I’ve been waiting to watch Slaughter High for ages (holding out to buy the Arrow DVD release), but I was giddy and gleeful when I saw that the film was a new release on Shudder. But to say the least, I’m pretty chuffed that I didn’t buy the DVD – once on streaming is plenty.
Slaughter High is essentially The Toxic Avenger but a lot less clever. Marty is the school nerd (or if you will, Marvin at the Tromaville Heath Club). As an easy prey, Marty falls victim to a group of fellow students’ April Fools’ Day prank. Carol (played by a not teen-aged Caroline Munro) is Marty’s dream girl. She easily lures him into the girls’ locker room where she coaxes him to undress in promise of having sex.
As Marty undresses in one of the stalls, Carol lets in her group of friends, who stand at the ready with a well-made prank for poor Marty to fall victim to. After the curtain is pulled pack, Marty is face-to-face with a camera. But the kids are caught by their coach and given detention. Angry at being caught being, well, total assholes, they plot their revenge against Marty.
While most of the students are working out, two of them find Marty and give him a joint laced with something not-so-usual. They chuckle and head off to the gym. Meanwhile, Marty smokes the joint while he’s alone in the chemistry lab (smart). He places a bottle of acid onto the top of a precariously-built shelf and runs to the toilets to vomit. Asshole captain Skip hears Marty sick and goes to the lab to rig Marty’s experiment.
After Marty returns, the solution catches fire – and do does Marty. The students hear the explosion and all they can do is watch while Marty suffers severe burns that disfigure him.
Some unannounced years in the future, Carol wakes up from a nightmare of that April Fools’. Now a successful-ish actress, she plans to join her old gang from school at a reunion. Skip is now a pretty successful… whatever, driving a constantly breaking-down Volkswagen and waiting for his friends to help him out of his problems.
At the school, the group is reunited but don’t seem rather aware that no one else has showed up and that their school as since long been abandoned. Despite a couple of the women having the great idea to leave, they all run into the school when a storm begins.
Though they still aren’t too freaked out, even when they find an entire room done up for a reunion: only their pictures are hung up, only their’s and Marty’s lockers are there. Not suspicious? Fine. Just get high instead.
During the celebrations, they’re discovered by the caretaker, who is the first of the victims knocked off by someone in a jester mask like the one wore during the prank against Marty. Things quickly unravel from there. The first reunion-goer dies by toxic chemical beer (that doesn’t go through cans!) – then the next one completely melts in a bath.
And for some reason no one leaves. Someone eventually sneaks out via a window on one of the upper stories. I mean, someone even arrives later through an open door. Did they check every door? Do they think all eight or however many there were to begin with was not enough to distract one killer?
Alas, they are mostly sitting ducks while they get picked off. Though Joe tells them that he remembers seeing a tractor. Somehow this tractor is their ticket out of there. But Joe gets grated to death by the tractor’s blade while his wife has sex with his best friend upstairs (but don’t worry, they get electrocuted in the bed).
Finally, the remaining three are Skip, Carol and Nancy. Nancy isn’t special, and she knows it. She blames them for what happens to Marty, and says that’s the only reason why their friends were murdered. Though she certainly passes a lot of the blame – apparently Nancy had to have been mute or something or she was suffering from a backbone injury.
But suddenly, Skip gets the idea that Marty will stop his rampage at noon. Apparently this “April Fools’ ends at noon” saying is an actual thing, though it left me baffled until I looked it up online. But yeah. Okay. Another leap of faith here.
After Skip comes to his revelation, he tells the women that they need to stay awake until noon. They all immediately fall asleep. Skip gets up in the morning looking for trouble and is immediately grabbed and hung (though with the worst rig ever – as he eventually falls to safety).
When Nancy and Carol wake up, they look around for Skip and realise that all of their friends’ bodies have been cleaned away. Nancy begins to get jittery. She gets even worse when the two find a room that is playing back the tape of their prank. They find Marty’s year book and Nancy realises that her picture is crossed off like the rest of the victims.
Instead of keeping calm, Nancy runs off and falls into a cesspit. She can’t manage to pull herself out, and is kicked back in by the Jester. Though don’t worry, there’s a completely visible ledge there that I’m sure she’ll notice.
All alone, Carol begins to be hunted by the killer. While hiding in the backstage area, she accidentally axes Skip in the face. Sorry Skip. But despite it being after noon, Marty doesn’t give up. Carol eventually runs and hides inside the girls’ locker room because Carol really likes everything to come full circle before she dies. Marty impales her with a javeline.
But the ending. Please.
Marty begins seeing visions of his victims, who now are extras in a “Thriller” music video. Then he wakes up – covered in bandages and in a mental hospital. When one of the doctors goes to check on Marty, the nurse turns around and reveals MARTY! He stabs the doctor in the eye and says he will get his revenge. And… that’s it?
Nothing like a dream-within-a-dream cop-out. It’s so confusing and unnecessary, that it becomes rather head-scratching.
So Slaughter High didn’t really live up to my hopes, but it was certainly different and in many ways quiet fun. I enjoyed there being an older cast in comparison to the typical demographic of slashers. It’s filled with quirks that were plenty of fun to watch (or listen to – those awful American accents!).
The jester mask was an excellent tough. It made for wonderful silhouettes. But please, why didn’t we explain why the fuck a student even had one of these? Is this an April Fools’ thing? Why has a 1986 slasher left me with SO many questions?
Boy. January has made me cynical.