dir. George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Mackenzie Litten
"I showed ya'. April Fools. April fucking Fools, motherfuckers."
There's an old saying that goes, "too many cooks make a meal too delicious for mortals." Or something to that effect. As we all know, whatever the endeavor (stew, art, literature, porn, etc...), the more battling egos put at the helm of the creation of a particular thing, the better that particular thing will be. It's generally well known that an abundance of screenwriters on a movie results in one helluvan awesome picture. Indeed, MIT scientists have worked out an equation stating that the addition of each screenwriter will make a movie exponentially better. Although such experimentation has not been carried over to the study of multiple directors on a flick, it can only be assumed from the example of Slaughter High that the same holds true in this case.
This mid-eighties slasher pic took not one, not two, but three directors to complete. When creating a movie full of such nuanced characters, complex plotting, and elaborate staging, the producers knew that one director simply wouldn't cut it.
In the vein of Class Reunion Massacre, Slaughter High uses the occasion of a high school reunion as an excuse for gore. Unlike Class Reunion Massacre, however, an actual, clearly defined reason is given for the gore at Slaughter High's Doddsville County High School. This learning institution was a simple place born of simpler time (five years ago) with simpler people. Having a spot of fun, some enterprising high school kids decide to throw a prank on nerdy outcast Marty Rantzen. Wouldn't you know it, they accidentally burn him, destroying his face, ultimately sending the now crazed individual to the padded Hilton. Whoops. Surely, nothing bad will come of this.
Seeing as all of these high school students are in their mid-thirties, it would appear that Marty's first form of revenge is to make everyone age prematurely. Alas, this condition is not as guffaw inducing as Francis Ford Coppola would have us believe. It is so tragic that none of the characters actually comment on it. This is a shared pain that they quietly acknowledge by the mere fact of each other's presences. Strangely, when we cut to the present day (five years later) for the high school reunion, none of the characters have aged any further. They are still in their mid-thirties. This is a tricky spell that Marty has conjured.
Showing up at the abandoned, boarded up, dead-bolted, high school building for the occasion of their five year class reunion, none of the characters find it odd that the only folks in their class who got invited to this shindig were those that helped destroy Marty's life.
["Hey, remember when we scarred that kid for life, nearly killing him, only to leave him a psychopathic shell of his former self—a twisted individual whose only remaining thought is that of revenge, revenge on all those who committed that heinous act against him, all of whom coincidentally just so happen to be gathered here tonight? I wonder whatever happened to him."]
Upset at being locked out of their reunion, these folks soon break into the long abandoned, dark, cobweb covered building and find a room in which to party. Wouldn't you know it, this room just so happens to be decorated exactly as it was for their high school prom. Well that's nice. And hey, all their old lockers are in here too. As they should be, the characters are overjoyed to find, in their lockers, objects that they had lost five years previous. "Wow, I've been looking for these gloves forever. Now, they're here. Isn't that swell."
Marty's locker is in here as well. Wow, that's strange. Oh well. Party time. Ted decides to start things off right by shotgunning a PBR. Unfortunately for him, the Pabst company has just developed a new hipster detection formula, which signals whether a person is cool enough to drink the blue ribbon award winning beer. Ted fails. Grossed out at being covered in the blood spewed forth from Ted's exploded stomach, Shirley decides to go to the locker room to take a bath.
[ed. note: At this point, Dave's Netflix disc stopped working. He had to imagine what happened during the next twelve minutes of the movie.]
After stepping into the bath, Shirley mulls over what has just happened. A pained Marty walks into the room, embarrassed to catch his former classmate in a state of undress. He apologizes for intruding, but Shirley invites him to join her. After engaging in the most passionate, emotional, fulfilling sex of their lives, they decide to take a stroll outside. It is here that they have a meaningful discussion about their lives, their loves, regrets, plans for the future, etc... Marty tells her that he feels loved for the first time in his life. A tearful Shirley apologizes for taking part in the prank that ruined his life. "It's ok," Marty reassures her, "we've all changed since then. I've really gotten into macrame." Shirley giggles.
[Shirley explains to Marty that she also feels ugly sometimes.]
Midway through their conversation, Marty's face is changed by the transformative power of Shirley's love. The two folks soon wonder how the time has flown. It seems like it was only yesterday that Marty got scalded, and Shirley got her rocks off watching it. How they have achieved so little since then, causes them great sadness. Shirley explains, "You have all these thoughts, wishes, hopes for what you're life is gonna be. Then it just...you don't where the time goes. Where did it all go? Is this where I thought I would be?"
Marty chimes in, "What are we talking for? Let's act. Who says we have to be where we are right now? We can live however we want. That's what chains people down. Inaction."
They decide to break free from the shackles of hometown expectations. They need to start anew in a land where nobody knows their names. True to their new-found adventurous spirit, they hop on a train that very night, heading to wherever it takes them.
The two move to Vermont and start an organic farm, the proceeds from which they use to open a school for the disabled. The two grow old together, living an emotionally fulfilling life.
[ed. note: This is the point where the disc started working again.]
Marty kills Joe with a tractor blade. Stella and Frank decide to sneak off and fuck (despite the fact that other people are being killed). Marty kills them. The remaining people decide to stick together so that they have a better chance against Marty. Then they split up. Marty kills them. [RETARDED SPOILER ALERT] Marty wakes up, bandaged, in his hospital bed to realize it was all a dream—the him getting revenge part, anyways. He's still scarred for life. He dresses as a nurse and kills his doctor. The end. What the fuck? [END OF STUPID FUCKING SPOILER.]
Slaughter High commits some of the most egregious horror movie crimes of the eighties—stupid characters, inane setup, infuriating twist ending. Nevertheless, because of the profound ineptitude with which it commits these crimes, Slaughter High is one of the more entertaining slasher flicks from the era. [That's if you forget about the fruity middle section.]
[Incidentally, this review is part of Stacie Ponder's Final Girl Film Club]