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Cemetery High (1989)
4th Sep 11
Hot 80’s chicks fight back against rapey, scum-sucking bastard-men while winking at the audience. (Bitter personal side note: how come there are so many hot girls in these 80’s genre flicks when the femmes at this scribe’s school tended to resemble Michelle Fowler after a rough night? Answers to the usual address…)
From the part of the 80’s when you were too busy ineptly fingering Lucy Brown (apologies) to notice, the co-writers and director of witty slasher parody Psychos In Love made another movie, with many of the same actors, and even an outrageous on-screen plug for the earlier flick in a video store sequence. Like its predecessor, it’s a self-conscious, broad genre spoof, this time lampooning the post-Last House On The Left cycle of rape-revenge movies.
The tone is set by a gimmicky William Castle-inspired on-screen warning system announced at the start in which either “The Hooter Honk” pre-empts nudity or “The Gore Gong” heralds imminent blood and brutality (though all the nastiness sadly occurs off camera anyway). If only real-life had a similar system firmly in place,whereby the imminent appearance of some breasts or somebody being bottled in the high street were signaled by rampant honking and gonging.
The movie’s constant winks at the audience and ongoing fourth-wall breaking begins with an on-screen, sub-Rod Serling intro from a pervy commentator who talks over the action: “Call them teenage slasher sluts if you will…” (The girls are dismissive: “Jesus, is that the narrator?!”). The movie’s self-awareness both in its dialogue (“Quick, flashback face!”) and execution (plus a shoal of pop culture references including Alice Cooper) prefigures the seemingly endless trend for post-modern slasher flicks in the wake of Scream a decade later. The difference being that cheap ‘n’ cheerful 80’s horror comedies like this one have an easygoing charm missing in, for example, the punch-worthy dated smug-fest that was Scream 4.
Five hot 80’s chicks headed by Debi Thibeault are horribly mistreated by a bunch of comically / disgustingly OTT / stupid / lecherous / threatening men folk at their high school “Give me a fuckin’ blowjob”, “I only need two minutes to prove what kind of man I am” and “I got a lot of valuable wood there” are some of the more intelligent things these broadly sketched chauvinistic sleaze balls utter in the movie’s spoof of typical rape-revenge movie villains. The girls are ultimately raped at graduation and decide their time has come to fight back against every “scum-sucking asshole”, forming a gang that will come to be known as “The Scumbusters” (the movie’s UK title for its Colourbox video release) by the media.
In between knowingly gratuitous slo-mo soapy showers and obligatory 80’s dressing-up montages, the girls don deliberately provocative (and hot) outfits to seduce assorted dumb men folk. A typical early scene involves gals in graduation gowns chasing open-shirted guys with heavy duty axes in a conscious reversal of the typical 80’s slasher movie scenario, though they swiftly switch to using guns for ease and convenience. The authorities, including an especially dumb mayor figure, swiftly blame movies for the increasing body count, while the TV starts carrying adverts for bullet proof jockstraps in the wake of the girls’ rampage (the “Rock Jock”).
It’s a lively enough movie if you can get over the intentionally poor, cue-card line delivery and a bunch of fairly lame running gags that are only marginally wittier than the fizzled earlier spoof Student Bodies. It’s constantly self-aware and keeps getting distracted by its own obsessive self-commentary, though lines like “Breasts and blood, it’s what America wants to see” seem ahead of their time in retrospect. Some of the anti-male gags veer on the edge of being merely unpleasant, including a video store guy with a range of kiddie porn and a typical male figure coming on to an underage girl : “You have glistening pre-pubescent breasts and well-rounded buttocks”. But, in lieu of actual horror and gore, you do get a lot of tits, spirited performances by the sexy girls, an enjoyable extension of the Slumber Party Massacre feminist finale and a somewhat engaging kitchen-sink approach that extends to a spaghetti western homage in the final reel complete with Ennio Morricone’s music.