Before I left on my vacation, I watched several free horror movies on Fearnet. The majority of those films were worth exactly what I paid for them but, occasionally, I came across a film that was worth a quarter or two more. One of those fifty cent films was Slaughter High.
Though it was obviously made a few years earlier, Slaughter High was released in 1986 and was a part of the whole mid-80s slasher cycle. Like many of the films in this cycle, Slaughter High opens with a high school prank gone wrong. Poor Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is the victim of an incredibly cruel April Fool’s Day prank that ends with him totally naked and being dunked in a toilet by a group of 8 students who are surprisingly sadistic. Of course, part of that sadism could have something to do with the fact that they all appear to be in their 30s, yet they’re still students in high school. A coach (who appears to be the only teacher in the entire school) happens to come across the students tormenting Marty and he punishes them by ordering them to go to the gym and start doing push ups.
“This is all Marty’s fault!” one of the 8 sadists exclaims.
So, naturally, they play yet another prank on poor Marty. This prank involves Marty smoking a poisoned joint and then accidentally spilling a jug of acid on his face. As his tormenters watch, a seriously disfigured Marty is taken out of the school on a stretcher.
Exactly ten years later, the 8 sadists (who have now all graduated) get an invitation to attend a reunion at the old high school. When they arrive, they discover that 1) they’re the only ones who have been invited and 2) the high school has been abandoned and is on the verge of collapsing. Now, you might think that this might lead at least one of them to remember that it’s been exactly 10 years since they totally destroyed Marty’s face and life but you would be wrong. Instead, the group decides to break into the old school and spend the night.
You can probably guess how well that works out. Even as our guests discover that random pictures of Marty have been posted throughout the school, none of them suspects that something bad might be about to happen. In fact, it’s not until one of them drinks a beer that’s been spiked with acid that it occurs to any of them that they might not be alone…
Slaughter High is something of a surprise, a low-budget horror film that works exactly because it doesn’t make any sense. Nobody in this film acts like a logical (or halfway intelligent) human being and that – along with a genuinely creepy setting, a camera that never stops prowling through the dark corridors of that dilapidated school, and some surprisingly brutal death scenes – all comes together to create a narrative that feels more and more dream-like as the story continues. Narrative logic is ignored in favor of nightmarish imagery and the end result is a slasher film that seems to be directly descended from Lucio Fulci’s Beyond trilogy.
It’s hard to talk about Slaughter High without talking about the film’s ending and it’s impossible to talk about that ending without spoiling the entire film. So, I’ll just say that Slaughter High has two endings. One concludes the action at the school and then, a few minutes later, there’s a twist ending that concludes the film as a whole. Just on the basis of a few online reviews that I’ve read, the “twist ending” is something that people either love or they hate. Myself, I felt that the film’s first ending would have been a perfect place to end things but, at the same time, the twist didn’t bother me. If nothing else, it nicely complimented the entire film’s lack of narrative logic.
A sad sidenote: Simon Scuddamore, who plays Marty here, never made another film because he apparently killed himself a few weeks after filming his role. On another odd casting note, Caroline Munro plays one of Marty’s high school tormentors despite being in her mid-30s at the time.