Slaughter High finds a group of high school friends playing a series of April Fool’s Day pranks on Marty, the class nerd. But when their antics leave him horribly disfigured, Marty is left hungry for a taste of sweet revenge. Accordingly, he plans a high school reunion exclusively tailored to the classmates responsible for his misfortune. Spoilers for a 31-year old film ahead.
Slaughter High is one of those features I didn’t particularly care for the first time I saw it but it has grown on me exponentially with each repeat viewing. My initial dislike stemmed from the needless twist at the end. After all is said and done, Marty wakes up and realizes the reunion was a dream and stages an escape from the facility in which he is being held so he can execute his revenge spree for real. Even though I’ve warmed to the film over time, I still resent the twist. It’s unnecessary and doesn’t do anything to improve the picture as a whole. But, after getting over my initial disappointment, I’ve come to appreciate Slaughter High on its collective merits.
George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten’s 1986 slasher is a brutal revenge romp in the vein of output like The House on Sorority Row. While Slaughter High isn’t on the same level as Mark Rosman’s sorority house slasher, it nonetheless bears certain similarities in tone and presentation. The pair make for an interesting double bill, with Slaughter High filling the opening slot and The House on Sorority Row as the main attraction.
The performances in Slaughter High are hammy and over the top. Much scenery is chewed throughout the film’s runtime. Caroline Munro (Maniac) is overly dramatic in her portrayal of the pretty and popular Carol and the late Simon Scuddamore goes way overboard in his turn as the tragically unhip Marty. But as a product of its era, it’s rather charming. Moreover, the hairstyles are bitchin’ and the wardrobe choices are gnarly.
One of the things I appreciate most about Slaughter High is that while the characters deserve their fate, they aren’t so insufferable that you’re only watching for the sake of seeing the pranksters served their comeuppance. Sure, they are getting what’s coming to them but each character has at least one redeeming quality that keeps you from finding them entirely unlikable. It’s often hard to maintain that kind of balance. But it’s successfully executed here.
The FX work in Slaughter High is pretty rad. There’s a particularly righteous acid bath scene. And there are several other standout kills, as well. Most of them don’t make a lot of sense but if you can get past that, there are some pretty phenomenal feats of practical effects work contained within.
Not surprisingly, the film has a great score. With composer Harry Manfredini (of Friday the 13th fame) on board, I’d expect nothing less. The musical accompaniment is well-placed and helps stir up some great scares.
As for the Blu-ray release, Vestron and LionsGate have delivered another winner. Their latest effort is jam-packed with special features ranging from featurettes to director’s commentary, interviews, and so much more. The picture and sound quality are fantastic. This film looks and sounds better than it ever has before.
If you haven’t seen Slaughter High, it’s well worth a look. The ending is something of a bummer but the rest of the film makes up for it. You can pick up Slaughter High on Blu-ray from Vestron and LionsGate now. And I would definitely recommend doing so. Even if you already have the DVD release, the Blu-ray is too appealing to pass up.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten
Writer(s): George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten
Stars: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore, Carmine Iannaccone, Donna Yeager
Release: October 31, Blu-Ray
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate, Vestron