After ruling horror for the early half of the decade, slashers had declined – in quality and success – by the latter half of the 80’s. Major slasher franchises, including Friday the 13th, were starting to run out of steam. And many of the later slasher movies were straight-to-video efforts. That’s not to say that there weren’t some hidden gems to be found here and there. Among these later, micro-budgeted movies, Slaughter High has managed to carve out a bit of a cult following. Part comedy, part horror, and all cheap, Slaughter High is a far cry from the subgenre’s best work. But is this high school revenge flick a cut above most of the straight-to-video dreck? Or is it just a bad movie?
Several years ago, the popular high school kids played a cruel prank on nerd, Marty. Though unintentional, the joke disfigured Marty and left him in a mental hospital. Now the same clique has come back together for their high school reunion. But something isn’t right. The school is abandoned and no one else has shown up. Soon a stranger in a jester’s mask is killing the ‘cool kids’ one by one. Has Marty escaped from the hospital, looking for his revenge?
Slaughter High So Dumb It Borders on Self-Parody
Maybe it was intentional. Or perhaps the writers accidentally struck gold. Regardless, Slaughter High is such a stupid movie that it’s almost self-parody. This is the kind of dumb movie you’d enjoy watching with friends and lots of beer. All the slasher tropes are here; they’re just very clumsily employed. Slaughter High’s ‘prank gone wrong’ is ridiculously convoluted. And when a character decides to take a bath immediately after seeing one of her friends die, you know you’re watching something special.
… Slaughter High is such a stupid movie that it’s almost self-parody.
Yet that may not even be the dumbest choice a character makes in the movie. Even knowing that a killer is stalking them, one couple still decides to take time out to have sex. Hey, I guess it’s a slasher movie and you need to get your quota of random nudity somehow. The less said about the dialogue, the better. And a killer wearing a jester’s mask with ringing bells doesn’t scream, ‘stealthy’.
Slaughter High Delivers Some Wild, Fun Low-Budget Kills
Asinine story and dirt-cheap production values aside, Slaughter High gets one thing right. In the tradition of the ‘Golden Era’ slasher, Slaughter High delivers some wildly fun kills and practical gore. Though you’ll have to sit through a lot of poor, unnecessary character banter, this cheapie flick satisfies once it gets down to business. One victim’s stomach bulges and splits open after he drinks beer laced with nitric acid. Another character’s flesh is burned away in acid-filled bath. And it gets better. Maybe the writers put all their creative energy into thinking up crazy ways to kill their cast. Watch for death scenes with a rider-lawnmower and an electrified bedspring. No, the effects aren’t fantastic, but they’re suitably gross and pack a wild, low–budget energy.
Where Slaughter High diverges from other cheapie slashers is its eccentric, wild tonal shift. For most of the movie’s runtime, Slaughter High hedges towards comedic horror, intentional or otherwise. Harry Manfredini’s recycled Friday the 13th score further hints that the filmmakers weren’t taking the project too seriously. But as the movie hits its final act, Slaughter High veers into some surreal, somewhat creepy territory. One of the final death scenes is surprisingly cruel given what preceded it. And the closing moments – while packing a silly twist – strike the same off-putting tone that Sleepaway Camp hit a few years earlier.
Long-in-the-Tooth Actors Makes Original 90210 Cast Look Like Real High School Students
Apparently, Slaughter High was a joint American-British production. Not surprisingly then, most of the cast sound like British actors trying to pass off American accents. All things considered, the spotty accents are the least of the movie’s problems. Horror fans will instantly recognize genre favourite, Caroline Munro. As for the remaining cast members, they’re all strictly amateur performers. And if you thought the cast of Beverly Hill 90210 looked too old to play high school students, these actors make them look like elementary school kids. Not that any of this really matters. No one is watching Slaughter High for highbrow acting. To be honest, the casting kind of adds to the movie’s low-budget charm. Sadly, Simon Scuddamore, who played Marty, committed suicide shortly after this movie .
Slaughter High Sits At The Top of the Straight-To-Video Bin
First, Slaughter High is not a good movie on an objective measure. There’s a long checklist of negatives to consider – amateur and miscast performers, no scares or suspense, an impractical killer design, early sluggish pacing, cheap production values, terminally stupid story, etc. Yet in spite of all its flaws, Slaughter High is very watchable. Like other cult films, Slaughter Eye exudes a certain vibe and veers just enough into the ‘laughably fun’ type of bad. And its sudden tonal shift and strange ending actually help this one stand out.