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From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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11 September, 2010

Junkyardfilm.com's Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month: SLAUGHTER HIGH


Year of Release—Film:  1986

Marty, a glasses-wearing nerd, becomes the butt of some high school bullies who decide to lure him into the girl's locker room with promises of a sexual encounter with one of the popular girls.  Marty declares this is the best April Fool's Day birthday present he's ever gotten as he quickly peels off his clothes.  Enter the school bullies who give the now-nude boy a swirly in the toilet while others laugh and film his torment.  Caught in mid-frivolity by the boy's coach, all eight of our merry pranksters are ordered to do detention in the gym after school that day.  Infuriated, they decide that this is all Marty's fault and he must be punished.  Acting apologetic, the teens offer a joint that he stupidly accepts, not knowing hat it's been altered with some nausea-inducing drugs.  As Marty makes a dash to the boy's toilet, one kid sneaks in and messes with Marty's lab experiment.  Back from the bathroom, a sickened Marty takes up his experiment again only to spill some on the gas line to the Bunsen burner and starting a fire.  Flailing around, he knocks a large bottle of nitric acid down from its high perch...right onto his own face as the fire explodes out of control, trapping him in the inferno.

Fast forward five years as our now-adult pranksters receive high school reunion invitations in the mail.  All eight decide to go.  Little do they realize that their old high school is shuttered and empty, waiting the wreaking ball.  Arriving after dark at the shuttered and dark high school, they decide to break in to look around for old time's sake.  Once inside, they are stunned to find one room lit, food and drinks on display.  Also in the room are their old lockers.  Slowly it begins to dawn on the dimwit eight that there are nine lockers...and one belongs to Marty!  But, where was Marty?  After the tragic 'accident', he was horribly disfigured by the fire and nitric acid and never returned to school.  Facial grafts refused to heal and he was committed to a mental institution where he remains to this day.

Deciding not to let this ancient 'accident' harsh their buzz, all settle down, having a good time, drinking beer and smoking dope.  One of our now drunk partiers takes a challenge to shotgun a beer when suddenly his stomach explodes, spraying his cheering friends with his insides!  Horrified, they all run off in different directions.  One recipient of the now dead friend's guts decides to take a bath to wash off the gore but quickly finds herself writhing in pain and screaming as the water from the faucet turns into nitric acid.  Seeing their friends offed one at a time, the surviving six seek a way out of the locked down school but it's too late.  Barred from leaving by more conventional means, one jock decides to repair an old lawn tractor in order to break down the doors.  But, his Mr. Fix-It routine is quickly ended as the whirling blades of the tractor are lowered onto his chest, killing him.

One by one, our unsuspecting pranksters begin to die horrible deaths by electrocution, acid baths, javelins, hatchets and lawnmower blades.  Toilets cough up blood and lights mysteriously turn themselves off and on as the terrified adults desperately try to find a way to escape the locked building and the rage of the unknown madman!

Meanwhile, the unfortunate man's wife and the man's best buddy, not knowing of the husband's death, decide on a little horizontal sack time where they are quickly dispatched by electrical cords attached to the metal headboard.  The three remaining chums run off in different directions just as a latecomer to the party arrives.  She never makes it inside the building, dispatched by a jester mask-wearing man.  The last two remaining females meet and, for some reason, decide to re-visit the gristly scenes where their friends met their ends.  Only there are no signs of struggle or death at any of them!  Thoroughly frightened, one grabs a hatchet and, thinking the approaching footsteps are the masked killer, plunges it into the face of the last remaining male friend.  Huddling on the steps, they comfort themselves with the belief that April Fool's Day ends at noon and, if they make it to that hour, they will survive.

However, her nerves stretched to the breaking point, one girl panics and runs to the girl's locker room as the other one is dispatched by the mask-wearing maniac.  Alone, hiding in a shower stall, she waits anxiously for the masked killer to arrive.  When he does, he removes the mask to reveal a horribly disfigured face.  It's Marty!  And, as the clock ticks away the last moment before noon, Marty enacts his final revenge.

But wait!  Instead of the credit crawl, we are stunned to see Marty back in the hospital, dreaming all of this!  A nurse, hearing Marty's shouts, comes in to give him an injection.  Instead, Marty strangles the nurse and plunges the hypodermic into a doctor's eye.  It's all been a horrible dream!  Or is it a premonition?  The end.
God bless the 80's slasher movies, with the thin plots and outrageous killings that packed theaters with teens eager to see others of their ilk slaughtered in grisly ways!  What makes this stand alone from the other 80's slasher movies is it's wooden acting and stilted delivery.  That's because it was filmed in England with the actors mimicking American accents.  And, because of their cruelty to a teenaged Marty, you really can't dredge up much sympathy for them as they are killed off one by one.

The paper-thin plot does little to cover up that fact that they are all idiots.  Who else would go to an abandoned building in the middle of the night expecting a class reunion?  And, why would they just consume food and drinks from some unknown patron without suspicion?  All the actors appear years beyond high school age, especially the beautiful ex-Bond actress, Carolyn Munro, who was 36 when this was filmed.  Marty, played by Simon Scuddamore, is the only believable actor in this and sadly he committed suicide shortly before this film's premier.

Legendary exploitation producer Dick Randall's cameo appearance in this as a porn producer with a poster of his brilliant movie PIECES hanging on the wall only serves to point out SLAUGHTER HIGH's low-budget atrociousness.  The score by Harry Manfredini is recycled FRIDAY THE 13TH.  The directing was uneven and some scenes meant to be atmospheric came off as sluggish.  Originally, this film was to be titled APRIL FOOL'S DAY but, fearing a lawsuit with Paramount who had just released their own movie titled APRIL FOOL'S DAY, they wisely changed the title to SLAUGHTER HIGH.  It was released in England with it's original title.

Somehow, despite it's obvious flaws and jaw-dropping "HUH!?!" ending, it's still a fun, fun film!  It's an entertaining good and gory time when viewed through 1980's eyes.  And, it's a reminder to us all not to pick on the high school dweeb!


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