Slaughter High (1986)

Rating:

aka April Fool’s Day

UK. 1986.

Crew

Directors/Screenplay – George Dugdale, Mark Ezra & Peter Litten, Producers – Steve Minasian & Dick Randall, Photography – Alan Rudney, Music – Harry Manfredini, Special Effects – Coast to Coast Productions (Supervisor – Peter Litten), Production Design – Geoff Sharpe. Production Company – Coast to Coast/Vestron Entertainment

Cast

Caroline Munro (Carol), Simon Scuddamore (Marty Rantzen), Carmen Iannaccone (Skip Pollock), Kelly Baker (Nancy), Donna Yeager (Stella), Billy Hartman (Joe), Gary Martin (Frank)


Plot

At Doddsville County High, nerdish Marty Rantzen is made the butt of a series of cruel practical jokes on April Fool’s Day (which also happens to be his birthday). A chemistry lab prank then backfires, leaving Marty badly burned. Several years later, the same classmates are invited back to a class reunion on April Fool’s Day. There they find Marty has planned a series of hideous deaths for all of them.


Slaughter High is a generic slasher film – so generic it was one of three films using the same title April Fool’s Day to emerge within the space of a year – see also April Fool’s Day (1986) and the Canadian The April Fool, which was retitled as Killer Party (1986). It was directed and written by the three men who form the UK-based Coast to Coast effects team.

Cliches fly thick and fast – an extended prologue sets up a traumatic humiliation, which in the slasher genre’s crackerjack psychology inevitably turns the bullied underdog into a psycho; the non-plot is a tiresome series of tracking shots, false jumps, pranksters and women who decide to take baths for little apparent purpose; the survivor of the story is predictable from the outset – she is the only one who has some pity for the psycho. The film fairly much only serves as a vehicle to string together Coast to Coast’s cheaply efficient makeup effects. The plot is almost entirely devoid of logic, while the twist ending makes no sense at all.

Slaughter High is cheaply made – it is, with the exception of a visit to Caroline Munro’s apartment and one exterior location, restricted entirely to the grounds of the school. This gives the appearance it was obtained as a cheap location because the building had been abandoned. There is much unintentional laughter potential. Genre favourite Caroline Munro’s lack of acting talent is gapingly apparent – which puts her down at the same level as the rest of the cast – but the funniest thing is when the film woefully tries to pose the tall and statuesque Munro, who was 36 at the time, as a teenager amid a cast of other teenagers. (And then when it comes to later life and Munro is playing around her real age, the rest of the teens fail to convince as adults). The theme song is an hilariously posed burst of heavy metal thrash accompanied by maniacal laughter and a voice shrieking “I’ll get you.”

The Coast to Coast team – George Dugdale, Mark Ezra and Peter Litten – went onto make one further film, the horror film Living Doll (1990).



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