Slaughter High 1986 Review

Slaughter High 1986

aka April Fool’s Day

Directed by: George Dugdale

Starring: Caroline Munro, Carmine Lannaccone, Simon Scuddamore

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Producer Steve Minasian certainly had an extreme flirtation with the slasher genre when it was making fortunes during the peak years. He was involved (albeit minutely) with the production of the 218927823678376834original Friday the 13th feature, before forming a partnership with exploitation king Dick Randall, which brought to the table three interesting entries. The Spanish/American produced Mil 2632673673763Gritos Tiene La Noche is a Grindhouse treat and one of my all time favourites. Its follow up, the troubled Don’t Open ’til Christmas, was a mangled beast, which took three directors to finally get to a (barely) passable state and still didn’t make a lick of sense. Slaughter High would be his third and final entry; and fittingly, it plays almost like a tribute to the cycle that he’d been so heavily involved with.

Caroline Munro returns to what she does best – well, gets most work from. Yes, she was the beauty that was stalked by Joe Spinnell in both Maniac, Fanatic; and she also appeared briefly in the aforementioned Don’t Open ’till Christmas. Having discovered a themed-calendar date that had not yet been knifed/slashed/pick-axed, the movie was initially going to be called April Fool’s Day. This was until Frank Manucuso Jnr – the producer most famous for his work with the later Friday the 13ths – beat them to it and secured the title for his 1986 slasher parody. Funnily enough there are copies of Slaughter High in Japan that were released as April Fool’s Day, which only adds to the confusion…

Marty Rantzen is a school nerd that suffers a constant barrage of bullying from a troupe of (middle-aged) students, which includes Carol (Caroline Munro) and the joker of the pack Skip (Carmine Lannaccone). As if you hadn’t already guessed, one April fool’s day3298037834763763783 the pranks go too far and Marty ends up horrendously disfigured and transferred to an asylum for the rest of his life.

You wanted by the book plotting? Well check this out: Five years later, the culprits are all mysteriously invited to a school reunion on their now abandoned campus, but no one knows who sent the invitations. Almost as soon as they arrive, things take a turn for the sinister as the caretaker is nailed to the door by a psycho in a Jester’s mask! Has 3849879474784784784Marty returned to seek revenge on those who taunted him? Or is someone else cooking up a reason for mass execution?

For reasons that are hard to fathom, the British crew behind Slaughter High pretend that the film is American, which explains why the accents sound as genuine as a Rolex on a market stall and switch between the UK and the US more times in 85 minutes than British Airways does in a year. Ex-Bond babe Munro slots straight back in perfectly as the scream-a-lot final girl, even if by 1985, she was looking a little too mature to be 21. I’d love to know how she managed to wake up early in the morning with perfect hair and make-up; – but hey, I guess we’re not supposed to ask questions like that. The rest of the cast seem too wrapped up in the bad-ness of their accents to care about acting, but Simon Scuddamore and Carmine Lannaccone kept up the camp spirit quite well. The most obscure thing about Slaughter High is undoubtedly Dick Randall’s brief cameo appearance that has to be seen to be believed. Surrounded by posters from his previous ‘hits’ (hey, there’s Pieces!), and looking exactly how you’d expect him too, he 8934784784784784proves that his flair for dramatics was equally as unique as his filmography.

We are treated to a few really inventive murders that include such novelty set-ups as: disembowelment by an engine, exploding intestines and death by drowning in a bog of mud.(?) Perhaps the dumbest of the bunch was when one girl decides to take a bath (in an abandoned school) after the blood from her friend’s ‘bursting guts’ sprays all over her face. She climbs in to the tub and turns on the taps, but the water that’s gushing through the faucet is laden with sulphuric acid. So, does she simply step out of the bath and save herself? Or does she remain seated until she’s melted to a bloodied skeleton? Well, what d’ya reckon…?

Despite being credited only to George Dugdale, the film was co-directed by Mark Ezra, and both handled different parts of the shoot. I don’t think they really did enough with the horror side of the movie though and I felt it could have done with some more stalking set pieces or chase sequences. The efforts at jump-scares 908489748747864764were too slowly78278623763763763 framed and the film never really builds enough of a rhythm in its flow when the action starts. Harry Manfredini cuts and pastes his Friday the 13th score, which does keep things moving, but at times I got the feeling I was watching a (low budget) sequel instead of a completely different movie.

The saddest thing I learned about Slaughter High, is the fact that actor Simon Scuddamore tragically took his own life shortly before the film was released. It’s a real shame, because he was one of the more motivated performers on display and maybe could’ve developed a career. The reason(s) for his suicide are unknown, but watching him play the role with his tongue stuck firmly in cheek and clearly disguising the problems that he may/may not have been suffering at the time, makes his performance look far more credible. It also gives the film a somewhat morbid air of mystery as to 904389437854785785why he chose to end his life at a time when he should’ve been celebrating.

Slaughter High lacks the polish of the flicks it emulates, but there’s still a great deal of fun to be had with the tongue-in-cheekness of the whole thing. The unrated versions give some pretty good splatter and I think the Jester mask is one of the cycle’s best. You can’t ask for much more than a hulking killer, an experienced scream queen, some bloody deaths and a plot that doesn’t bore whilst not taking itself too 19023897327637634783seriously. The net result is a movie that succeeds in doing exactly what it set out to. It’s as routine as brushing your teeth, but those are the routines none of us should be without.

Also keep an eye out for Slaughter High that’s currently in production with a targeted release date of September 2013. From what I understand, it is not a direct remake, but it has the same title, so it must be a tribute of some kind… Update from Feb 2013: It looks like that Slaughter High has disappeared or been withdrawn, but a Spanish film that’s currently in the editing suite called ‘Los Innocentes’ has a very similar concept

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore √√

Final Girl √√




Posted on November 14, 2011, in Pure Eighties Cheese, Slasher and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. i’m a total fan of 80’s movies to begin with and own thousands of 80’s movies on vhs and dvd,mostly action and horror but of course much much comedy and drama.i have several hundred vhs tapes,many i recorded from cable years ago and many pre-recorded movies i payed for at the retail store.i began to collect dvd’s in 1999 and now have a huge collection of those as well//not to mention thousands of 80’s music videos.i recently picked up the 8 movie pack from lionsgate which includes slaughter high(as well as 976-evil,ghoulies 3,waxwork,chud 2,the unholy,chopping mall, and class of 1999).for whatever reason that dvd’s have gone down in price,i’m glad they have,as it’s so wonderful to be able to purchase these classic horror films as many as 8 to 10 in a set for as little as 5 (sometimes 9) dollars.i admit that i only vaguely remember seeing slaughter high in the 80’s and i don’t remember waxwork at all,but they have that typical 80’s uniformity to them that can’t be denied as being anything but 80’s–i love that..and i truly miss 80’s everything.i miss living the the times so to speak.those were some great years.movies like slaughter high,are what i consider to be those movies that you’d stay home and watch with somebody when it’s storming or raining outside and have no place to go,nothing to do at the time –so you stay home,have a friend(s) over,order dominos and watch slaughter high or chopping mall,etc//i don’t try to compare these movies to anything recent,but just enjoy them on their own merits.

    • Thanks for the comment! Class of 1999, CHUD and Slaughter High in one pack!! Amazing 🙂 Have a great day :))

    • As a kid my parents never owned a vcr, yet I’d walk miles and miles to video stores…just to see the boxes. Sad, I know. I wrote down all the titles that interested me and tried my best to find information on them. I’d look them up in monster/film/movie books. Finally at 18, I wound up buying a vcr and raiding the previously viewed bins. My vcr collection grew pretty large. I purchased the same lionsgate collection, which is a wonderful value. However, I’m kinda sad that Lionsgate owns all those films. Do you know that only 6 companies own every tv, radio, billboard, magazine, and book publisher? Not too long ago there use to be 50. Now it’s 6. Scary eh? I remember someone asked Linnea Quigley why there aren’t any scream queens anymore in modern cinema. Her response was that it’s way too hard to get independent movies off the ground, because there aren’t that many independent movie companies anymore. Guess it was easier back then?

      • Wow that’s a pretty cool story! I remember those days vividly – yhey were much more fin to be dair. I agree about the corporations controlling everything, its definitely getting gvsg way

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