FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 20, 2005

Day 20- Motorcycle Mama

Until I read the review over at Terror Trap a minute ago, I thought perhaps I was the only person on the planet who likes today's feecha film, Night School (1981). Phew! I'm glad someone agrees with me. Tracking down info for this entry, I came upon bad review upon scathing review upon "If you like Night School, the terrorists have won" review. "Hmm," I thought, "DID I like it? Did I sleep through it? What's wrong with me? When I thought about liking Night School, was I really thinking about mint chocolate chip ice cream or Charles Nelson Reilly?". But you know what? I did enjoy this movie, so there. Kiss my grits.

Some weirdo in Boston is killing students taking night classes at Wendell College (for women). Said weirdo wears lots of black, rides a motorcycle, and uses a very large knife to decapitate the victims. Enter Harvard-educated detective Judd Austin (Leonard Mann) to solve the case. He meets sleazy Anthropology professor Vincent Millett (Drew Snyder) and his assistant-cum-lover Eleanor Adjai (Rachel Ward, in her screen debut), who both have a connection to all the victims: Millett taught them all the ways of Anthropology as well as the ways of love. Meaning, he was sleeping with almost all of his students. Austin puts 2 and 2 together a lot slower than the viewer will--it takes about 70 minutes--and figures out that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned...and it's a super wicked deadly fury when the woman is learned in the ways of Papua New Guinea headhunters.

That was really my biggest problem with Night School: there wasn't much of a mystery to solve. I mean, who would be killing these girls? Umm, most likely the guy sleeping with them or his jealous, pregnant main squeeze. There's a few other weak points as well. There's very little character development for the victims, and a completely gratuitous and silly sapphic frenzy. Well, it's less frenzy and more awkward, unsexy, and pointless. The rest of the movie, though, I really enjoyed.

For once in a horror movie, the cops (while slow to figure out who the killer is) aren't completely loathsome, inept individuals. They're even likable, and they get equal screentime with the bad guys. The death scenes are fairly standard slasher fare, however the killer always puts the victim's head in water after the decapitation, resulting in: head in a tank at the aquarium, head in a toilet, head in a bucket, and in a scene I thought was just fantastic, a head somewhere in a diner. I didn't know where it would turn up, and I don't want to ruin the surprise.

Night School was directed by Ken Hughes, who also directed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Maybe that accounts for the feeling I had when the movie was over: if it had less blood in it, I think Night School could pass for a Lifetime movie. I'm talking about one of the wicked sweet Lifetime Movies, like Midwest Obsession (starring television's Courtney Thorne-Smith as a murderous Dairy Princess). It's more of a thriller with some slasher aspects, how's that?

Like I said, kiss my grits, everyone who gave Night School a bad review- I'm giving it 8 out of 10 "Mother May I Sleep With Danger?"s.

Oh, and this month...this month, with all these movies, my life and this blog have become a big mobius strip. First there was the 2 Gary Sherman movies thing (see yesterday's post), then today I saw my second head-in-a-toilet bowl of the month. And THEN, another movie for viewing this month arrived in the mail today, starring...Rachel Ward. Weird, wild stuff.


Des said...

Night School eh? Here's one I haven't seen.

David Lee Ingersoll said...

Off topic but -

Yay! Halloween Pez! Thanks Stacie!

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks fer entering!! :D

(go Night School)

Marty McKee said...

It does have a nice Rachel Ward shower scene though! Yum.

Stacie Ponder said...

Yeah, that scene where the professor is smearing weird stuff- raspberry jam?- all over her butt? That cracked me up.

Get it? Butt? Crack?

Man, I'm tired or something.

Anonymous said...

I had to skip parts of this review because I haven't seen this yet, but I do own it. I always end up passing out after the first murder. Hmmm? That's usually my first sign. And Mother, May I Sleep with Danger rawks. If you want a great Tori double feature, get Co-ed Call Girl.

Amanda By Night

ThomasB said...

Saw this one when it came out theatrically. Yes, I'm that kind of sad old bastard…