Review Date: October 19, 2008
Released by: Legend Films
Release date: 6/03/2008
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
After seeing the poster for the new spoof, Disaster Movie
, I wanted to shoot myself in the face. After Superhero Movie
, Epic Movie
, Date Movie
, Not Another Teen Movie
and of course the Scary Movies
, surely Hollywood has run out of genres to exploit. What’s next? Remake Movie
, Sequel Movie
or how about Spoof Movie
to get really post-modern? The genre is fucking dead.
Now I remember as far back as 2000 where parody and horror fans alike were clamoring for a release of the forgotten 1981 slasher send-up, Student Bodies
. “Please Paramount, with Scream
all the rage there’s no better time than now to release it!” Of course they didn’t, and it’s only now, when everyone’s forgotten about Scream
(Neve who?) and the spoof market is saturated to the point of sickness, that Student Bodies
finally makes its way to digital. Tough break for Legacy Films, who have admirably struck a deal with Paramount to release a number of oft-requested B-classics like The Sender
, The Skull
and Phase IV
, to name a few.
Still, let’s forget about the entourage of uninspired spoofs and go back to 1981 when Airplane
was only a year old and the genre still seemed ripe for exploration. Let’s register for Student Bodies
, and watch, as the box states, “the world’s first comedy horror movie”. Did you hear that, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
The film begins on a quiet suburban house on Friday the 13th. Fade out. Cut to the same house. Halloween. It’s a shame the movie wasn’t made a couple years later, because then this title card gimmick could have been played out to the tune of April Fools Day
, Prom Night
and Graduation Day
. In we go to the house, with some over-exaggerated breathing and one hell of a shaky first person camera. Then we see the babysitter on the phone, quietly pontificating that tonight might be the last night she has to live. The phone rings once. Heavy breathing. It rings again. Heavy breathing. It rings once more, nearly shaking off the desk. Heavy breathing followed by what can only be described as telephone ejaculate. This isn’t your PG-13 spoof.
After our babysitter is offed with a Creative Weapon (this time a paperclip), we get into the real “story”, where a bunch of teens at a school start to get hacked one by one. There’s a ton of suspects: the deranged shop teacher obsessed with horse head bookends (sadly not played by Godfather
alum John Marley), an impossibly tall and lanky janitor (cult actor known only as “The Stick”) with a preference for blow-up dolls and urinating in garbage cans, a sexually repressed principal always “naked under his clothes” by the name of Sigmund (get it?), the prettiest girl in school who just has to be prom queen, or about a hundred other walk-on suspects. Each time a suspect walks on, the image usually flashes identifiers on screen. The film humorously does it for the body count, pointing out unlocked doors and other staples of the genre as well.
Further zany antics transpire in various locals, with a football game interrupted with a dead body at the fifty yard line (“15 yard penalty!”), a woman’s locker room captured in masturbatory first person, a school parade is cut short when a woman is murdered with an eggplant, and perhaps most memorably a man behind a desk tells the audience to “Fuck off!” in order to secure an R-rating (how times have changed!). The jokes come a mile a minute, and in the end not even Carrie
is a real mixed bag of a film, with some real comedic gems, some actually well orchestrated bits of slash and then a whole lot of misfires in between. It would have worked much better as a segment in Kentucky Fried Movie
, where the concept didn’t have to be spread so thin. Behind green lit shortly after Friday the 13th
, the film hardly really had any slashers to really mine for laughs, and with the Halloween
and When a Stranger Calls
re-creations at the start, the middle is just one improvised death after another. Still, there’s some laughs, and even if there’s more misses than hits, it’s certainly better than the spoofs we have to put up with today.
Written and directed by Michael Rose, who, uh, rose to prominence as a key writer for Woody Allen in his comedic years (responsible for Allen’s best comedy, Take the Money and Run
), the movie definitely contains that madcap, attention deficit humor that made early Allen so fun. What’s uncharacteristic for Rose though, is how the latter half of the film becomes less a parody and more just another spin on the slasher formula. The intense chase scene through the garbage bagged school halls at the end of the film could definitely hold its weight in a regular slasher film. That’s weird praise though for a movie that’s so deliriously intent on stressing the laughter in slaughter.
’ competency as a horror film is really what plagues it down in the second half, since it goes from being a moderately effective spoof for the first third to a slow retread into slasher tropes without offering up all that much new for the remainder. By the time the end rolls around, with its routine twist and deadpan resolve, it’s no longer making fun of Friday the 13th
– it’s plagiarizing! Not good, not bad, just sort of “there”, Student Bodies
is that stoner in the back row that throws up a few unkempt zingers and copies the valedictorian’s notes before leaning back in his seat and calling it a day.
Legend Films made a name for themselves with colorizing black and white films like Carnival of Souls
and Night of the Living Dead
, and it’s not surprising that the colors on this color film are spectacular. Always washed out and dull on video, Student Bodies
looks unbelievably vivid here on DVD. The print is free of any major damage, with only a few faint white specs every so often. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks better than ever. The only real flaw is that the transfer is interlaced. Legend leased a number of films from Paramount, which is how this DVD and others like The Sender
came to be. If the transfer on this is any indication, hopefully they do more. In progressive scan.
The sound is in English mono, and it has been cleaned up nicely. There’s no hiss, dropout or playback noise. Dialogue comes through very clear, as does the aggressive and at times annoying score.
Paramount must have given Legend Films a few tips about extras. Only a trailer is included.
is a movie made for slasher fans, and as a parody that lampoons the golden age of the American splatter film, it’s one that’s tough to resist. Too bad it’s all hit and miss, with some funny moments and a lot of low brow repetition in between. Legend Films has done a beautiful job with the transfer, with a wonderfully vivid visual mix and a clean and clear sound mix. The lack of extras may be a deterrent considering how long this was to come on DVD, but for most just having this will be prize enough. If you’ve been supporting your collection with horse head bookends all these years, finally here’s a release for you.
Movie - C+
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B+
Supplements - D
- Running time - 1 hour 26 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English mono