Grindhouse Weekly: SLAUGHTER HIGH

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Naturally, with Halloween coming up in just a few days, we picked a film that takes place on April Fools’ Day for this week’s Grindhouse Weekly- 1986’s Slaughter High.  Much like Cloud Atlas, this campy Friday the 13th clone featured such an epic and demanding story that it required three directors (George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten) to bring it to the big screen.  April Fools, this was terrible.  Fun, but terrible.

The film opens at a high school on April Fools’ Day, that wonderful day of the year when bullies can be even bigger bullies.  A group of teens decides to play a prank on the resident dork, by hatching an elaborate scheme to humiliate him in the worst ways they can think of.  They begin by getting the hot girl to seduce him into the girls bathroom.  She gets him to disrobe, then they turn on the shower, open the curtain, film him being naked, spray him with a fire extinguisher, electrocute him on a towel rack, then give him a swirly.

The victims AKA the biggest assholes in the world.
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The victims AKA the biggest assholes in the world.

As if that weren’t enough, they then give him a poison joint to smoke while he’s working with dangerous chemicals in the science lab.  After the poison joint, they pour a mysterious powder in some chemicals which starts a fire. While he’s trying to put it out, a large bottle of acid falls off a wobbly shelf onto his face, burning and disfiguring him beyond recognition.  The funniest thing about this sequence was the fact that someone made the decision to store the giant bottles of corrosive acid on the top of a wobbly shelf.  This was just the first of many poor decisions made throughout the events of Slaughter High.

Flash forward ten years and the gang of pranksters get an invitation to come to their high school reunion.  Upon arriving they realize they were the only ones invited and the killing begins.  As it turns out Marty, the tormented nerd, has returned to exact revenge for what they did to him, and for good reason.

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Giant bottle of acid on high wobbly shelf: check.

He rigs up the school with booby traps that seem to spring all on their own, with acid coming out of the faucets, blood erupting from toilets, and light bulbs spontaneously exploding.  None of this makes any logical sense, but it’s fun to watch nonetheless.

The group decides to split up at every possible opportunity, which frequently makes it easy for Marty to pick them off one by one, in similar fashion to how they humiliated him.  The first fellow dies by shotgunning a beer that contains poison, and his stomach explodes.

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One girl decides to take a bath after getting a face full of blood splatter (there are bathtubs in schools?) and the water turns to acid.  Rather than immediately leave the tub she decided to just sit there and scream until it killed her.  One couple gets electrocuted while having sex, because why not have sex when everyone around you is dying?

Despite these hilariously ridiculous death scenes, the absolute worst part of the film comes at the end when the viewer discovers that everything that happened wasn’t exactly real.  I’ll spare the specifics of how it ends, but it was a total cop out, as if the directors were trying to say “Look, we know that everything you just saw was completely stupid and unbelievable, but guess what? It was all imaginary so that justifies it.”

The thing is, Slaughter High is still an enjoyable slasher film to watch however.  All these inconsistencies and plot holes make it more humorous, and Marty’s Jester mask alone seems like the filmmakers are asking you to not take this thing too seriously.

The kills are fairly gory and creative, and the effects work is solid for a low-budget horror flick from the 80s.  If you’re in the market for a silly by the numbers slasher flick, this one is worth checking out, simply on a so bad it’s good level.