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Night School (1981)

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  • Night School (1981)

    Title Night School
    Year 1981
    Rated R
    Released 11 Sep 1981
    Runtime 88 min
    Director Ken Hughes
    Writer Ruth Avergon
    Actors Leonard Mann, Rachel Ward, Drew Snyder, Joseph R. Sicari
    Plot A Boston police detective investigates a series of gruesome decapitations of various college coeds commited by a helmeted, black-leather clad serial killer which leads him to suspect a well known anthropology professor as well as his female live-in assistant.
    Language English
    Country USA
    Awards 2 wins.
    Production Paramount Pictures
    Website N/A
    .................................................. ..........................
    People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

  • #2
    I've been wanting to see this ever since I saw it on the shelves of a video store I once worked at. Correction, ever since I left said video store. I would see it all the time in the horror section, but never gave it a shot as I was burned out on slasher movies. When I got back into the genre, I no longer had access to it. Over the years, my mind created expectations based solely on the poster art (also the same for the VHS artwork). If I had bothered to check out the trailer, I probably wouldn't have been as surprised by what I saw this evening.

    Night School did not come remotely close to what I had built it as in my head. Look at the poster and the title--surely it's about sexy teens going to a university and attending night classes and being stalked through POV sequences. All of what I said is in the movie, but not how I assumed it would be. This isn't The Dorm that Dripped Blood. Although it takes place in the major city of Boston, it lacks the sleazy violence found in Maniac or The New York Ripper. The psychological breakdown of the villain some stories focus on like in Don't Answer the Phone is also absent. The killings are brutal, but are not the center pieces of attention. Make no mistake, this isn't a special effects movie. Honestly, it's not much of a slasher either outside of the basic elements. I suppose you could argue casting British Rachel Ward as the leading lady in an American based story as an argument since Slaughter High did the same thing a few years later.

    At first, I was about ready to write this off as a dud. It's my own fault for wanting the movie to one experience when it's something entirely different. After the half hour mark, I started to dig it. It's at that point I realized this is less of a slasher and more of a giallo. In between the murder sets is a police procedural. Granted, it's not the exciting example I've seen, but it makes up the bulk of the story. Even the killer in this is dressed like the killer in Strip Nude for Your Killer.

    There are a few strange moments. One involves a professor that is sleeping with all of his students. The man looks like David Harbour and lacks a mustache. He's without a mustache yet you're supposed to believe he's a cinematic Lothario. It's stretching believably pretty thin. The other is the rivalry the professor has his with his boss, the female dean. Turns out, she likes women and despises the fact that he's sleeping with his students because she wants to screw them. There's some sort of underlying message about misuse of authority which you find in the headlines today with students and teachers, but it's such a bizarre inclusion into a slasher-wanting-to-be-a-giallo.

    What also sets this apart from other slashers at the time is the high level of production design. The city of Boston is an interesting choice, but the real eye candy (besides Rachel Ward) are the interiors. We're talking about sets that look more at home in a Hammer Studios production. They're absolutely lavish and I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the budget went to. The college itself is no exception. When I think of a university, I was expecting a community college or just a standard four year school. This is some sort of special women's college that you don't see in real life often if ever. That was off putting and was the first moment when I realized this was not going to be what I thought.

    I'm glad I stuck with it as I had a fun time even if it does lack sleaziness, is not a special effects showcase despite being made in the golden period of slasher films, and is missing the wacky nonsense twists found in gialli.
    People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."