Joseph Kahn's "Detention" opens in limited release this weekend. The new horror flick aims to take the slasher genre back to school -- specifically high school, a place that the genre often stalked during its heyday.
Even though most '70s and '80s homicidal maniacs seemed to enjoy terrorizing college campuses, they'd sometimes aim a little lower and hack up a younger set of teens (or, in some cases, adults having their high school reunion). Here are five examples to check out from the genre's golden age. Most even have a familiar face or two who went on to bigger and better things.
"Class Reunion Massacre" (1977)
Originally released as "Redeemer: Son of Satan" (perhaps in an effort to cash-in on the '70s satanic craze), this film was eventually re-branded with a more accurate title to help it fit in with all those splatter flicks that would eventually populate video store shelves in the '80s.
As you might imagine from its title, "Massacre" involves a class reunion that ends poorly for many of its attendees when one of their fellow classmates begins murdering them according to whatever sins they've allegedly committed. It's like "Seven," only with marionettes and blow-torches.
Familiar face: Jeannetta Arnette, who would go on to discover that "Head of the Class" was more comfortable than possibly being beheaded in class.
"Graduation Day" (1981)
If there was a special day on the calendar in the '80s, there was a movie that featured teenagers dying on it. Even graduation day couldn't escape this fate, this movie revealing just how quickly the slasher genre rolled itself into a ball of clichés.
Released only a few years after "Halloween" got the ball rolling, this gloriously '80s piece of junk has all of the stuff that made slashers infamous: porn flick production values, blood and guts, and Linnea Quigley's boobs.
Familiar face: Vanna White, who would find that turning words on "Wheel of Fortune" is much easier than possibly being stabbed to death.
"Slaughter High" (1986)
Featuring yet another class reunion massacre, this one actually takes place at Doddsville High School (though just imagine how much easier the '80s would have been on kids if the schools had actually been named "Slaughter High" or "Splatter University"). Anyway, this is also a violent take off of "Revenge of the Nerds." Marty, the kid who was bullied in high school, has gathered everyone under the pretenses of a class reunion to take revenge for an April Fools' prank that happened years ago.
"Slaughter High" is maybe most infamous for its insistence that April Fools' Day ends at noon, which is really absurd until you realize that's how the holiday is actually observed in some foreign countries.
Familiar face: Caroline Munro, who is pushing mid-30s but still playing a high school student in the opening scene here.
"Return to Horror High" (1987)
Since a bunch of murders rocked Crippen High School in 1982, it's only natural that a film crew would want to come back five years later to capture the true story. They of course get more than they bargain for when the murders start up again.
"Return to Horror High" is a weird hodgepodge of a movie that's both quirky and gruesome. It's maybe most notable for actually being meta-fictional before "Scream" married post-modernism to the slasher about nine years later.
Familiar face: George Clooney, whose cockiness and brashness would serve him better in roles when a masked maniac wasn't around.
"Cutting Class" (1989)
The slasher was in its dying days by '89, but that didn't stop "Cutting Class" from slashing its way to theaters that summer. It operates on arguably the most familiar slasher setup: Someone (in this case, Donovan Leitch) has been released from a mental asylum, and he may or may not be fully cured since bodies start piling up. "Cutting Class" is mostly forgettable and fueled by high school drama, with Roddy McDowall's ultra-sleazy, lecherous principal getting in on the action.
There's actually a love triangle at the center of "Cutting Class." Jill Schoelen (one of the genre's underrated scream queens) is coveted by both the possibly psychotic Leitch and -- get this -- Brad Pitt, who also serves as one of the many familiar faces here. Pitt would also go on to discover that being a police detective for this sort of massacre isn't much fun either, especially when the psycho killer sends you a mysterious box.
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