Girls School Screamers (1985) poster

Girls School Screamers (1985)


USA. 1985.


Director/Screenplay/Production Design – John P. Finegan, Story – John P. Finegan, Katie Keating & Pierce J. Keating, Producers – James W. Finegan Jr., John P. Finegan & Pierce J. Keating, Photography – Albert R. Jordan, Music – John Hodian, Makeup Effects – John Mafei. Production Company – Bandit Productions.


Mollie O’Mara (Jackie O’Neil/Jennifer Welles), Sharon Christopher (Elizabeth Clark), Marcia Hinton (Adelle Thompson), Monica Antonucci (Rosemary Hokovski), Mari Butler (Kate Benny), Beth O’Malley (Karen Turner), Karen Krevitz (Susan Anderson), Peter C. Cosimano (Paul), Vera Gallagher (Sister Urban), Charles Braun (Tyler Welles), John Turner (Bruce), Tony Manzo (Dr Robert Fisher), James W. Finegan Sr. (Paul’s Father), Jeff Menapace (Billy)


In Philadelphia, the will of the late millionaire Tyler Welles is read. He leaves his mansion to the Trinity School for Girls, a Catholic-run girls boarding school. Seven of the top girls at the school are selected to go to the house and spend three days cataloguing the artworks and antiques. Once there, Jackie notices a striking resemblance between a portrait of herself and Jennifer Welles, the niece that Tyler doted on, who died in mysterious circumstances. As the work gets underway, sinister forces in the house start killing the schoolgirls.

Girls School Screamers was the only film ever made by John P. Finegan. Shot in Philadelphia as The Portrait, the film was unable to find a release in its original format. It was then brought up by Troma and extra gore scenes added, whereupon it released with the more sensational title of Girls School Screamers. It did receive a theatrical release in some places before going straight to video but was poorly reviewed. Finegan has not directed another film, although did produce the also Troma-released Blades (1989). None of the cast has been heard from again.

As you start watching Girls School Screamers, it looks a passably well-made production. The problem here is that the dvd restoration makes it looks crisp and clean, not the gungy video quality copy that people would have watched back in the 1980s. With so much cleaned up, it is impossible to tell what the film would have originally looked like from a technical perspective.

Going by the cleaned up version of what you are seeing, Girls School Screamers looks better shot than many other Troma films. Budget is clearly an issue and most of the show is contained to the big old house. It is also a much chaste film than the usual Troma product – in another Troma film, it would be mandatory to get the line-up of Catholic schoolgirls naked or have a shower scene at some point, but that never happens.

The schoolgirls hold a seance in Girls School Screamers (1985)
The schoolgirls hold a seance

On the other hand, it is still a fairly rudimentary film. There is nothing original or sophisticated to the plot – it is a standard variant on the Haunted House genre wherein a group of people venture into a house, are killed and the unanswered past reaches up to the present. There is also another trope of a peculiar case of quasi-reincarnation where the lead schoolgirl turns out to be a double of the girl that died there in mysterious circumstances.

Where the film does perk up somewhat is during the second half where it serves up the various edited-in gore scenes. The most entertaining of these is one where a girl pulls a light cord in the cellar and ends up being electrocuted and fried in a meltdown sequence. Outside of that though, the film is slight.

Trailer here

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