Who's been decapitating the innocent girls at a local night school? The police are baffled.


(as Kenneth Hughes)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonard Mann ...
Lt. Judd Austin
Eleanor Adjai
Vincent Millett
Nick Cairis ...
Gus (as Nicholas Cairis)
Karen MacDonald ...
Helene Griffin
Bill McCann ...
Margo Skinner ...
Stevie Cabot
Elizabeth Barnitz ...
Kim Morrison
Holly Hardman ...
Meb Boden ...
Anne Barron
Leonard Corman ...
Belle McDonald ...
Marjorie Armand
Edward C. Higgins ...
Coroner (as Ed Higgins)


A Boston police detective investigates a series of gruesome decapitations of various college coeds commited by a helmeted, black-leather clad serial killer which leads him to suspect a well known anthropology professor as well as his female live-in assistant. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A lesson in terror [USA theatrical] [as Night School] See more »


Horror | Mystery


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Terror Eyes  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The feature film debut for actress Rachel Ward. See more »


When the second girl is being killed, after changing out of her scuba suit, her lips don't match her words several times during the attack. See more »


Judd Austin: Is, uh, Professor Millett in? I'd like to speak to him.
Eleanor Adjai: I'm afraid that's quite impossible. He's working, he left strict instructions not to be disturbed.
Judd Austin: Miss, uh, Adjai. Is that right?
Eleanor Adjai: Yes, that's right.
Judd Austin: I'm not a traveling salesman, Miss Adjai. I'm a police officer, and I have a badge that says I can disturb anybody anytime.
Eleanor Adjai: [after a moment's pause] I'll see if he can talk to you.
See more »

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User Reviews

Slick and tightfisted slasher
20 September 2015 | by (New York, NY, United States) – See all my reviews

"Night School" has the female students of a Boston night college quite literally losing their heads at the hands of a psychopath in a biker helmet, with an anthropology graduate student (Rachel Ward) caught in the middle of it all.

Overlooked and underexposed are two key words that come to mind after seeing this film; it's been bashed by critics and hasn't exactly gotten the love that other slashers of the period have amassed, but I knew I was in for a treat from the film's opening scene. I won't claim that the film is wildly original, because it obviously isn't— but it does have unique touches to it and some of the most savage murder scenes of its era. Directed by Ken Hughes— who, strangely enough, directed "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" a childhood memory of my own— the film opens with a horrific slashing scene involving a merry-go-round that sets the stage for what's to come. The cinematography here is moody and dark, and the photography of Boston's cobblestone streets and foggy evenings are effectively creepy. The attention to the city itself and its old-world architecture gives the film an almost British feel.

What I found perhaps most impressive about the movie is its understated yet absolutely macabre murder scenes. The body count is relatively low compared to many of its peers, but each kill here counts. The method is the same in each scene, and yet it doesn't become any less unsettling as the bodies begin to pile up. There is little in the way in of extreme gore (in fact, Hughes sort of teases the audience by rarely giving in and showing us all), but the horrendous sound effects that come with each slashing, paired with the jarring score and killer's POV shots make the scenes unexpectedly disturbing.

Off-setting the film's gritty edge is the slightly comedic relationship between the determined lieutenant and his bumbling assistant. Unconventional thematic elements are also at play here, including a blatant anthropological bent to the entire murder plot, an examination of the sexual politics of academia, and a surprising lesbian subplot between a female professor and her student. Rachel Ward plays Eleanor Adjai, the cool and levelheaded graduate student, and the film is ostensibly most known for being her film debut. Drew Snyder plays her smarmy professor, and we also have Leonard Mann as the headstrong "Harvard" police officer.

Some have said the conclusion to the film is predictable, which I suppose is true, but given the context, this was a fairly original approach for 1981 (albeit a bit of a self-conscious riff on Hitchcock and the Italian giallo). There is a well-shot motorcycle chase sequence through Boston's narrow streets that concludes the film, as well as a nice graveyard denouement. A final "gotcha!" moment closes the proceedings, that appeared to me to have been directly lifted four years later in Paramount's "April Fool's Day." In fact, there were several moments throughout that were reminiscent of other films of the era, including a bathroom scene that may or may not have been re-created in "Curtains," as well as a culinary disaster in the vein of a particularly grim moment in "My Bloody Valentine." The connections are difficult to make and it's hard to say who did what first given that many of these films were shot around the same time, but there are striking similarities nonetheless. "Night School," also distributed by Paramount, does seem to have the signature Paramount feel that many of these films had.

Overall, "Night School" is an underrated slasher film that somehow was unjustly glossed over in horror history books. It is a smarter slasher film than most, and also successfully incorporates elements of the psychothriller to bolster its effect. It is effectively shot, and its confrontational yet tightfisted approach to violence make for some of the most jarring murder scenes of any eighties slasher. Highlights: the aquarium scene, and a wicked "Friday the 13th"-esque after hours diner attack. 8/10.

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