In the pantheon of Movies About High School In Which the Actors Are Much Too Old, Slaughter High rules supreme -- at least in our experience. The actors in Grease were pretty darn ancient, and the second and third Prom Night movies featured actors who were no spring chickens, but Slaughter High needs an alternate title: Slaughter Nursing Home.
Our prime exhibit in this case is Caroline Munro. Yes, that Caroline Munro. Munro, who was something of a sex object in the early Seventies, returns to the screen as a teenaged vixen in this film, which was made in 1986. Given that Munro was born in 1950, those of you who can do math now know that she was wrong for the role by not one but two decades. The payment on Munro's boat must have been due, because we feel sure that her appearance in this film as a sixteen year-old girl violates not only laws of good filmmaking, but also some primal laws of the universe. Watching a former star in her mid-Thirties interact with amateur actors in their late twenties, all of them pretending to be in their teens -- it's enough to reduce a movie lover to tears.
Their school was so poor they
had to buy their lockers second-hand.
But on with the show. Munro's character, Carol, is part of The Bad Crowd. All schlock horror fans are familiar with The Bad Crowd -- they're the kids who spend all their time torturing the poor hapless souls who also inhabit the school. And yet somehow these are also the people who end up in the yearbook as the Popular Kids. Yeah, right. Like real high school is like that.
Hey, waitaminnit, real high school was exactly like that! Chalk one up for the schlock horror filmmakers, they have a believable setup for the Prank Gone Wrong scenario. (Hmmm, we seem to be encountering a lot of those Capitalized Movie Cliches in this review.) Thus we spend the first twenty minutes of the film watching the pathetic Marty (Simon Scuddamore) endure the torture of Carol's clique. Carol lures Marty into the girls' locker room, coaxes him out of his clothes, and then lets the rest of the gang in to taunt the poor cad in his state of undress. Then they grab him and -- well, the technical term is a "swirly," but we shan't elaborate.
"I dunno Doc, this acne medication
doesn't seem to be helping at all!"
The clique is caught in the act by the gym coach, who punishes them through exercise. Even at the "advanced" age of thirty-six, it's a pleasure to watch Munro do push-ups. The bad kids, angered at Marty -- who is, after all, responsible for their predicament (huh?) -- engineer yet another prank to teach him a lesson. Through a protracted and complicated series of events, Marty ends up being simultaneously splashed with acid and burned horribly in a chemistry lab fire as a result. They sure taught him.
If you've seen Carrie or any of the other Prank Gone Wrong films, you know what happens next: awful, awful revenge. In this case, Marty waits five years before calling upon his old buddies again. Anonymously luring the gang back to the soon-to-be demolished school building with the promise of a reunion party ("I didn't send those invitations -- I thought you did!"), Marty exacts his demented retribution by the most hideous -- not to mention ludicrous -- means available.
Insert your own Aliens joke here.
He is able to do this because people in horror films are utterly stupid. They do what people in the real world would never, ever do in a psycho killer situation. They leave each other alone. They take baths. They crawl under riding mowers, ostensibly to "fix them up" and ride away to safety at five miles an hour. They have sex. But most of all, they leave each other alone. If they had all just stuck together and walked away from the school building, Marty could never have slaughtered them in the bizarre and complicated fashion that psycho killers dearly love. If he had an Uzi, sure. But what good are his bathtub-which-fills-with-acid or his electrified bed frame against potential victims with an ounce of sense?
Yes you read the descriptions of those kiling methods correctly. There are more deaths in Slaughter High, and all of them are amusingly Rube Goldberg-esque. The best one involves a can of beer that causes the drinker to explode. No, the beer isn't O'Doul's, it's poisoned.
After the requisite horror movie Scene Where the Psycho Chases the Last Survivor Through Long Hallways, the movie reveals itself to be a dream that Marty was having, apparently right after he was taken to the hospital after the acid incident. So what was the point of the film? We're not sure. And if the It Was All A Dream ending isn't confusing enough, the film ends with a little coda that we just couldn't figure out. We shouldn't complain too much about the script, because it's obvious that what meager resources this movie had went to the gore scenes, not the writing.
For those horror buffs who will undoubtedly e-mail us to share the news: Yes, we know that Mr. Scuddamore committed suicide shortly after Slaughter High was released. Since we couldn't find out much else about it, though, we decided not to talk about it in the review, since it doesn't really relate to the film itself. Go back!