Friday, 1 July 2011

I watch movies so you don't have to #2 - Student Bodies (1981) (warning: spoilers)

Student Bodies (1981)
Directed by: Mickey Rose
Starring: Kristen Riter, The Stick (seriously that's his credited name)

Long before Kevin Williamson, Wes Craven and the bloody Wayans brothers thought it was clever to take the piss out of the slasher film, Mickey Rose made Student Bodies. Pre-dating Scream by 15 years and Scary Movie by 19 years, it's hard to imagine that neither of the people involved in those films had seen it.

Sure, with a heavy emphasis on comedy it is more along the lines of Scary Movie, but much of what people thought was so "clever" about Scream is present here.

We know where it's going from the start. The title setting the date tells us 'Halloween', followed by 'Friday the 13th' followed by 'Jamie Lee Curtis' birthday'.

Like in Scream we start off with a babysitter receiving a scary phonecall.

She goes out in the garden to check what's happening. Nothing there...back inside.

OH NO...she forgot to lock the door!!

Anyway...the baby sitter's boyfriend comes over, they go to the bedroom and voila, first confirmed death. It's a running theme. Sex=immediate death for the rest of the film.

Next day at the funeral, the killer strikes again.

OK, these constant titles pointing out the obvious are amusing at first, but the novelty soon wears off.

Time to introduce Toby, our hero and "final girl" if you like.

She discovers the body at the funeral and immediately becomes a suspect! But who's the real killer? It's the talk of the schoolyard:

Student A: Who could've done these murders?
Student B: I don't know. Could've been anybody.
Student A: Well, it can't be anybody. It's gotta be somebody.
Student B: Of course it's somebody, but that somebody could be anybody.
Student A: Well, look. We didn't do it, right?
Student B: Right.
Student A: So, you can't say it could be anybody. We're anybody.
Student B: True. But we're also somebody.

Back to Toby. She's great. And rather cute. And she goes on a mission to clear her name and find the killer.

We get the compulsory locker room POV shots.


And even a school dance!

Toby goes looking for a parade float...

...but the killer strikes again.

So she's back in the principal's office...

Eventually, she finds some clues...

But, who's the killer? The body count is going up at an alarming rate.

Is it the crazy teacher obsessed with making horse head bookends?

Is it Malvert, the creepy janitor?

Whoever it is...all hell breaks loose...

Seriously, the final ten minutes is completely bonkers.

So, is Student Bodies any good? Well, not really. It's alright as curiosity. It does overdo the comedy. The killer's internal monologue gets annoying very quickly, the constant post-modern self-referencing wears dry. There is zero gore and zero nudity. In order to gain an R Rating, the film is interupted halfway through with a random man shouting "FUCK YOU" to the MPAA.

It's mainly interesting in the way it's telling the audience about the inherent silliness of the slasher film, at a time when the genre itself was very much in its infancy. Sure, it had been seven years since Black Christmas, but things didn't really kickoff until Halloween and Friday the 13th in 1978 and 1980 respectively.

And then there's the lovely Toby of course, played by Kristen Riter. According to imdb this was the only movie she ever did.

Her only other credit is the classic music video for Centerfold by J. Geils Band.

That's all. Have a nice weekend.

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