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Night School

tn_nightschoolslashersearch'11While almost all of the slasher movies I find on VHS are low budget and low skill level, NIGHT SCHOOL actually seems like a higher budget studio take on the genre. Released in 1981, just enough time for the studios to notice how much money HALLOWEEN made and start cashing in, it’s slickly made with nice, deliberate camera moves and high production values (even a vehicle chase on the streets of Boston). And it’s pretty good, too. I thought I’d discovered one of the last VHS-only gems, but then I found out it just came out on DVD from Warner Archive.

At first I thought this might not fit my definition of a slasher movie, because it has kind of a police procedural element, following the detective that’s trying to figure out who’s doing the murders instead of a group of kids in a cabin or whatever. But then I realized it’s not that far from the structure of HALLOWEEN, which spends alot of time on Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Bracket trying to find Michael. Or it’s also alot like a giallo movie. So everything’s okay, let’s all calm down, it’s a slasher, everybody.

mp_nightschoolThis  has one of the best done opening scare scenes I’ve come across in a long time. A pretty young teacher’s assistant at a daycare sits on a merry-go-round with a little girl, holding a pinwheel, waiting for the last of the parents to pick up their kids. It’s dark and you get a strong feeling of the end of a long shift, outside in the city as the neighborhood is going from bustling work day to quiet night. She ends up sitting alone on this playground equipment, seeming to need some time to think about something, or just to let her mind go and enjoy the peace and solitude. And then, of course, an attacker hidden behind a motorcycle helmet approaches.

We find out that this motorcyclist/Daft Punk cosplayer is on a murder spree, using his ritualistic blade to decapitate women and leave their heads floating in water. Two of the victims attended the same women-only night school, which in my opinion is the main reason, perhaps even the only reason, why the movie is called NIGHT SCHOOL.

The movie does a pretty good job of leading your suspicions as you meet the various people around: a friend of the victim, an anthropology professor and other employees of the school, the various people who hang out and work at a nearby cafe. The female lead is the professor’s assistant, British exchange student Eleanor, played by Rachel Ward. One thing that’s kind of unintentionally funny is this guy Drew Snyder who plays the professor. He’s this smooth ladies man who multiple good looking young women have affairs with, and the waitress at the cafe talks about how dreamy he is. But I don’t know, this is what he looks like:

nightschool
Not saying he’s ugly, but he sure doesn’t look like the pussy-magnet the movie portrays him as. I’m suspicious.

There are some gruesome sights in the movie, including a severed head dumped in a public aquarium and scaring an innocent old lady (I’d like to think the management gave her free passes to an Imax showing or something). More than that though the filmatists play with your dread about what somebody’s gonna find. The best example is when the manager of the cafe opens up the morning after a murder and it takes its sweet time letting us know where he’s gonna find the head while trying to whip together breakfast for a couple of his construction worker regulars.

That’s what this movie has that lesser horror movies are lacking: suspense chops. I figured out what was going on pretty early and the explanation is novel but not mindblowing. But it didn’t really matter because the sequences where people get chased or stalked or where they find the bodies are done by pros. They really play on the fears of women (or people in general) alone at night: thinking somebody’s following you on the street, thinking you hear a sound in your apartment, not hearing the sound in the apartment when there actually is one. As poor Eleanor tries to walk faster and faster down the street you wonder why anybody would think it was a good idea to wear high heels. Geez. Not convenient.

While HALLOWEEN was one of the first couple movies from a promising young director, NIGHT SCHOOL was the last by a Hollywood veteran. Kenneth Hughes started directing in ’52. Some of his more famous works include OF HUMAN BONDAGE with Kim Novak, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, CROMWELL and THE INTERNECINE PROJECT. He didn’t die until 2001, so maybe he figured he wanted to end on this one, I don’t know.

I never heard of this one before renting it, and looking it up it doesn’t seem to have too good of a reputation, the main complaint apparently being that it allegedly doesn’t have enough gore. (Gore is like salt, it’s always too much for somebody and not enough for somebody else. You guys just gotta stop being so finicky.) But I thought it was real solid. It’s no VISITING HOURS but it’s easily one of the best I’ve stumbled on so far in these slasher searches.

(but now available on DVD from Warner Archive)
(but now available on DVD from Warner Archive)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 3:09 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

46 Responses to “Night School”

  1. AROUND THE WORLD AROUND THE WOOOOOORLD

  2. The outfits killers wear in slasher movies always seem terribly impractical. You really don’t have a great range of vision when looking through a mask, and the above motorcycle helmet probably makes things a little too dark. I think Scream is the only series of films to sort of deal with this conundrum. If some of these killers had been more concerned with practicality instead of dramatic flair, more of them might have gotten away by the end.

  3. Great review, Vern – also, speaking of Rachel Ward, anyone else here remember Fortress? Not the Christopher Lambert movie but the one where Ms. Ward is a teacher who’s kidnapped with her students by some masked thugs (Daffy Duck, Santa Claus, etc…) And one of them was Vernon Wells I think? Even though it’s a TV movie, there’s something horrifying and primal about it, and I think it’s traumatized a generation of kids with HBO.

  4. Last summer on the subway I saw a guy yelling at various passangers who were wearing inappropriate footware. He was particularly angry with people wearing those plastic slippers that make a racket when you walk. He kept saying, “How you gonna fight back when the zombies come? How you gonna run away? You’re gonna be a zombie buffet, dude.” He was marching up and down the aisles like a drill sergeant.

    Nice to know that someone is taking pains to prepare us for the zombie apocalypse, one subway car at a time.

  5. neal2zod, holy shit, did FORTRESS disturb me as a kid. Actually, I didn’t even know the name of it till reading your post, but I remember seeing a good portion of it on HBO at my grandparents house when I was a kid and being terrified by it. For years I have been trying to figure out what movie that was and could not figure out, but you have helped to solve the mystery. Thank you, now I can track down a copy and watch it again.

  6. So there’s two films called FORTRESS with Vernon Wells. That’s the pointless fact I’ve learned today.

  7. Charles, thanks for reminding me, as I’ve been meaning to bring this up – there does seem to be a phenomenon of “movies on HBO that scared me when I was a kid “. These include the aforementioned Fortress, the “lady turns into a robot” scene from Superman III, and the beginning (car attack) and end (gremlin face) of The Twilight Zone movie. (it seems most movies that traumatize kids are rated PG or PG13 and are usually not horror)

    Is that a phenomenon that still goes on today? Is it now “movies on Netflix Instant that scared me”? 20 years from now are today’s kids going to remember the time they were scarred by the aliens in Battle: LA or something?

  8. I’m not proud of this, but the part in Superman III where they all turn into robots nearly scared me to tears. I think I actually turned off the movie before it ended because I was so frightened. For just that moment in the movie it was like David Cronenberg decided to direct a kid film.

  9. RBatty024 – I totally agree about the robots scene in Superman 3. For some reason that absolutely terrified me as kid, on a deep, stomach-churning, instant nightmare sorta way. You are the first person I’ve heard say they’ve had the same experience.

    Of course I watched it again and was surprised by how not-scary that scene is.

    The two other scenes that scared me as a kid (this time in actual horror films) was one were a retarded guy was hanging out with a young girl and they thought he molested her, so he ran off into the fields and an angry mob came looking for him. Then the retarded guy hid inside a scarecrow outfit and they shot him him to death. That creeped the fuck out of me. I guess the film is called The Scarecrow, but I’m too lazy to IMDB that right now.

    The other scene that scared me was a simple drill to the head scene. I simply had never seen anything like that, but when the drill came through the wall covered in blood that blew my mind in a bad way. Does anyone know what film that probably is? It would have rougly been sometime between 1985 – 1990. I have vague memories of a bunch of teenage girls and boys wandering around a castle type-place too, and being picked off by some monster, but it might have been a double feature and I’m mixing up the two … possibly featured a shower scene with lots of blood also.

    Shit, these childhood horror-film experiences evoke such vivid memories.

  10. Swanson – Was that the drill “impalement” in BODY DOUBLE by any chance?

  11. Henry, There are a lot of other people that post here regularly that are probably more qualified to answer your question, but the killer uses a drill in SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (82), and a drill is also used in Depalma’s BODY DOUBLE (84). I am trying to remember if the killer ever uses a drill in THE PROWLER (81), because that one has a brutal and bloody shower scene murder with a pitch fork. Also, speaking of drill kills in cinema, Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (80) has one of the best, and is more a supernatural horror film than a slasher flick.

  12. I was an unlucky kid who didn’t have HBO until I was about 11

    of course after I got it that started the grand tradition of “watching movies just to see naked ladies” until I got the internet

    and the rest they say, is history!

    btw The Twilight Zone Movie scared the SHIT out of me! they used to play it on TNT all the time and they didn’t have to edit out anything, that’s a great horror movie for kids, it’s scary but not too scary

  13. neal2zod, I watch a lot of films with my nephews and I am always interested how different scenes or ideas in film effect them. For example I watched THE THING with my nephews and my youngest nephew who was around 8 at the time was not scared of the film at all and just found it disgusting, but earlier that year he was terrified of the mummy from the goofy Stephen Sommers MUMMY film.

  14. Henry: The movie with the scarecrow is called DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. It’s a TV movie from the early eighties with Charles Durning as the heavy and Larry Drake of DARKMAN fame playing the unfairly maligned retarded guy. It’s a decently spooky little flick that just came out on DVD last year, so you’re in luck.

  15. Shit, did we have the exact same childhood, Henry Swanson? I remember that retard scarecrow movie so well, and that fucked up robo-bitch from Superman 3.

    You know what also messed with my little mind? A movie called Ghost Ship (I think). It had Nazi ghosts and a shower that sprayed blood. Oh, the memories…

    Speaking of drills, I still haven’t seen Driller Killer. I know it has quite a nasty reputation. Anyone know if it’s worth watching?

  16. Griff, you bring up a good point about the relationship between the decline in nudity in film with the rise of the internet. Prior to the rise of the internet exploitation and genre films where the only way for young men to see boobs and sex unless they had access to real pornography. I never had HBO until I was an adult, but I did have friends and family that had HBO, and I can’t tell you how many movies I stayed up late to watch on Cinamax or HBO as a young man just hoping to see some skin. My desire to see bare breasts led me to watch a lot of films I might never have watched and in turn I discovered some films I really enjoyed for more than just their nudity. Now with the internet porno is so accessible that nudity in film has been devalued. Why would a teenager be willing to stay up late and sit through a film for the chance to see naked women when there is an overwhelming amount of naked women just seconds away on the net.

  17. DRILLER KILLER is an odd duck. Ferrera was clearly not interested in making a grindhouse movie, so he spent most of his time shooting the weird junkies, artists, musicians, and bums hanging around NYC at the time. Every now and then he remembers why he’s there and shoots a drilling scene, and then it’s right back to scenes of long hairs mumbling to each other about art. It’s weird and sleazy and worth seeing, for sure, but it’s way better with the commentary track on. Ferrera seems more like one of the homeless guy’s his character kills than the director/star of the movie. It’s a classic.

  18. Charles – so weird, I was just about to mention my theory that a kid today would find The Mummy scary, but probably not be scared by an actual horror movie. Don’t get me wrong – Poltergeist, Gremlins, etc… scared the bejesus out of me, as did Zuul in Ghostbusters. But nothing comes close to the trauma of the Robot Lady from Superman 3. I guess hiding horror in a non-horror package is the trick to trauma?

    Also – do you think kids are scared by Heath Ledger’s Joker? If I was still a kid he’d probably scare me in the way Freddy did circa Elm Street 2. Then again I was scared by Willem Defoe in Streets of Fire so I might not be the best judge.

  19. neal2zod, my nephew’s mother actually made my nephews wait a year or so until they were a little older to watch THE DARK KNIGHT, because she was concerned Ledger’s Joker would traumatize them.

  20. Willem Dafoe in Streets of Fire is scary as fuck. The dude looks like Ace Ventura’s evil twin.

  21. Oh, cheers for the Driller Killer feedback, Majestyk. You make it sound more interesting than what I thought it was.

  22. Charles – I’m a bit of a blast from the past in that respect because I didn’t get the internet until I was 16, so the formative years of my life was spent watching movies like PORKY’S, PRIVATE SCHOOL, PRIVATE RESORT and MY TUTOR on the various movies channels while I’m sure my peers were looking at God knows what on the internet

    honestly, I’m kind of glad, I don’t think 13 year olds should be watching pornography, nudity is fine, but porno at that age would warp you

  23. Grim Grinning Chris

    October 20th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Mmmmm Private School. Mmmmm Betsy Russell

    “That’s the finest example of bareback riding I have EVER seen!”

  24. DRILLER KILLER is pretty much the definition of a big payoff. Most of the movie grinds along as almost a super grimy indie/arthouse movie with almost nothing going on, then in the last fifteen minutes the main character goes completely batshit (it was building for a while) and kills literally every motherfucker he comes across. There are like twenty deaths in a row. Even though most of the movie is slow and/or pointless, its still worthwhile because of the great sleazy ’70s New York locations.

  25. Griff, you do not want to know how old I was the first time I watched a porno, without the benefit of a google search. Believe me, back in ye olden tymes we had plenty of ways of finding smut. It wasn’t like Al Gore invented porn along with the internet.

  26. Griff and Mr Majestyk, you’re both lucky bastards. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get hold of some smut in Norway before the internet. Outside of a small window i 1986, when a new law made it possible to rent videos that hadn’t been reviewed, we had to wait 15 years to get a glimpse of Traci Lords and Christy Canyon.

  27. I’d like to throw my vote behind scary robot lady from Superman III. Saw it at the pictures when I was 9, and I was so disturbed that to this day I have never been able to watch that scene again.

    Maybe it’s time to give it another try, with all the gore and horror and general unpleasantness I’ve filled my brain with in the intervening 28 years, surely I must be desensitised to it by now?

    But then, the wires.. sucking her in, eep.

  28. Now y’all made me curious about the robot transformation from Superman III. I watched that movie when it first came out, I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old or so. But don’t remember that scene at all. Well, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuSsSwg9MXs

    Yeah, I can see what you mean, the empty eyes do it for me. Maybe I looked away as a kid in an act of self-preservation. Didn’t have that much luck when I came upon a clip from City of the Living Dead. Parents were out, so I secretly stayed up late and watched a talk show. On it, self-appointed experts were discussing the bad influence of violent movies on kids (it was a big topic here in Germany during the rise of VHS in the early 80s). It must have been 11 p.m. or later, so they assumed only adults would be watching. As an example they played the drilling bit that Charles mentioned before. Jesus, that scarred my innocent little soul! Maybe because of that I never really got into horror movies like some of my peers (“You gotta watch Faces of Death, it’s so rad!” “Nah, thanks.”).

    Other than that, I only remember the face-melting at the end of Raiders freaking me out. But since that movie was (and still is) so great, I could watch it over and over again.

    Regarding the aquisition of porn before the internet: Well, whenever you got hold of even the tiniest bit, it felt like a huge triumph! I’m not sure what kind of person I’d be today if I’d had constant access to the “Cum-Fart Cocktails” saga as a pubescent kid. Wonder what warped concept of sexuality the facebook generation will carry with them. Better not think about it.

  29. I have no clue about this movie, nothing to contribute to the discussion of Superman 3, Driller Killer, or the accessibility of porn, but I DO wanna say I love that the killer in the thumbnail for this review is wielding a kukri knife.

    And I guarantee you, the Gurkha soldiers who wield those knives in the real world are much more deadly with them than any slasher. I remember one story I read about a just retired Gurkha taking the train through India back to his home when it gets boarded by 40 men armed with knives, swords, and clubs(seriously, a modern day train robbery with fucking swords, how insane is that?) who start demanding everyone’s money and wallets and shit. So this soldier sits there peacefully and gives his wallet up with the rest of the passengers, when one of the bandits starts groping some clearly unwilling teenage girl. At this point, the soldier decides he’s had it with the bullshit, draws the kukri he had concealed under his coat, leaps over the seat, kills the grabby bandit AND 2 of his buddies, then makes his way up the train slashing at any bandit he comes across. He got wounded in the melee, but in the end, with just his knife, he killed or seriously injured 9 bandits, and the others RAN, leaving the loot behind.

    After that, the Ghurkas reinstated him just so they could promote him, award him a silver kukri, give him a sum of cash, then let him retire again. Additionally, the Indian government payed him a big sum of money for stopping the robbery and because there was already a bounty on the train robbers. Finally, the parents of the teenager he rescued wanted to pay him for saving their daughter, but he told them it wasn’t necessary cause what he did was his duty as a Gurkha and a man.

  30. Isn’t it amazing how a scary robot lady can bring people together?

    We need her in the Middle East.

  31. Totally been meaning to order this one. Thanks for the reminder.

  32. My first introduction to porn was the unscrambled Spice channel (aka squigglevision). If you didnt pay for the channel, you could still hear everything that was going on but the picture was scrambled so you could barely see anything. Every now and then though, the picture would clear up for about 10 seconds and that made it worth sitting through 20 minutes of squiggly lines. For a 12 year old boy, it was like Moses parted the red sea for those 10 seconds. I remember that channel actually having tv listings in the paper which, looking back at it now, is pretty funny.

  33. Did you not discover that if you held down that little button on the cable box that had no other discernible purpose, the squiggles got much clearer?

    Modern kids will grow up without these vital survival skills. They don’t even know how to record over a cassette by putting scotch tape over the little tabs on top.

  34. Mr. Majestyk,

    Not only will the scotch tape never be taught, but no one will remember having that extra two seconds of the next song or the dj’s voice when you recorded a song off the radio rather than paying a buck ninety-nine for the single damn cassette.

    Definitely have a lot of fear and love for Dark Night of the Scarecrow. I raved about that film for years and years as a developing person long before the internet let me know who or what it was. I haven’t seen that movie in 25+ years (I guess they reaired it every so often) but I can still tell you beat for beat what happens and who dies in what order.

    As to the children viewing things differently, I just came from watching the 3 musketeers (lower case intentional). It is odd, because it was definitely a bad movie. But not offensively so and there were a ton of families with little ones that seemed to eat that shit up with a shovel and sigh pleasantly as it went down their gullets. I still cannot recommend it and will probably hate myself later for not being more angry while it was playing, but we all have regrets. I also watched it in 2d or normal movie form.

    Perspective and mood seem to have as much to do with cinema and that spot certain films hold in our hearts as much as quality. Kind of makes this whole critiquing thing somewhat of a subjective sliding slippery scale.

  35. As long as there are nudie magazines young midwestern boys will be exposed to them via a big moldy crate hidden in the woods. Who needs cable? There’s porn in them thar hills.

    When I was 6 my babysitter let me watch Nightmare on Elm Street 3 on HBO. It both scared the shit out of me and began the series of events that led to me being the kind of guy that posts on this site.

    Thanks babysitter, wherever you are.

  36. MDM – I’m sure they’ll be plenty of modern movies that are considered crap now that kids growing up today will one day have a lot of nostalgia for, such is just the nature of things

  37. Oh, how I love you people. I caught the first half-hour or so of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (right up until a little while after he got shot) close to when it first aired, but I had to turn it off for fear of my parents finding me watching “trash”. I had that dread feeling that comes from wanting to know what happened next but being too afraid to find out for a long time afterwards. And I had to hold on to it for even longer, because I didn’t know the title or where to find it…until today, about thirty years later. Thank you, Vern fans.

    Man, it’s weird how universally unnerving that lady getting assimilated by that computer in SUPERMAN III was. Those dead white eyes. I remember freeze-framing that scene by hitting pause as fast as possible on our VHS copy, so I could see all the circuit boards being slapped on her face. It probably led directly to my revulsion/fascination with the Borg in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and the Cenobite transformation of Dr. Channard in HELLRAISER II. This was quicker and cheaper than either of those, and was somehow scarier for it. There’s a lesson there somewhere for modern moviemakers. I’m just not sure what it is.

  38. You guys are amateurs. If you put enough paper behind the dial on the old-school black cable boxes, you could get almost any channel you wanted, including the Playboy channel. Of course, back then it was more like episodes of Real Sex or stuff hosted by Madame the puppet.

    Asa far as traumatic horror goes, Poltergeist freaked my shit out. The peeling flesh scene was especially traumatizing to me. And the ectoplasm in the bathtub turned me off JellO for a long time.

  39. Hey, did the Dr Giggles commercials creep people out as kids? That giggle drove me to tears once when I saw the commercial late at night.

  40. It’s so wild that so many of you felt that way about the Superman III scene. I had the same experience, utter terror, as a young kid. I had to turn it off and have never seen the end of the movie. Several nightmares ensued, one of which involved Scooby Doo getting transformed like the woman, including the eye. That may be the only time I can still recall from my childhood that led me to leave my room and ask to sleep in my folks’ bed at night.

  41. I remember being just brave enough to get through an episode of the HULK television show, but ran for cover when I saw a preview for some upcoming network t.v. movie where people turn to mud. The editing of the preview made it clear that these mud people weren’t dicking around.

    I was also a bit freaked out by Sasquatch on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN.

    Come to think of it, Nolan’s Batman movies would really benefit from having a piece of music as elegiac as the closing theme of the HULK show. I don’t remember if HULK actually had pathos or depth, but the theme certainly worked hard to convince you that that it did.

  42. I used to be scared shitless of the Hulk as a little kid. They would show the reruns on Sunday mornings, and I was convinced it was on all day so I’d hide in my room until dinner. Turns out all the shouting and grunting came from my stepfather and his brother-in-law getting hammered and watching football. I now love the Hulk and hate football, so the blame has been reassigned accordingly.

  43. Just watched it. I was decent, a fairly classy variation on the old standard. My favorite part was when the killer throws the head in the aquarium and it bonks a sea turtle on the noggin on the way down. The turtle is like “The fuck?” for a second before shrugging (the shrug was implied, not shown, because a turtle’s shoulders are covered by its shell) and nibbling on the head’s neck stump. That’s the kind of grace note I’m always looking for in these old obscurities.

    I also liked that the first scene with the main cop shows him getting into an argument with his girlfriend about him spending too much time at work. Then we never see or hear about the girlfriend again. I guess we know who won that argument.

  44. Anybody scarred by Lampwick’s transformation scene in Pinnochio? Cuz that was some heavy shit.

  45. Majestyk – I noticed the girlfriend as well. Dunno what the point of that scene was.

    If this is a more expensive-looking take on the eighties slasher movie, I’d hate to see the cheaper versions. But then I was raised on the likes of the original “Scream” (which is excellent) and “Urban Legend” (which, although nowhere close to being excellent, is fun in a really hammy sort of way). There were parts of this movie I thought were excellent (beef stew anyone?) but for most of it I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

    And yet again we have an eighties slasher movie where there are only two possible suspects (as pretty much wholesale revealed by the early “shower scene”), and the one that’s not given spooky music whenever they’re onscreen turns out to be the killer. (Sorta like the eighties equivalent of an antagonistic Laurence Fishburne and an ineffective-but-friendly white guy. One of those two is secretly evil. Guess which one it is? To find out, see every single film Laurence Fishburne has ever appeared in.) So basically the exact same setup as “Terror Train”, “Cutting Class”, “My Bloody Valentine” (original AND remake), and half a dozen other films that I’m sure I could think of if pressed.

    Also the “kills” looked incredibly fake, the music was annoyingly cheesy, and the whole “buddy cop” thing, that they spent so much time at the start of the movie building up and that was really the only believable relationship in the whole thing, sorta fades out after a while. The Harvard cop does everything on his own apart from visiting crime scenes, so what’s the point?

    I can see why they included the two cops, because nobody involved in the actual mystery is interesting enough to carry the movie. The killer doesn’t even come close to being believably psychotic, the red herring is obvious, the other girls are characterless stalker-bait, and the lesbian principal was both annoying AND dumb. Seriously, if every single faculty member at that school is shagging their students, shouldn’t it be played for absurdist humour, not completely straight? Plus the tone of these scenes clashes with the tone of the “stalker” bits, which in turn clash with the tone of the severed head bits.

    So what I’m driving at here is that if this film had stuck with humour about severed heads getting found everywhere – seriously, WHY did they not provide a payoff to the beef stew gag, especially when it was so well set-up? – and more serious “stalking” bits, it would’ve worked. But they tried to turn it into a murder mystery, and as seems to be the rule nowadays the murderer is both incredibly obvious and not able to be deduced by any clues whatsoever. As it stands, the tone is off. The pacing is off. We spend far too much time with the two cops and not enough with the people involved in the case, not that any of them are interesting enough for me to WANT to spend time with them. But maybe they could’ve set it up so there was at least one more plausible suspect involved, or something.

    And… ah fuck it. This movie annoyed the crap out of me. Cheap, bad scoring, bad pacing, and nothing that it sets up gets a decent “payoff”. The premise is both obvious and nonsensical. The characters are vapid and annoying. The two cops are good but they seem to have come from an Ed McBain police procedural or something, and have no place whatsoever in this movie. Basically, if you’re planning on going out of your way to get hold of a copy of this, as I did… don’t.

  46. Wow, sorry about the rant. Apparently the movie annoyed me enough that I had to write something in stream-of-consciousness about it.

    Seriously though, there’s some tense stalking scenes near the beginning, and some great stuff with severed heads. Together this stuff takes up about fifteen minutes of the movie. The rest of it is pretty bad.

    Oh, but there are boobs at one point. Which is good, I guess. Damn, if it dampens my enthusiasm for boobs of all things, there’s something wrong.

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