Our Daily Trailer: SLAUGHTER HIGH

Scared Stiffies week continues with this minor slasher with a major cock shot.

I was pretty late to the party with Slaughter High; I can't recall the exact date, of course, but I think I was in 7th or 8th grade, long after I had seen the franchise movies (4th and 5th grade experiences, for the most part). It was also one of the last ones I watched with my mom; by this point I had my own VCR in my room and thus I could just watch this crap on my own instead of hijacking the family room, but for whatever reason she wanted to watch it (maybe because it was during this transitional period, where watching movies with her "little boy" was soon to be a thing of the past). I also remember thinking that it wasn't very good.

Part of that problem is the film's conclusion, which (spoiler) reveals everything to be a goddamn dream. Not sure why this twist ever gets employed, as 99% of the time it just enrages the viewer, but it's even weirder in a slasher movie - why is the killer dreaming of all the tedious buildup that occurs before he gets to the fun stuff? I mean I guess it's better than it all being the heroine's dream, and I like that they go all in with the idea as his dream turns completely surreal during the film's (surprisingly solid) final chase scene, but it's still a groan-worthy reveal.

But if you ignore the ending, it's a pretty standard slasher movie peppered with some memorable oddness. For starters, the movie is a British production but set in America, so you have a bunch of attempts at American accents and also a minor snafu: the plot is set on April Fool's Day and thus the killer has until noon to do his thing, because that's the "rule." Not in America, it isn't! Silly Brits. The cast is way too old, too; it's only supposed to be their five-year reunion but some of them (including Caroline Munro, the heroine) are almost old enough to be attending their twentieth. And then there's the cock shot, hence the movie's inclusion in this week's Our Daily Trailer theme. The opening of the movie is a total ripoff of Terror Train's, but they throw in some Carrie too by having it set in a locker room shower. Nerdy Marty is embarrassed and shown in the nude to add to his humiliation, leading to the accident that has him donning a Jester mask and carrying out his revenge five years later.

When I was 14 I just thought it was weird to see a guy's junk in a movie; it may have even been the first time I had seen one other than my own. But now that I'm slightly wiser than I was then, I realize that this actually helps make Marty more pathetic - there's something about seeing him totally exposed in front of the girl he likes and all the popular kids that not only makes you feel sorrier for him than the Terror Train guy, but it also kind of makes it easier to cheer him on as he gets his revenge. The protagonists are all awful assholes, so there's not much of a reason to root against Marty except on a moral level - but this also makes the dream thing a baffling development. Why make all of the characters into such awful people if they're not even going to have the stones to actually kill them? Don't put us in a weird position where we are kind of annoyed that the main characters are still alive!

Oh, and this trailer is even wackier, as the VO guy and music suggests '80s sex comedy more than slasher flick. Even when they're showing some of the deaths, I keep expecting Koogler to show up.

The movie was shot in 1984, which is when the slasher genre was on its last breath before makeup FX driven monster movies took over (Nightmare on Elm Street was a sort of bridge between the two eras). By the time it was finally released in late 1986, no one cared much about such fare anymore, and since no box office information can be found we can assume it wasn't particularly successful. The film's THREE directors (!) have each only made one or two films since (ditto for most of the cast), and sadly the actor who played Marty, Simon Scuddamore, committed suicide before it was even released. DVD releases have been full-frame transfers, seemingly from a VHS, and the obligatory remake seems to have stalled, so until that happens I wouldn't expect to see a better release of this odd little flick. But I can guarantee if you dress as Marty/Jester for Halloween, you won't have to worry about someone else wearing the same costume!

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