Back of Box:
High school can be murder. Just ask Paula. Her over-protective father disappears during a weekend hunting trip.
She's being romantically pursued by a creepy classmate, who recently graduated from a mental institution. Her jealous
jock boyfriend is looking for any reason to release his juvenile rage. The lecherous school principal is after her tight
student body; her friends and teachers are rapidly falling victim to a silent, shadowy mass-murderer. As the body count
rises, Paula begins to suspect that any one of her reckless suitors could be the twisted killer. But unless she learns
his identity soon, her high school education will quickly come to a very nasty end.
Plot: Pretty standard slasher
fare, made a little more interesting by the fact that the killer targets teachers, as well as students. Throw in a little
back story and betrayal, a twist here and there. There's really not much more to it than that. Some of the twists
caught me off guard, a little extra credit for those. I'll even give it the '80s cheese stamp of approval.
Acting: Brad Pitt is quite
convincing as the aggressive, though somewhat overdramatic, bad ass, Dwight. Brian (Donovan Leitch) was a little too
out there for me to enjoy, but oddly fit in. The real standout is Jill Schoelen. Not so much her character, just
her. She had a way of drawing my attention every time she was onscreen. I must say, though, I give all three of
the aforementioned a lot of credit, regardless of their performances. In their defense, the script was atrocious. No
matter how many bad actions or how much horrible dialogue, what counts is the emotion put forth into the roles.
That they all had. I want to give a shout out to Roddy McDowall. Mr. Dante was cheese heaven. Oh,
the rest of the cast...Everyone else's performance was completely lost in the script, but it seemed like everyone was
having a good time.
Gore: Body Count (7)
Not bad. Not bad at all. Slit throat, head bashed on copy machine while it was running (Taking fun pictures
of the carnage), and (My favorite) flagpole through trampoline impalement. There's a few other gory goodies
along the way too. It's worth it for the flagpole impalement.
Suspense: This film
doesn't really deliver any real suspense, but manages to achieve some sort of tension. The setting helps this because,
let's face it, school is a very scary place. A small level of tension can even be seen in certain inventive scenarios.
Two great examples of this can be found in the film. One involves a math problem, the other, a pair of hand sanders.
Directing: Well, nothing
too special to report here. I did like Pallenberg's use of P.O.V. It actually creeped me out.
I couldn't shake that "someone's watching" feel. The angles and such get a little more interesting when things
pick up, but it's nothing to write home about. That and Pallenberg's cast direction seemed a little off.
Tech: The sound was great.
Everything was crystal clear, except one phone conversation. To this day I can't figure out what Dwight says to
Paula before he goes to his "Invite Only" P.E. class. The '80s, rock inspired soundtrack was a great addition.
The kicker, of course, is the lighting. Most of the film is set during the day, but the lighting always managed to be
playful and creative. However, when it came right down to it, the lighting wasn't afraid to get moody and atmospheric.
It even goes as far as throwing in a little green lighting. Loved it!
Other: The one thing
that disappointed me the most about this film was the script. Besides the twists and inventive scenarios, the script
is laden with bad dialogue and scenes that tend to lean toward "soap opera." It tries really hard to use the acting
abilities of it's central cast, but because of some the off beat actions, along with the bad dialogue, the
"intense" moments usually fall flat. Too bad, with a better script, this film could've been perfect. At least
the script redeems itself a little with it's over-the-top cheesiness. It even throws in a Final Destination-esque
Final Word: It's not perfect...but what film
is? Yeah, it starts off pretty slow, but when it got right down to it the film ended up being a rather enjoyable time.
I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, true. However, if you are a fan of the '80s and any slasher that has enough
cheese to make a life time supply of nachos, than this is a "must see" for you.