don't see that kind of effort (I'm surprised they didn't just cut away and splatter fake blood on the onlookers' faces) for a b-level slasher like this one.

    Jamie: I need to see Slaughterhouse. Oh, and I love watching this stuff, so it's easy to talk about! Hehe.