Monday, November 29, 2010

Horror High - 2.5/5

Another film about the picked on nerd that gets revenge. Horror fans have seen this story done a hundred times most famously in "Carrie." The interesting thing is that "Horror High" was released in 1974 beating almost all other "nerd gets revenge" films to the punch, even the film "Carrie" by two years. In respect the novel "Carrie" was published in 1974 so who knows maybe writer J.D. Feigelson was inspired by King's work. Hell maybe I'm drawing too much of a connection between the two as "Carrie" was blessed with psychic abilities to wreak her vengeance whereas our nerd here uses SCIENCE! (Bill Nye would be so proud!)

Vernon is your typical nerd. He's pimply, wears glasses, has longer greasy hair and spends far too much time in the Biology lab studying his pet guinea pig Mr. Mumps. Everybody seems to pick on him including jocks, teachers and the janitor. Well that's all going to come to an end as when the janitor makes Vernon drink his own special solution, it turns him into a hairy beast that kills all the people who've wronged him in bloody ways. Can detective Austin "Assault on Precinct 13" Stoker solve the crimes before the whole school succumbs to the nerds primal rage?

As you can guess this is basically a loose retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the "nerd gets revenge" subgenre mixed in. For the most part it works. Horror fans will dig the killings more than the plot though as they were pretty unique for 1974. We get a janitor stuffed in a barrel of acid and a teacher who gets here fingers sliced off with a paper cutter. Ouch! All these people that our nerd seeks vengeance on are really despicable people. The janitor bitch slaps Vernon around for shooing his cat away from his guinea pig cage. His English teacher has the nerve to slice up his biology report due to the fact he spent more time writing it than his English paper. The P.E. teacher even blackmails Vernon to help his star football player to pass Chemistry. These teachers are complete assholes! Oh you can't forget the love interest for Vernon who is torn between Vernon's nice personality and the jock she's going steady with.

The acting for this type of film is acceptable but the actor that steals the show is Austin Stoker. This guy just commands the screen when he appears and it's a damn shame he didn't appear in more movies. Director Larry N. Stouffer, despite only directing one film prior to this, also does a credible job.

"Horror High" isn't a great film by any means but it's a decent drive-in fare that's worth a look for horror fans. The film went unseen for years on video until it popped up recently on DVD in 2 different editions. Code Red released an uncut version and Mill Creek released a slightly cut version in a DVD set containing 11 other films. Is the film worth the extra footage or would it be a better purchase it with 11 other obscure films? The choice is yours! A "sequel" (as in name alone) would follow 13 years later with "Return to Horror High."

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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