“There’s horror in the halls…lynching in the lunchroom…murder in the metal shop. Welcome to SLAUGHTER HIGH – where the students are dying to get out! In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted, and tortured mercilessly. One day, things went too far – one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life. Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.” The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel, and a few select others have been invited…and it’s going to be a gala of gore!”
Slaughter High is quintessential 80’s horror, with gratuitous nudity, over the top violence, and shallow characters that only serve as cannon fodder for the deranged killer. For a low budget horror film, Slaughter High hits quite a few enjoyable notes that has served to elevate a somewhat unremarkable film to cult status. The film is rather small in scope, but some of the originality of the kills, which are quite brutal in nature, is the ultimate payback for incessant bullying.
One thing that sets Slaughter High apart from other films where a vicious killer unleashes their wrath upon unsuspecting victims is that there really are no redeemable characters in the film. The group of characters are terrible human beings, torturing this poor kid as much as they can. You have absolutely zero sympathy as they are hunted down one by one, which would be fine if you were sure that was the intention. My biggest issue with the film is that we spend way too much time with the characters we all hate. They aren’t very well developed at all, and honestly there is no investment in anyone. The killer is only shown in fragments, his hands grabbing someone or stabbing someone, so you don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing Marty get revenge on the people who made his life so miserable. The film employs some head-scratching rules, such as “April Fool’s Day ends at Noon, and the killer won’t kill us after that”. This manufactured deadline to help them survive the night makes no sense whatsoever.
That being said, this isn’t the type of film where logic or deep meaning matters all that much. If you can set expectations aside and try to have fun with what you get, one can find some enjoyment in the conflict between the students at Doddsville and the killer who wants to get revenge on those that wronged him.
Despite the shortcomings of the film, it maintains a strong cult following, with a high demand of requests from Vestron to include this in their series. It’s great to see they are listening, and this blu-ray release ensures that Slaughter High will reach a new generation of audiences.
Slaughter High is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen 1.85:1. Sadly, the film has not held up well over the years, and the transfer highlights its poor quality. There are countless blemishes and scratches, overwhelming grain and softness that is very distracting at times, especially toward the beginning of the film. It starts to look a bit better toward the end, providing some clear sequences, mostly ones in strong light.
The audio is presented in the original mono. The track sounds completely fine for what it is. There isn’t a lot of strong dialogue in the film, basically just the soundtrack and suspenseful music as the killer stalks his victims. The soundtrack, composed by Harry Manfredini, best known for the Friday of the 13th track, is definitely dated, just as 80’s as the film is. Although many believe this strange synthesizer score works well with the film, it can be a bit distracting and silly at times.
The best thing about the Vestron Series is the extras they are able to get for their releases, and they’ve put together a nice list of extras here as well. On this disc you’re going to see:
- Audio Commentary with Co-Writers/Directors George Dugdale and Peter Litten
- Audio Interview with Composer Harry Manfredini Featuring Isolated Music and SFX Selections
- Featurette “Going to Pieces” with Co-Writer/Director Mark Ezra
- Featurette “My Days at Doddsville” with Actress Caroline Munro
- Alternate Title Sequence
- Theatrical Trailer
- Radio Spots
- Still Gallery
Slaughter High definitely has its flaws, but it can be pretty entertaining if you take yourself back in time a bit when horror films could be a little simpler, focusing more on the slasher genre type than trying to create memorable characters. Although this may be one of the weaker titles released by Vestron, I still remain a committed fan of the series, and those who enjoy these will want to pick this up to add to their collection.