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Varsity Blood is an Homage to ’80s Horror

Varsity Blood

Varsity Blood centers on a high school cheerleading squad and football team that take to an abandoned farmhouse for a Halloween celebration. They plan to screw, smoke drugs, and paint the town red. What they are not expecting is a ruthless killer dressed as their school mascot crashing their bitchin’ party. The killer knows that the members of the varsity squad helped cover up a murder the year before and is intent upon making the young athletes pay for what they’ve done…with their lives!

Varsity Blood is far from perfect but it gets a lot of things right. It is surprisingly funny for a low-budget horror film that has flown largely under the radar until recently.

As far as originality, there is not a lot of it in Varsity Blood. The film is comprised of a lot of ‘80s slasher movie clichés set to a modern backdrop but what saves the picture from being totally derivative or plain unwatchable is the fact that its characters are well scripted, animated, and witty.

The acting in Varsity Blood is not great but the film is full of fast-talking dialogue that makes it much more memorable than it ought to be. Varsity Blood is rife with amusing exchanges between its colorful cast of characters, like: “Welcome to Hell, ShitHeads.

Another component that makes up for the sometimes-wooden acting in Varsity Blood is the utter zealousness with which the performances are delivered. The campiness is undeniably intentional and is clearly intended as a tribute to the slasher films of the ‘80s that were certain to be full of inexperienced performers performing badly.

If you are the type of horror fan that expects a hefty does of nudity in a slasher film, you will not be disappointed with Varsity Blood. There’s plenty of nakedness contained within the film’s roughly 90-minute runtime. In one particularly memorable scene, a character refers to one of her breasts as bread and the other as butter. She then goes on to assure each of them that they will make her a lot of money one day.

Varsity Blood bears certain similarities to the recently released All Cheerleaders Die. All Cheerleaders Die has Varsity Blood beat in the originality department, but Varsity Blood is more focused than the sometimes-schizophrenic All Cheerleaders Die.

In addition to being a sendup to ‘80s slasher films, Varsity Blood also takes some of its cues from the giallos of years past. There is quite a bit of misdirection and the film gives us no reason to suspect the actual culprit until their identity is revealed. Some might consider that a cheap plot device but I saw it as homage to the early days of Argento and Bava.

One of my chief complaints with Varsity Blood is that the exposition is extremely clunky. It’s thrown in at an awkward time and recited in the most banal fashion possible. The expository dialogue lacks a lot of the flare that the other scenes in the film are overflowing with. It’s as if writer/director Jake Helgren (Bloody Homecoming) said: “Well, it’s gotta go somewhere. I guess I’ll stick it here.”

The film will see release on DVD tomorrow (8-19). You don’t need to drop what you’re doing to get your hands on a copy. It’s not going to change the face of horror. But Varsity Blood certainly has its moments and it’s ultimately quite a bit of fun. It’s worth a rental and tt will inevitably hit the Netflix streaming platform. So, either way, check it out and see what you think. I was pleasantly surprised by how witty it is. Gone into with proper expectations, this is the kind of film ‘80s slasher fans will enjoy.

WICKED RATING: 6/10

Director(s): Jake Helgren
Writer(s): Jake Helgren
Stars:  Lexi Giovagnoli, Debbie Rochon, Wesley Scott, Jesse Ferraro
Release: August 19th, 2014
Studio/ Production Co: Image Entertainment, RLJ Entertainment
Budget:   Unknown
Language: English
Length: 87 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2363518/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dogs, and cat hat(s).
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