A blog mostly dedicated to cinema (including both new and old film reviews; commentary; and as the URL suggests - movie lists, although it has been lacking in this area to be honest), but on occasion touching on other areas of personal interest to me.
This was a seminal and important film for my childhood where the horror genre is concerned. I always remembered most of the movie distinctly. Watching it again I pretty much knew exactly what was coming at every moment even though it had probably been twenty years or more since I'd seen it last. This was a movie that my older sister and brother used to watch on TV and laugh through. I found a lot of it quite funny and I'd like to think that wasn't just because I was laughing along with them. Oddly enough, I probably learned about the conventions of the genre mostly from this film and as a result found scary movies more ridiculous after. Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.
"You Mrs. Malvert."
Before there was the horror spoof Scary Movie and long before the self-referential and
convention-skewering Scream, there
was Student Bodies, a little known
cult favorite that should have been made on a shoestring budget by amateurs and
then wasted away in a dustbin. It would have but for a stroke of luck in the
form of a Writer’s Guild strike which meant Paramount was willing to bankroll
non-union projects. So a ridiculous satire written and directed by Mickey Rose
(a collaborator on some early Woody Allen films) with a cast of nobodies, most
of whom were making their first movie and never went on to any kind of film
career after, got a sizable budget to work with. It didn’t do very well at the
box office, but later built a small following on cable, where I used to
encounter it as a child.
Like many things in those early stages of my life, I
enjoyed it because my older brother and sister did. To me it was silly, but I
didn’t get all the adult jokes and the conventions it was satirizing. It takes
on the obvious things like teens getting killed before they’re about to have
sex. That’s one of the biggest running gags in the film is that couples keep
sneaking off to “do it” and then get killed. And the boys are always really clamoring
for it, saying absurdly hilarious things like, “Garbage gets me hot,” which is
itself a comment on the penchant male horror movie characters have for
encouraging girls to have sex under any and all circumstances.
The whole thing is also a mystery, playing up the idea
that every teacher and administrator in the high school is a potential suspect
with mountains of evidence pointing to each one. Could it be the principal? His
elderly assistant? What about the school nurse or the wood shop teacher? Or it
could be the mildly retarded janitor Malvert, who goes around wearing the same
rubber gloves as the killer and is even caught with blood on them: “Malvert
sometimes pee read,” is his defense. And we believe him. The killer is seen
only below the knees and elbows. He wears oversized green rubber gloves and
galoshes even though it isn’t raining, a fact he wonders about out loud during
his occasional narration that interrupts his heavy breathing.
Though it’s obviously satirizing the slasher film
sub-genre that was popular in the late 70s and early 80s, it doesn’t ever go in
for the direct scene parodies of more recent spoofs. It’s a style parody. It
has some clever moments and remains amusing through most of its running time,
although it does start to run out of steam toward the end. All in all it was
fun to revisit the film after all these years and I would recommend it to
anyone who enjoys horror films and wants to see an old school take on how to
make fun of the genre.