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Night School (1981)

R  |   |  Horror, Mystery  |  24 April 1981 (USA)
4.9
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 940 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 48 critic

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

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(as Kenneth Hughes)

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Terror Eyes  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Ken Hughes' final film. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Vincent Millett: [explaining the killer's motive to Judd] You see, animals kill when they're hungry, or when they're threatened. But man is the only animal who destroys his own kind for the sheer pleasure of it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Don't Go to the Reunion (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful Rachel Ward in a fairly good slasher
30 January 2004 | by (London) – See all my reviews

It took me quite some time to find this pre-cert copy of TERROR EYES mainly due to the fact that it never got re-released after being thought a little too gruesome to be suitable viewing material and therefore it was banned in the United Kingdom way back in the early eighties. Surprisingly enough Kenneth Hughes directed it, which came as a real shock because his greatest cinematic conquest prior to this was the children's classic CHITTY, CHITTY, BANG, BANG! Here in his last movie before his demise in 2001, he attempts to join the ranks of Hitchcock and Carpenter and create a harrowing portrayal of a city in fear from a psychopathic headhunting assassin. But does he succeed in jumping from one end of the movie chain to the other without getting a little confused in-between?

It's all set in Boston, around ‘Wendell College', a suspicious night school where it seems a sadistic and ruthless butcher is targeting a number of the students for headless (!) assassination. Lieutenant Judd Austin (Leonard Mann) is put on the case and finds a prime suspect in professor Millet (Drew Snyder), a flirtatious anthropology lecturer who seems to have quite an interest in the young attractive female co-ed's extra curricular activities! However the police are left with no clues and no witnesses to each bizarre murder and find themselves struggling to come to terms with the fact that they are dealing with an extremely intelligent serial killer. Before long decapitated bodies begin to turn up all over town and Judd realises he must do everything in his power to stop this deranged butcher from striking again…

I'm having trouble finding out when this was actually released. The Roman numerals on the cover of my print state a production date of 1979, the IMDB say it was 1981 and the ‘All Movie Guide' reckon 1980? At a guess I'd say '81 but I may well be wrong. I'll do my best to try and find out more…

Unlike many of the genre films from this period, this manages not to imitate HALLOWEEN too much, but instead owes more to Italian Giallo movies and Hitchcock's PSYCHO. Hughes makes us well aware of his love for the later by including a remake of the notorious shower scene from that movie. Here Rachel Ward is washing, when all of a sudden in the background the door opens and through the curtain we see a silhouetted figure creeping up on her. It's effective in showing us that the director was well aware that he was making a slasher movie and he enjoyed using the obvious clichés that were apparent even that early in the cycle. You immediately notice that the guy behind the lense is a man with an experienced past, it's competently shot and surprisingly well budgeted. He also manages to pile on some suspense in a number of scenes, my favourite being the aftermath of the brutal murder of a female café waitress. The next day the owner turns up to find his restaurant in a mess. We already know by viewing the first two murders that the killer submerges the decapitated heads of his victims in the nearest pool of water, so we're already expecting him to find a shocking sight somewhere or other! As he begins clearing up the tables and chairs, two builders arrive and ask him to heat up some food for them. He places a large saucepan on the hob, which is filled with stew and warms them up a snack. They tuck in, and one of them finds a hair in his bowl! By now you're cringing thinking surely it wasn't in there…was it? The chef continues chatting and pours the remainders of the pan down the sink. You're on the edge of your seat expecting to see a blood-splashed head roll out at any minute! I wont tell you what happens, but the tension it creates is excellent.

The bogeyman has got to be one of the most violent slayers that I have ever seen. He repeatedly slashes his victims with a large machete before beheading them. In one bit, he cuts one unlucky girl to shreds, splashing pints of her blood all over the clear white walls as he goes! This must've been the scene that helped get the film added to the video nasties list and I can see why, it's one of the most disturbing things I've ever witnessed in a horror film. (The CHITTY, CHITTY, BANG, BANG similarities were wearing pretty thin by now!) He looks pretty creepy too, in shiny black motorcycle leathers and tinted helmet to conceal his identity. There are some genuinely macabre moments on show, including him dragging his machete along a wire fence creating an eerie clanking sound and one unlucky teen finding a gory head in her toilet! It's also worth noting that Dario Argento lifted a number of parts from this for arguably his greatest ever feature TENEBRAE from 1982. This is most evident at the beginning, when the demented worker guy follows Rachel Ward's character home from the café. It's almost identical to an early scene in Argento's flick, right up to the dog jumping up and barking at a wire fence! That in it's self is a huge compliment for any director.

Sadly though, what really came close to being an unsurpassed classic is let down by poor cinematic balancing. Though the murder scenes are brutal, effective and brinking on the verge of ingenious sleaziness, the rest of the runtime feels sloppy and meritless with some comically inept scripting and dialogue. There's no real plot twist at the end and the butcher's identity is far too easy to solve, offering no challenge for all the junior Agatha Christies among us! The general acting is also mediocre especially from Ward who doesn't manage to excel herself in her first silver screen role. She certainly had the looks, but all the charisma of a dead fish! I'm afraid that these minor problems prevent TERROR EYES from shinning as much as it could have done and it's a real shame.

The net result is an above average thriller with some interesting ideas and some chillingly effective set pieces. Unfortunately it falls slightly short of true greatness and fails to live up to its at times all too sleazy surroundings. However, it still comes highly recommended to any slasher follower as a neat example of the genre's peak period and many a horror fan will find fulfilment in the brutality of the demented bogeyman. It's not bad, but just at times a bit of a disappointment…


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