They’re from the 80s. They’re slashers. They both have the word “slaughter” in the title and sit side by side on my horror shelf. So that’s why I’m taking on Slaughter High and Slaughterhouse.
SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986)
Slaughter High gets big points for having a creepy-assed jester mask and for showing a whole lot of male wiener! The opening “setup” of the geek getting taunted by bullies is prolonged instead of getting right to the point. But most shocking is the level of male nudity during the prank they play on him, which involves very close male-face-to-male-genitals moments. Wow.
Years later, the kids are grown up and gather for a high school reunion…only to find the high school is abandoned. But they go in to party anyway.
Slaughter High proves to be one of the stronger entries in the 80s slasher genre, especially considering it came so late in the game. Deaths are gruesome, there’s male and female nudity, the jester killer is creepy as hell, the lighting is dark and atmospheric, and the final girl chase scene is amazing.
There’s some 80s awesomeness to be found as well. A poster of the movie Pieces is hanging on a wall in one scene. The bullies use the catch phrase “Where’s the Beef,” which was HUGE back then (the catch phrase, not the beef—unless you got it from Wendy’s). The movie takes place on April Fool’s Day, which was going to be the title, but it had to be changed for obvious reasons. There’s also a cheap scare moment that comes complete with Jason sound effects.
But the most 80s thing about this movie is lead actress Caroline Munro. First of all, she’s totally rocking the Laura Branigan hair in Slaughter High. Second, she has the distinct honor of having had a record produced by the one and only Gary Numan:
Too bad Motel Hell used the pig head killer idea in 1980, because it would have made so much sense here. Instead, our 300 pound killer simply runs around in overalls as he oinks. He definitely brings to mind that clucking freak Luther the Geek. The difference is, Slaughterhouse is one of those films that spends a lot of time with the characterization of the baddies, which makes them much less scary.
Some old dad and his pig son have this slaughterhouse, and there are men who want the property and are going to shut them down. So old dad and pig son decide to just kill them. This means the first hour isn’t so scary because you know who the killer is, you know who’s about to get it, and you know it’s going to involve some nasty tools lying around the slaughterhouse. I guess you could say this is supposed to be a black comedy, but it’s not particularly humorous, even in a dark way.
What it does have going for it are two “montages” set to a new wave soundtrack by some band called Vanishing Point. DAMMIT I WANT THEIR ALBUM! Unfortunately, I found NO information about a movie soundtrack or a Vanishing Point album ever being released. Anyway, their tunes play during a costume shopping montage and an amazing dance montage loaded with 80s fashions.
It’s when the dance takes place that Slaughterhouse converts into more of a classic slasher. There’s a power outage at the dance, so a bunch of kids decides to sneak into the old slaughterhouse. Imagine if this movie had been completely focused on that plot, hadn’t given the killers “sympathy votes,” and stuck a pig head on the oinking killer. That would have been a HOT slasher.
Even so, the last half hour DOES play out as an excellent slasher, and when good old dad and his pig son get a hold of the final girl, they do some evil little things to her—mostly involving her fingertip. The film ends with a classic 80s low-budget slasher “shocker twist”…which means at this point in time, if you watch it, you’ll totally guess the concluding freeze-frame.