*Last post for 2013, I swear. Sorry about the length*
35. Slaughter High – 5.0/3.5 (ratings for myself, then everyone else). There is a prologue, I bolded the paragraph that starts the movie review. This one was a doozy for me, here's why:
Alright, I will need to go way back on this one. So, I spent most of my life staying away from horror movies. I was exposed to some pretty gnarly ones at an early age, and the experience had a lasting impact. When I was younger, I had an overactive imagination and believed that the stuff I was seeing was actually possible (not real, in the sense that the movie was a documentary, but that something like this was happening or had happened to someone somewhere, sometime). I distinctly remember holding a belief when I was very young that all the people who died in movies were either robots, or people who wanted to die. So, they volunteered to be in the movie as part of a mutually-beneficial arrangement for the victim and the people making the movie. My wife actually turned this aversion around for me by getting me familiar with some of the more standard series (F13, Halloween, Nightmare, etc). My love for special effects, and the excitement I felt at watching the stuff that used to scare the crap out of me drew me back in, and now I have a tolerance for movies that go way beyond the point my wife is willing to watch.
Flash-forward to a few years ago: I was watching an episode from the second season of Tales From The Crypt and I unexpectedly ran across a couple scenes that had a huge impact on me when I was younger. I was at my friend’s house and we were flipping through channels. In the course of doing this, we happened to see both of these scenes independently, and I had no recollection of them being part of the same show: One was the type of scene I had mentioned above – alarmingly violent. It involved Tia Carrere getting her head smashed into a pillar repeatedly. (Tangent: the other scene was impactful in that it was incredibly informative of the mechanics of female anatomy. It involved a long shot from above where a classy gentleman was atop his mistress thrusting in a very distinct front-to-back motion, rather than straight up-and-down…light bulbs went off (in my mind)). Anyway, that got me thinking back to some of the other scenes from lesser-known movies that had a major impact on me. I was talking to a buddy at work about it and we ended up Googling a movie with a killer who wears a jester mask and is named Marty. Bingo – Slaughter High.
I was at a babysitter’s house during the day in the summertime when this movie was playing. I cannot for the life of me figure out why it was on. There was no one in the house who was old enough to watch it, other than the sitter. I remember being freaked out about it and leaving the room, then coming back to see if it was over and bearing witness to a grisly murder. This happened over-and-over again. The more I read the description, the less convinced I was that everything I remembered came from the same movie (similar to how my mind was dissociative of the two scenes mentioned above). “Eight different people are invited to their 10-year high school reunion at their now-closed down high school where a former student, disfigured from a prank gone wrong, is there to seek revenge.”
I remembered a lawnmower murder, a hanging in a garage, someone taking a bath, someone drowning outside during the day, newspaper clippings notifying who was next, etc. If people are getting murdered at their reunion, why are they sticking around for several days, especially if the school is closed down? It was all blended together like a fever-dream, and it didn’t make any sense.
Well, I was walking through Best Buy last summer when one of those 8-pack horror sets snagged me by the eyeball. Bottom-center of the cover was a tile with an image for Slaughter High. It was on sale for $7.99, which was a no-brainer. The set also included Waxwork, which I was told was worth the price on its own. The guy at the register freaked out about it and pulled a “Target Lady” on me when he ran over to grab the last copy off the shelf and save it until his shift was over.
So, finally on to the movie
: I had to give it a double rating since most people probably won’t view it the same way I did, unless they were also traumatized as a youngster. If you were, PM me, maybe we can go get a coffee sometime and talk about it…I actually did have anxiety associated with starting up the movie, but I was also pretty excited, because overcoming that anxiety is what has made horror movies so enticing to me. Overall, it added a lot to the experience. My wife’s experience was also enhanced, because every time something gruesome happened, she couldn’t help but to think of a young me being exposed to it. It was like trying to enjoy an R-rated movie in the theater when someone shows up with their 5-year old. It was an emotional rollercoaster for her, but at least she could take solace in knowing that I eventually got over it and turned out normal (-ish).
The whole movie came together well. Everything I remembered made sense as far as the plot was concerned, and it was all there. I hadn’t even overbuilt the murder scenes in my mind. Most of them were not as long as I remembered, but the detail was the same. This is actually why I rate this movie fairly high for the general public, as far as 2nd-tier slasher films from the ‘80s are concerned. They really went over the top to please everyone. There is a melty death, there are gory deaths, and there are straightforward slasher-style deaths. Some of them are simple; some are drawn out with complex machinations. I also found the killer to be very practical. Is that beefy fellow bench pressing the riding mower you just started up? Slash his arms a little – make him drop it on himself.
Also, they stuck with a general theme and took it to the extreme, which I respect. Similar to how Sleepaway Camp
, Slaughter High did the same thing with bullying. We had watched several movies last October that had bullying in them, and they actually happened to be more recent releases (Carrie and Let Me In stand out in my mind, but I feel like there may have been another). But, Slaughter High took it to a much further extreme than any of the others we watched. They took what could’ve been a run-of-the-mill revenge-fantasy horror movie with some people getting cut and stabbed with some knives and stuff and got creative with it, which elevated the movie for me. You really wanted those A-holes to get their comeuppance, and it paid off
. However, aside from this, it still has all the normal pitfalls of occasional weak acting, a fairly loose plot, etc (“We only have to survive until noon. Everyone knows April Fool’s Day ends at noon!”). I don’t expect it to be a life changing experience for everyone. But, if you like ‘80s horror, and are used to looking past the typical flaws that go along with it, you will probably enjoy this film.
If you read through all of that, I thank you for taking the time. You now know me intimately; please try to not make eye contact, and let’s never speak of this again.