As it’s the 1st of April today, April Fool’s Day, I thought I would review a slasher movie to tie into the holiday: a film called April Fool’s Day. A film where a young high school student, who was the victim of a prank gone awry that left his face burnt and disfigured, returns years later to the same high-school with the intention of seeking revenge on those who ‘pranked’ him years earlier…and I just realized I have the wrong film poster…hold on a sec.
There we go. During production Slaughter High was originally going to be called April Fool’s Day, at least until the producers found out that another film called April Fool’s Day (shown above) was being made around the same time. Funnily enough, though, the film was called Jolly Killer when it was released in Italy, and the film’s opening titles still call the film April Fool’s Day.
Slaughter High is a very typical, old-school, cheesy 1980’s slasher movie. However, what makes Slaughter High different to a lot of other slashers made around the same time, was that Slaughter High was made by a British production company who were trying to replicate the style of bad American teen slasher movies. The film is set in America and stars British actors, such as ex-Bond girl Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me) and first time actor Simon Scudamore.
Thematically, Slaughter High is much more silly than other 1980’s slasher movies. The film feels like it was purposely made to be bad and corny by the fact that each and every actor, including Caroline Munro, give purposely bad performances, and the film tries to throw in as many stupid ‘slasher victim’ character decisions as it can, even if the mood of the scene doesn’t warrant it, such as having the victims engage in sex, drinking and drugs at really inappropriate times. Slaughter High is a slasher film that feels like it’s trying to walk the line between parody and telling a straight forward story. As a result, Slaughter High is a complete mess when it comes to tone and suspense, as the majority of the film focuses on the high-jinks of the victims rather than the struggle between the killer and those who he chooses to be killed. The high-school of Slaughter High feels like a funhouse as the killer is one who hides in the shadows and kills people in very bizarrely creative ways – such as death by acid or by lawnmower – without a care in the world. This does create a problem, however: throughout the film, there isn’t a scene where the killer struggles with a survivor, there isn’t that tension of fighting for one’s life against an unstoppable force, and thus, Slaughter High feels like it’s missing as lot of potential if one were to compare it against other slasher movies that come out in 1986 such as Friday The 13th Part VI and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986 wasn’t a great year for slasher movies).
That said, however, Slaughter High is quite well made when it comes to the film’s technical aspects. The film sports decent cinematography, decent lighting, decent editing and some very impressively gory special effects. The death scenes that feature in Slaughter High are more clever and creative than the usual slasher movie death scenes, and so the film has to back up it’s creativity with impressively visceral special effects, and Slaughter High delivers. The special effects are very impressive to see when the victims start to get knocked off one by one, however, the film does death scenes backwards: usually in a slasher film the deaths begin small and lead up to a violently brutal finale; Slaughter High, however, begins with the most impressively vivid scenes of gore, then the death scenes slowly become less violent as the film continues, all adding up to a weak, laughable finale. The film starts off enjoyable, I must admit, but it’s a film that slowly becomes less and less enjoyable until it arrives at it’s disappointing, and frankly bizarre, ending.
Slaughter High has problems, many of them, mostly coming from the fact that it’s a slasher film made by Brits trying to emulate a cheesy American horror film without adding any British flair to the production. Slaughter High may have a few positive aspects to it’s name, but there’s better slasher films that existed back in the 1980’s horror scene. Slaughter High only really stands out because it’s set on April Fool’s Day. In conclusion: Slaughter High may have kept my attention, and I did find it reasonably enjoyable, but it’s not a film I would really recommend when there are much better slasher films out there.