23 September 2014

September 23rd

Horror High (1974) directed by Larry N. Stouffer
I'm probably missing it, but I can't think of any other horror movie that took the Jekyll & Hyde idea into high school. It's a great idea: have the picked-on science nerd create a potion in chemistry class that transforms him into a jock-slaying monster. The more his Hyde side comes out, the more confident the nerd gets and the more he loses control when angered. His downfall comes right before he's about to get the girl. These things tend to write themselves.

Strangely, the killer nerd in Horror High has it mostly in for the staff, rather than his fellow students, which makes me think that writer J.D. "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" Feigelson had a different experience in school than most nerds did. Also making an appearance in the script is the stock character "detective who immediately guesses the correct killer, but does nothing except repeatedly interview the suspect while letting him roam free to kill." Played by Assault on Precinct 13's Austin Stoker, Lt. Bozemen is even in the same building as the killer nerd while he's killing and still fails to stop or catch him. It's kind of a painful waste of the badass Stoker, especially when the film's tagline is "The Man Who Survived 'Precinct 13' Is Back!" and there's nary a shotgun to be found until the final scene.

Apparently, Crown cut the film down to a PG rating for its theatrical real, but even in its uncut form on DVD it's fairly tame. There's a bit of blood and a single gruesome scene involving fingertips, but nothing is lingered on. I kept thinking about how this film was released right between The Exorcist and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: two massive horror films that changed the genre permanently with this innocent little film squeezed between. Smart, actually, of Crown, I'd say. Kids unable to get into the popular "real" horror movies due to parents or theater owners could buy a ticket for this instead. Kids need their own horror, too.

1 comment:

  1. Never seen this one but it sounds pretty interesting, as horror movies set in high schools are favorites of mine.