It’s one from 1990 and two modern slashers, all of which deliver some slasher fun and plenty of theatrics, while falling short in the end.
With this one hitting Blu-ray, I was so psyched to once again get a physical release of a flick I had never seen from the end of the glory days of slashers. Unfortunately, the slasher elements of this 100-minute movie are overshadowed by the tacky love story of the main couple.
There’s a girls school and a boys school, and in between them is a plot of forest where students hook up. It’s like…a straight Meat Rack!
The slasher aspect of the film is awesome—someone uses barbed wire (which was giving me Crown of Thorns religious vibes) to strangle horny kids to death. The kills are always at night in misty woods, and the victims are always kids having sex. Boobs abound, there’s female bush in a locker, and we even get a man butt moment.
The heavy-handed motivation is clearly about the moral issue of sex—just like in real life today, the adults in this movie are disturbingly obsessed with what teens are doing with their bodies.
There are also plenty of red herring. Anyone could be the killer, including school staff, students, parents, and even a nun! Notable is a chilling voice calling the name of the first victim as she’s chased in the woods. This could have been the unique angle of this slasher, but it never happens again.
Unfortunately, the film drags, with the hokey romance between the leads killing the tone in between death scenes. There is, however, a mandatory school dance scene with a glam band playing pop rock that sounds more like it’s from 1985 than 1990. Awesome.
Finally at the 65-minute mark there’s a great fight and chase scene with the killer…who does not wear a mask. Therefore, the killer identity is known to us for the final 35 minutes! Yet despite that, all the action is packed into the final act and relieves us of the boredom we were feeling for the first 65 minutes.
THE FINALE (2023)
As is often the case, the weakness in this slasher is its running length…112 minutes long. Argh! If it had been shaved down to about 90 minutes, the numerous highlights would have made this one a total winner.
The story revolves around a theater group participating in a theater camp. And where there are drama geeks, there’s loads of drama…and several queens. In fact, I was convinced the love interest of the main girl was gay until he became her love interest.
The phenomenal killer costume alone had me invested, not to mention the great chase and death scenes.
The film is even pretentious at times, with classical music, singing segments, dancing segments—but damn if it isn’t all lovely and artistic. There’s just something haunting about a theater setting for a horror movie.
The gory and violent kills are very reminiscent of giallo style, and adding to that feel is the presence of two detectives investigating as the theater geeks begin disappearing. The detective duo even adds a little humor to the mix, but their side story is one of the main reasons the pacing slows down.
The final act definitely delivers some great chaos, so the movie ends on a high note for sure, but I did find the Scream-esque motivation monologue a bit much. I was way more enthralled by the death scenes and atmosphere than I was with the plot.
DEPARTING SENIORS (2024)
This one is getting added to the homo horror movies page, because the whole plot centers around an openly gay, bullied teenager who scores a kiss from not one, but two guys by the time the film is done.
And despite being bullied, he’s not a helpless victim, making him perhaps one of my favorite gay horror movie characters yet.
In fact, most of the characters are likable, the teen horror vibe is on point, and there’s some good humor, but the film is lacking in a body count. If you don’t count the opening death scene, there are only two kills in the whole movie! This is because there are very few characters. Essentially we have our gay main kid, his best female friend, another gay guy who is interested in the main kid, and three bullies–a bitchy girl, her football player boyfriend, and his best friend.
The basic premise is that the main kid gets into an accident that leads to him gaining a psychic ability—when he touches people or their possessions, he can see their murders. Ironic considering he sees way more visions than there are actual kills. And that’s where the film loses steam. It’s so focused on his visions that the kills are virtually an afterthought. Not to mention we get to see them before they happen, so there are no surprises or scares when they actually happen.
The film gets a major high score for its gay content, but as a slasher it’s a huge letdown. There’s even a missed opportunity for a great chase scene and one more kill during the climax that would have left the last deserving character dead and given us one final jolt of thrills. It’s quite a weird missed opportunity, because the series of events unfold as if they are intended specifically for the chase scene to happen.