Friday, June 12, 2009

High School Horrors!

As those of you following the Twitter of VHS already know, tonight your ever-lovin' Vicar is taking a trip 20 years back in time, and this time it's not in the form of a candy-colored goretastic mad movie from the 80s. No, what I have on tap tonight is even more terrifying, even more horrible, than anything Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon ever concocted:

The Vicar's 20-Year High School Reunion.

To be fair, my high school years were not all that bad--discounting 10th grade, which was abominable. But like everyone I've got my horror stories from that formative time, from fashion faux pas to stupid things said in class to all the girls who rejected my clumsy teen-aged advances (many of whom will be in attendance tonight). Good times?

Anyway, in order to steel myself for tonight's festivities, I'm drawing strength from my memories of a few classic high school horrors, thoughts of which will hopefully provide the inner fortitude I need to make it through. Well, them and the cash bar. Bear in mind this is not a "Top 5," but merely a handful of flicks that occur to me as I get ready to revisit this glorious and painful time of my life.

You want to help a Vicar out? In the comments, please share your favorite high school horrors! And should you feel the urge to confess some of the terrifying tribulations *you* endured during your high school years, that's encouraged too. The worse you had it, the better I'll feel.

Student Bodies (1981)

Though I was still 8 years away from graduation when this movie hit theaters, I remember watching it again and again on cable and VHS back in the day. An Airplane!-influenced spoof of the slasher genre when the tropes themselves were still in their infancy, this never failed to make the Young Vicar and his seminary mates giggle with glee. The Breather may not have had the marketable costume of the Ghostface Killer, but he was a hell of a lot funnier. Death by horsehead bookends, a fly being added to the ongoing, on-screen body count, and the mysteriously hilarious entity known only as The Stick playing Malvert the Mentally Challenged Janitor, all combine to make this a movie I need to revisit.

The Redeemer, aka Class Reunion Massacre (1971)

I found this one at a used VHS store a couple years back, and was surprised by how out-there it was. A group of students making preparations for their 10-year class reunion run afoul of an evil spirit that haunts the hallowed halls of their institution of learning, with borderline surreal and over-the-border MAD results. A full-sized football player mannequin, a doomsaying preacher bent on purifying the graduates of sin via extreme bloodletting, and a strange 3-fingered child rising from a nearby pond are only scratching the surface.

Slaughter High (1986)

A group of the popular kids who maimed a nerdly classmate find their bad deeds coming home to roost when a killer starts offing them at their reunion. Any similarity between this plot and actual events, past or present or future, is purely coincidental.

Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986)

One of Troma's earliest and still best efforts--if such a tag can be applied to Troma's gleefully and unapologetically tasteless output--this one is like Class of 1984 with all the seriousness excised, the dystopian elements played for laughs, and radioactive mutants added for spice. Goopy dayglo FX and people trying way too hard to offend you (and succeeding) make this the most realistic portrayal of the American 80s high school experience ever filmed.

Carrie (1976)

This movie is required by statute to be at the top of every high-school horrors list, but there's probably a reason for that. From a novel by Stephen King before he stopped editing himself, the story is tight and effective, and really captures the vulnerability and pain of a high school misfit repeatedly getting punished for her attempts to fit in. Sissy Spacek completely owns the title role, making her the prototype of pubescent psychokinetic sexually-repressed weirdos for decades to come. And if you never wanted to see a school dance go up in flames, your high school experience must have been happier than most. The director's not bad either.

Okay kids, your turn! CONFESS!


T. R Xands said...

Man, I just realized how few high school horror/slasher movies I've seen (or at least that I actually remember) from any decade. Other than Carrie & Slaughter High, I remember seeing Happy Birthday to Me (which was GLORIOUS) not too long ago via FearNet & the original Prom Night (and one of the sequels) when I was young & allowed in Blockbuster.

High school was pretty ho-hum up until the second half. I realize now it would make the best action-slasher combo ever. Intrigue! Goths! Mysterious student & teacher vanishings! Blood in the cafeteria! Scandal! Adultery! We even had a film goof one year with a student that was alternatively in & out of a wheel chair at random points in the day. Good times.

Tower Farm said...


Sheesh...this is hard. All my favorites take place on extremely unrealistic college campuses. I think you've covered the classics.

What about 1981's Graduation Day, which revolves around murders within a high-school track team and features a young Vanna White (and her uncle, Christopher George)?

Of course there are some newer, post-Scream slasher set in high schools...but those are generally nauseating and not worth mentioning.

As for my own high school experiences...most of them have been blocked out by years of hard drinking.


Eric Wincentsen said...

Don't forget "Massacre at Central High" and "National Lampoon's Class Reunion".

My worst memory of high school is something I did. An article I wrote for the school newspaper got censored, and I went on an immature anti-semitic rant that would have made Mel Gibson turn red. Worse was I didn't believe anything I was saying; I just wanted to to piss people off. Not my proudest moment. The only good thing about my 10-year reunion was I got to finally apologize to some people.

My 20-year is next year, and I'm skipping it. Despite me feeling I had an obligation to go to my 10th, I discovered most people hadn't changed (some even had the same hairdos). I don't want to see what's happened 20 years down the line.

Anonymous said...

The only high school horror movie I ever saw was Prom Night... the remake. One of the worst movie I've ever seen.

Anyways, right now I'm in the process of finishing high school (in Quebec secondary education ends with the eleventh grade) and well, it wasn't so bad. The three first years were pretty boring, the fourth was just crazy in terms of ups and downs and for some reasons (okay they were good reasons) everybody in my promotion thought I was a drug dealer and this last year was fun if not special. Only things left are the exams and the prom, not gonna miss high school one bit.

Jeremy said...

Bless the good folks at Paramount for finally releasing Student Bodies on DVD! Would that there were extras other than the trailer, but I won't look that gift horse in the mouth.


Allow me to share this snapshot of high school with you...

The Vicar of VHS said...

I want to say thank you to my readers for helping me get up for the reunion with your great movie suggestions and even better high school memories! You'll be happy to know I've survived, I didn't get pantsed, and actually managed to have a passable amount of fun. The girl I had a crush on all 4 years and who broke my heart on no less than 3 occasions during that time didn't show up, so I didn't get to show off my suave black-clad sexiness and make her bitterly regret not having treated me better--not that this was in any way my plan. :S Still, I made it through, and now I can devote my full attention the long slow process of getting old and dying.

@T. R Xands--HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME is indeed a glorious mess of a movie, one which I watched for the first time only a couple of years ago. One of the great WTF endings in slasher history, for my money, though not up in the rarefied heights of PIECES. As for your HS experience, wow! The student/teacher vanishings sound particularly intriguing, esp. if they're tied to the goths and blood and adultery. I'll buy a ticket to that movie!

@Tower Farm Billy--I don't think I've ever actually sat down to GRADUATION DAY; I had a chance back in the 80s, but when I learned Vanna White didn't get nekkid (did she?) I moved on to something else. As to the more modern HS horrors, the less said the better indeed.

@Ezreal--I actually live in Little Rock, Arkansas, which is where the Central High Segregation drama happened back in the 60s (an aunt of mine was actually a student at the time). I don't know if MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH is based on that, but I'll pretend it is. As to 10 vs. 20 yr reunions, I can't speak to the difference as I skipped my 10 yr, but I imagine people were much closer to their HS personalities then than they will be 2 decades down the line. I was surprised last night that everyone was such a grown-up. Also by how few people I actually remembered; I had a small circle of friends.

@ThatQuebecGuy--I didn't see the Prom Night remake, but the original was no great shakes anyway, IIRC. Good luck on surviving your last year before the mast. Horror movies will help get you through; it worked for me, anyway. ;)

@Jeremy--I really need to add STUDENT BODIES to my permanent collection. I want a BIGFOOT-style documentary on "The Search for The Stick" as an extra, though. Apparently the guy just disappeared, which is odd. I mean, how could a guy like THAT just disappear? I thought for a while he might have changed his name to Gabby Hayes, but the time frames don't mesh.

@Al Bruno III--thanks for sharing that unique slice of pain and triumph! At least you got to dance with your crush at the end of the night. I took my aforementioned crush to the junior prom (she agreed only b/c no one else asked her), got one dance at the beginning of the night, had to have her home by 11, and not so much as a peck goodnight. Not that I'm bitter.

Thanks again, everybody!

The Vicar of VHS said...

Eek! Of course I meant Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, not Gabby Hayes of 40s western character acting fame. I guess the memory really is the second thing you lose with age, right after you lose...ah, dammit...what was that first thing? ;P

The Duke of DVD said...

The details of my high school years have become lost to even the most devout practitioners of bonecasting, but in the interest of participation I shall relate a tidbit.

My greatest memory from those years involves me kicking a volleyball the length of the basketball court inside the gymnasium, which struck a window near the coaches office, thus shattering it. After the initial panic, and subsequent paddling, I won the affections of a girl whom I had attempted to court on several occasions previously.

Some say it was my obvious virility, nay moxie, that won the hand of the fair maiden, but I choose to believe it is because I'm hung like a donkey.

Martin said...

Nice list! Haven't seen all of them but definitely worth a look!


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