Cheekily, this 1986 also-ran opens with its original working title, 1 APRIL FOOL’S DAY.

The action begins in Doddville County High School, where a group of cool kids decide to play an April Fool prank on the obligatory bespectacled geek, birthday boy Marty (Simon Scuddamore).

Poor old Marty can barely believe his luck when school hottie Carol (Caroline Munro) drags him into the female locker room, claiming she has the hots for him. When she hears someone coming, she hurries Marty into a shower cubicle and encourages him to undress.

Unfortunately for Marty, when he emerges from the shower naked, he’s greeted by several cruel jocks who take delight in spraying him with a fire extinguisher – and shoving his head down the toilet.

Enter the school’s coach (Marc Smith), who gives these reprobates detention for their sins. This doesn’t go down well with this bunch, led by the joker Skip (Carmine Iannaccone), and they bewilderingly blame Marty for their predicament.

Which leads us to another practical joke being played upon the hapless nerd. Only this time, it all goes horribly wrong and Marty learns the hard way that you shouldn’t fuck around with Bunsen burners.

The horribly disfigured misfit is taken away and, we later learn, placed in a local loony bin.

Fast-forward five years, and the hoodlums who were so unkind to Marty at school are reunited by invitations to a country-set party. The group includes drunken wasters and petty squabblers such as Nancy (the lovely Kelly Baker), Stella (Donna Yeager), Joe (Gary Martin) and Frank (Billy Hartman). Not to mention, of course, prime offenders Skip and Carol.

It’s a stormy night and, what’s more, it’s April Fool’s Day. As the group inspect their cobweb-covered party venue and wonder who invited them all there, the viewer cottons on much quicker than they do that things are about to turn nasty.

But ... who is picking off these low-lives one by one?

A dumb script, crass jokes and some truly risible performances can’t stop SLAUGHTER HIGH from being a highly entertaining slice of prime 80s cheese. The pacing and visual style of the film are remarkably consistent, considering the film was rushed into production mere weeks after the original idea had been pitched, and was made by no less than three co-writer/co-directors: Mark Ezra, George Dugdale and Peter Litten.

Between them, they follow producer Dick Randall’s instructions to make an American-set ‘holiday’ horror film to sit alongside the likes of HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH. Unfortunately for them, this film was shot for peanuts in England. A lot of the cast were also English, and so the movie is peppered throughout with crappy fake Yank accents. Fittingly, Ezra’s corny script is riddled with American slang.

Happily, SLAUGHTER HIGH has a shitload of energy in the form of its young cast, and a tone that keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek from the offset: resultantly, the cheesiness just adds to the fun. How else could the filmmakers get away with casting thirty-something Munro as a high school student ...?!

With a rousing pseudo-US rock score, bad 80s fashions and some surprisingly adept gore FX to boot, SLAUGHTER HIGH is tremendous fast-paced fun of the "guilty pleasures" variety. It may be difficult to recommend to others as a ‘good’ film, but it plays great in a party environment.

Originally released onto UK video by Locus Group back in 1987, SLAUGHTER HIGH suffered BBFC cuts totalling 32 seconds at the time. Arrow’s new region 0 DVD presents the film uncut, with all previous cuts waived.

What’s more, it’s correctly presented in its original aspect ratio and blessed with a 16x9 widescreen transfer.

Colours are somewhat muted and there is a typical softness to images, which appears to be natural to the film’s original look. Though not the brightest transfer, this is a clean and stable presentation.

English 2.0 audio is generally clean and evenly balanced throughout, with only slight hiss to be discerned beneath dialogue on occasion.

An animated main menu page makes good use of the film’s rocking theme tune, while a static scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

Extras begin with two audio commentary tracks. Long considered to be the Holy Grail of bonus features by film buffs, I must admit to usually finding such tracks a chore to sit through. However, these two offered a fair amount of both mirth and insight.

The first is conducted by Ezra and "Teenage Wasteland" author J A Kerswell. I found this to be a particularly engaging listen, with a refreshingly honest point of view from Ezra and some good prompting from the occasionally sardonic Kerswell.

The second track offers fans the chance of hearing Munro’s thoughts on the film. It’s obviously not as involved (or involving) and veers off onto other subjects now and then.

Next up is an enjoyable 12-minute featurette with Ezra. He continues to be frank about the film’s shortcomings (the terrible dialogue that he wrote; the rushed production schedule) and repeats trivia from his commentary track, such as how the film was originally going to be called APRIL FOOL’S DAY – until Paramount paid the producer handsomely for the use of that title.

Munro returns for an excellent 26-minute featurette focusing on her career as a Scream Queen. She chats at ease about the early days, and gushes over being lucky enough to have worked with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Even better are her fond memories of working with Joe Spinnell (and telling of how she landed the role in MANIAC when favoured actress Daria Nicolodi became unavailable for the shoot). In fact, through the likes of CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER, FACELESS and THE LAST HORROR FILM – the one film she seems the least fond of is, ironically, SLAUGHTER HIGH. But she remains professionally courteous about the production and its fans.

The main feature’s original 95-second trailer completes the disc’s extras.

Arrow’s customary introductory reel – a fast-paced montage of gory clips from the likes of DAY OF THE DEAD and BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL U CAN EAT – opens the disc.

Although not available for review, the packaging looks to be up to Arrow’s exceptionally high standards: reversible double-sided sleeve artwork, a double-sided fold-out poster, and a collectors’ booklet.

SLAUGHTER HIGH might not be art, but it is huge fun. And to see it given an uncut special edition DVD release is a joy.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Arrow Video
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review