Here's a real gem. The results of this film haven't even come forth yet and I'm already writing this review - something I don't do often but Slaughter High is so unbearably retarded I couldn't help myself. This movie is a prime example of why people roll their eyes when they hear the word "Slasher" in regards to a horror movie. Let's discuss what I mean a bit more in depth.
Slaughter High was directed by a man by the name of George Dugdale. Oh, you aren't familiar huh? Well...neither is the rest of America. I'm sure someone my age, maybe even a little bit older, has tribute videos uploaded to Youtube marking Dugdale's cinematic excellence - maybe even laughing at me in a mocking tone from the seat of their expensive arm chair. Slaughter High marked the beginning of George's directing/writing debut; Living Doll, released in 1990, would be his last. Clearly someone's resume matters very little to me but in this case it's apparent why he ceased his efforts in pursuing a career in the movie business. As much as I hate to admit it, I plan on watching and reviewing Dugdale's other film sometime in the future.
The premise involves a group of highschool students who prey upon their "nerdy" classmate, Marty. As with most pranks things quickly turn sour; Marty is horribly disfigured. Ten years have passed and the graduates of Doddsville County Highschool attend a class reunion; the invitation sent by someone unknown. What follows next are unimaginative deaths, poor acting, and ridiculous gimmicks. Make no mistake; this was not intended to be a comedy. The production in general is on par with 1983's Sleepaway Camp...it lacks the same type of charm, unfortunately, and I wouldn't sit up watching this on a continuous loop from 10 pm to 6 am (like I have with Sleepaway Camp).
So what does Slaughter High have to offer? I'll break it down for you:
1.) The most stock-sounding soundtrack you could ever imagine. The person responsible for "arranging" the "musical" score must've been held at knifepoint with his/her family stashed away and held hostage in a warehouse. I feel foolish for using a sophisticated term like "score." I'm going to stop now.
2.) I've already set the bar for what could be the worst acting I've ever seen (The Howling VII), but I'd categorize this in the top ten list of awfulness. There is nothing, and I mean nothing even remotely reminiscent of talent displayed here; it's uninspiring. I'm left feeling as if I should stop all of my current activities and stare at a blank wall for 5 hours.
3.) Silly looking effects so abundant you'll be shaking your head. Are they special? No, they suck...even by 80's standards. The death sequences barely make sense if you consider the laws of physics. Do disfigured human beings all of the sudden possess an uncanny amount of strength when they seek vengeance? Dumb.
4.) Way too many false suspense moments. It's no surprise that this is a standard cliche in Slashers. A character is startled by an innocent sound or another character playing a joke...yes, we've seen it way too many times. Unfortunately, Slaughter High does it with such arrogance that it cheapens any attempt at a real scare. There's no buildup to make you feel foolish for being startled...it just happens with no effect whatsoever. Great job.
4.) The ending is the only somewhat-satisfactory moment. It's one of those endings that could only exist in this genre...and consequently, only in the 80's....
Movies throughout the 1980's desperately tried to replicate the success of classic titles - Bob Clark's (Deathdream and Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things respectively) 1974 release, Black Christmas...John Carpenter's Halloween from 1978, and Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th in 1980. I consider these The Big Three. Fans of the genre discuss the origins of the Slasher sub-division dating all the way back to 1960, with Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho...everything has a starting point. Slaughter High, unfortunately, is just another low-budget pile of garbage with sub-standard acting. It should barely be mentioned in anyone's list.