Tuesday, May 18, 2010

High School Massacre

"My 'teen angst' bullshit has a body count..." - Veronica Sawyer, "Heathers"

It's pretty obvious that most slasher flicks, if not all of them, revolve around teens getting offed by some maniac. Many of these slashers are set at high schools, like "Prom Night," "Graduation Day," "Cutting Class," "Student Bodies," and/or colleges, like in "Pieces," "Final Exam," "Splatter University," and many others.

The following three films can very well be classified as "teen horror," as they all deal with one very real, horrifying ordeal for teenagers: High School...
These films, however, are dark satires about the angst of being a teenager, and I felt that they needed some appreciation.

1. "Heathers" (1989)

This film is the ultimate high school flick. It was dark, tragic, shocking and funny-as-hell. Filled with black humor and sharp dialogue ("Bulimia is so '87...), this cult classic explored the controversial topic of teen suicide and the "dangers" of high school cliques. Featuring classic performances by Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as doomed teenage lovers on a murder spree, this film explored the dark side of high school and was way ahead of its time. It went on to gain a massive fan base, and is truly a film that "really means something."

2. "River's Edge" (1986)

This dark, dangerous tale of disaffected youth came out 3 years before Heathers. It has become somewhat of a cult classic, but does not have as big of a cult status like "Heathers" does. Based on true events, this film told the tale of a clan of high school metalheads who decide to cover for a friend who brutally killed his girlfriend. Much like "Heathers," this film carried a lot of black humor in dealing with death ("I poked it with a stick!"), and was also way ahead of its time. The film featured memorable performances by Keanu Reeves, Daniel Roebuck, Ione Skye, and Dennis Hopper. The center of this movie, however, was indeed Crispin Glover's Oscar-worthy performance of Layne, the group's unpredictable, drug-addled leader. His performance in this film is definitely one of my top 10 favorite performances in a movie EVER! I would even go as far to state that it even rival's James Dean's performance in "Rebel Without a Cause"! Almost EVERY line he utters in this film is quotable, and that is a testament to his acting abilities. Definitely recommended for fans of "Heathers," and great films in general.

3. "Massacre at Central High" (1976)

Made during the height of the good ol' days of Grindhouse Exploitation fare, this film was different. The title suggests that it's a slasher film, but it is not. Predating "Heathers" by a whopping 13 years(!), this film focused on an all-out class war between the "nerds" and the "jocks." The film centers on "new kid" David (Darrel Maury) as he tries to fit in at his new school, which is run by a group of bullies, featuring David's friend Mark (Andrew Stevens). Unwilling to join the bullies, they severely injure him. Seeking revenge, this very resourceful and capable young man decides to kill the bullies to restore order in his school. After he dispatches of the bullies, he faces new problems as the nerds take over and become the oppressors of the school, which leads him to the decision to just blow up the whole damn school! How did this film end? I'd rather not spoil it, but this film is most definitely a scathing satire of high school cliques and predated such tragic events such as the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres. Here's a fun fact: Director Rene Daalder went on to work with Noise/Punk godfathers The Screamers on a series of concerts and videos for the legendary L.A.-based cult band. Another fact: This film has NOT been given a proper DVD release!!!! Seriously, DVD gods, please make this happen. This film is worth the treatment!!!

Well, there you have it! Three slices of dark high school mayhem! Not exactly horror, but then again, high school is horrifying enough!

Now, tell me that flick doesn't deserve a DVD release! Seriously!!!


  1. Austin, you can do no wrong! Awesome list once again! Layne rocks my world! "Hurry you ass! We both live for Crispin Glover. I love Heathers just like I love my dead gay son! Haha I've been wanting to see Massacre at Central High for the longest time! DVD release fo sho! I think you forgot one more movie, my friend...Class of 1984???? Anyways, you did an excellent job like you always do!

  2. I knew you were thinking of "Class of 1984"... haha. I'll make it up to you. "Massacre at Central High" was epically awesome. You would like it. I haven't seen it in years, but you don't forget flicks like that. Thanks for your sweet comments, Morgan...

  3. Of course! You better! Haha. I saw the trailer for Massacre at Central High a few years ago, and I knew right away that I had to see it and I'm still waiting to see it. Anytime! I love what you're doing!