When Push Comes to Shove: Slaughter High & Bullying

For anyone who has ever been pushed around (and haven’t we all at one point), Slaughter High is a revenge seeker’s wet dream. Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is probably the nerdiest nerd this side of Kenny Hampson (Terror Train). But he’s kind of lovable in that totally annoying way most dorks are. In the first scenes of Slaughter High, we get the impression that Marty doesn’t really know how truly geeky he is. He really thinks he can get it on with Carol (Caroline Munro), the oldest high school kid in history. Hey, older women are often temptresses, right (Private Lessons, anyone)? But Carol is only a decoy for what becomes one of the most disturbing prank scenes in slasher history. Not only is Marty given a nasty swirly, he’s also dunked nude. It’s pure degradation and it only gets worse from there. Then, he actually seems to forgive his attackers, and thanks to a big marijuana ciggy, and some unfortunately placed acid, Marty sets himself on fire! All because he dared to try to be cool.

When the movie moves into the present (and by present I mean 1985, which is where I live anyway), Carol and her other ancient high school friends are meeting at the old stomping grounds under the guise it’s a reunion. Marty is brought up in the conversation and the pranksters seem even more cruel, when, after all these years, no one seems all that put out by what happened to him.

Let me tell you, I can’t wait to see these guys get their comeuppance.

Slaughter High is one of those movies that feels like it was put together after someone thought of a few inventive death scenes. I mean, death by beer? Gotta have it! It’s all wrong on many levels – the bad American accents, the age of all of the actors (with the exception of Scuaddamore who actually passes for a high school student), the strange pacing and the way the filmmakers invent a rule that April Fools day ends at noon! I’m telling you, it’s slapdash. However, there is something kind of poignant about Marty’s revenge. As if being pushed around in school wasn’t bad enough, the interwebs have created a new form of humiliation, aptly called cyber bullying. The nerd isn’t even safe at home anymore. Whether they are studying for an awesome science exam or surfing the net for porn, the victim can be reached at any time. Maybe it’s this new age of cruelty that gives Slaughter High a relevant angle. One of the most well done aspects of Marty’s situation is that he’s not always being teased in an overt way. He’s being led on by the prettiest girl in school (well, woman really, and a mature one at that!) and her cruel friends.

In fact, Marty’s life has even merged with the cyber age recently. Check out this brilliant site someone created and pens in Marty’s voice. The blog posts feature Skip-hating, Carol-loving, bully-tactics and the effect it has on Marty.

Before the age of the internet, I think many of us thought of bullying with the physical angle, but Slaughter High takes it to that dark, psychological level (much in the way Carrie does) and his taunting could seem like a misunderstanding to the school faculty if they aren’t paying proper attention. I mean before the nude swirly… I’m pretty sure the Coach would catch on though. He ain’t putting up with anybody’s shit! And that’s where Slaughter High actually gets something very right. It might exaggerate the fact, but it definitely focuses on the cruel jokes many kids have to put up with. Here, swirly equals your jealous BFF telling you you’re fat, or the dumb kid promising to be your friend if you do his homework, only to snatch his paper out of your hands and then tell everyone what a dork loser you are. Who hasn’t had a Mary type revenge dream? I mean, even Marty has one, based on that lame “it’s only a dream” finale the filmmakers chose. You know, maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps by making it a fantasy (that is intended to become a reality), we can relate to it a little easier. But if pushed far enough, who among us has the capacity to become just like Marty? Let’s hope we never come across Skip’s jester mask and find out.

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5 Responses to “ When Push Comes to Shove: Slaughter High & Bullying ”

  1. Re April Fools Day. In Britain the idea that the pranks stop at noon is a common myth. It probably comes from the French poisson d’aprile (April fish day) which involves pinning paper fish to people and is said to end at noon.
    I love Slaughter High because it’s one of the few Slashers from Britain. Don’t open till Christmas is a big fave for the same reason.

  2. Great, insightful article! I also grew up with the idea that AFD stops at noon (otherwise “the joke’s on you!” you’re told). I think teachers and parents are the ones who perpetuate the notion in the UK, in an attempt to end the pranks early.

  3. Hi guys! Thanks so much for commenting. I probably should have looked up that April-Fool’s-Day-ending-at-noon-thing, but I swear, I have never heard of that. Who knew it had a history? That’s its own article, I’m sure! :)

    Again, thanks for stopping by!

  4. Also I think the saddest part of this is the real life suicide of Scuddamore, just after SH was released. One of his positive real life traits was working at a school for deprived children, even not working on weekends for filing.

  5. an excellent slasher film, SLAUGHTER HIGH is one I watch often – the deaths are cruel and unusual, the killer wears a suitably creepy costume and even the end scene delivers a cringeworthy poke in the eye.
    Gotta love it !

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