I've said many times that Halloween is easily my favorite holiday. The month of October ushers in a cooler climate, and TV suddenly gets a lot more tolerable as every network wheels out the creepy programming. Throughout the rest of the year I'm generally regarded as a morbid guy, but during October, people think I'm spirited. While most other holidays force folks onto roads to hang out with family members they can't stand, Halloween represents the true ideal behind the phrase "let all acquaintance be forgot." You don't have to leave town to hang out with grandma. You don't have to do anything, really. Staying home and watching shitty horror films is just as much an act of celebration as trick or treating. And thanks to the anonymity of a mask, we can all get together, regardless of association or lack thereof and just have simple fun. Even if you don't wear a costume or carve a pumpkin, that's okay. There is no ball busting criteria by which you must abide, probably because Halloween is far less important to people. And I'm fine with that. That's one of the things that makes it great. There's absolutely no pressure. Every year I always intend to stay home and hand out candy, and every year I get wrangled into yelling at stupid drunks in Waldo costumes. Thankfully, Halloween proper falls on a Monday this year, so chances are I'll get to sit on my couch and ridicule trick or treaters for their horrible fucking costumes. I am really looking forward to it.
Last October, VHS Summer was pretty inactive, and I felt guilty about that. This year, I'm going to try to make up for that by posting one film every day leading up to Halloween. There will be no particular order to the posts in terms of ranking. I'm just gonna post some of the horror VHS that I really love.
Day One's selection is phenomenal seventies cult classic, "Massacre at Central High." While I shy away from comparing them, I still have to insist that "Heathers" owes its entire existence to this movie. The story follows new transfer David (Derrel Maury), a good looking new kid who by all rights should be running with the cool pack that spits on the nerds. However, David is a genuinely friendly guy who doesn't simply judge people based on their geeky exteriors. In fact, he feels a great deal of compassion toward the nerds being tormented by the school's social elite. When David arrives he's reunited with an old friend, Mark (Andrew Stevens). Mark runs with the cool pack and he's eager to initiate David into their circle. However, David's not really interested because he thinks the cool kids are a bunch of dicks. Time after time, David thwarts these bullies, and in one instance prevents a rape from occurring. The only thing keeping the lords of the school from doing something about David is Mark. However, when Mark catches David diddling his girlfriend on the beach, he gives his clique the go-ahead to teach his old friend a lesson he won't soon forget. The clique sets up an accident that leaves David hobbled and far less effective than he was before. However, soon after David returns to school, a series of mysterious disasters starts claiming the lives of the popular bullies. It's really no secret who's behind these deaths either. In fact, everyone knows who's been at work. As the popular herd thins, their security diminishes, and the nerds they once abused become the new rulers of the school. Unfortunately, they also prove to be equally obnoxious and merciless, which prompts David to concoct an ultimate scheme to level the playing field.
The film is not without problems. The music for instance is fucking awful. The song that plays over the title sequence is bizarrely out of place. In fact, this film's greatness is proportionate to how crushingly bad the song is. However, the majority of the performances are actually pretty good in that they feel very natural. What makes it so good is that there is a great deal of importance placed on the characters and situations, where many imitators emphasized the violence. This film proves that you get a lot more mileage out of even a minimal kill when you give a shit about what's going on, whereas a one dimension character doused in a bucket of graphic gore doesn't go very far.
Ridiculously, this film more than likely remains obscure due to the perceived sensitivity toward stuff like Columbine. Rarely has a film ever been doomed for being ahead of its time, but this certainly seems to be the case with "Massacre at Central High." Hopefully some company with brains gives this a respectable release, as it is far too good to have languished in obscurity for even this long. Somebody get on a BluRay release! Check out the trailer courtesy BloodbathTheater.