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Anne Barron (Meb Boden) is a teacher's aide at the Jack-N-Jill Daycare
Center in Boston. It's the early evening and the last child has been
picked up by her mother. Anne is relaxing on the playground carousel
when someone pulls up on a motorcycle, wearing a pink helmet. Anne is
startled. Suddenly the stranger pulls out a machete and starts spinning
the carousel. The machete is held up in the air and the terrified woman
goes around and around - until she's struck with it.
Judd Austin (Leonard Mann) is the cop assigned to the case. He is called to the scene and when he gets there, he sees a gruesome sight. The girl was decapitated and her head was put in a bucket of water nearby. The distraught director of the center tells the officer that Anne worked there during the day - and was attending night classes at Wendell College. At the hospital, Judd and his partner Taj (Joseph R. Sicari) discuss a similar case from the previous week. Another girl was found decapitated and her head was dumped in a pond. They wonder if there's any connection between the two murders.
"Night School" is a typical run-of-the-mill early 80's whodunit slasher with a decapitation twist. This is the kind of movie where half of the money is trying to figure out where the detectives are going to find the missing heads. The twist ending is pretty predictable and the acting is a bit wooden (Rachel Ward, in her film debut, is all sorts of terrible here) but the film is never boring and has been directed with style. Boston looks positively wretched on film here and it gives the slasher a bit of a grungy "Departed" vibe. Overall, it's definitely worth checking out, just check your expectations-and your head--at the door.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Someone, dressed in black helmet, jacket and pants, is attacking
students who attend the anthropology class of Professor Millet, an
established womanizer bedding his students under the nose of his
girlfriend Eleanor Adjai(Rachel Ward, lovely, but lacking in
performance, having trouble with the dialogue under her thick accent).
The killer uses a curving knife as a decapitation device, leaving the
severed heads in liquid, whether it be bucket, pond or aquarium. It's
up to Harvard grad lieutenant Judd Austin(Leonard Mann)to find the
killer, who leaves little-to-no trace of evidence, except the
unorthodox methods of the crime scene.
Okay psycho-thriller benefits from Fiedel's terrific score which is, at times, melodic, menacing & piercing. The music provides the director, along with his moody neo-noir photography of the city streets at night as the killer stalks his/her prey, to build good suspense even if the pay-off is less satisfying. The twist isn't much of one if the viewer is paying the least bit of attention. A certain waitress in a bar, for instance..who would kill her in such a fashion? Or, the method of execution on those who attended the class of Professor Millet..who'd have a reason to use such a method and why place the heads in liquid? You even get an answer towards the end, so the reveal leaves little impact. A good twist can work wonders, but this film suffers because of that, I felt. The film also is lacking in delivering really strong attacks, an essential ingredient in the slasher genre for which this belongs. We see the biker-outfitted psychopath, with his/her curving blade, slice at the victims, whose face displays the horror they find themselves with blood spread across walls, but nothing is ever elaborated, and practically everything happens off-screen. There are some moments of depraved kink such as a tribal sex sequence between Eleanor and Millet using bits of meat and blood while bathing. And, it's sleazy..the lifestyle of Millet who sleeps with his female students or the night school's lesbian superintendent who attempts to seduce a conquest of her teacher's before the killer interrupts. The decapitated heads are hinted at, some discovered by surprised folks like citizens who find the severed head of an employee in a fish aquarium, or the bar owner noticing his waitress' head in the sink, immersed in water. The film, typical of both giallo thrillers and 80's slashers has a a couple of red herrings, such as a peeping tom who works as a garbage man at the local tavern which yields the murdered waitress and Professor Millet himself(..for he's quite the authority in tribal customs and methods).There's a stab of black comedy at the very end regarding the lieutenant, who is the only one who knows who the true killer is yet can not prove it, and someone behind the seat of his car, which finishes this with a nice, tasteless touch. I think the low IMDb score is ridiculous. This may not be a shining example of cinematic grace, but it's got some fine elements that deserve better than a 2.9/10.
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
An excellent slasher/whodunnit you might not have heard about.Brutal killings,attractive women.attractive men,big knife,Freudian Symbolism,shower scene and red herrings.Even a surprise ending,although one that is a bit out of place especially compared to the rest of the movie.It's all there.So how come Night School isn't a more popular title? Your guess is as good as mine. But it could be that it has to do with the relatively late release on DVD. The pacing is a little uneven at times which does hurt the tension slightly. And the ending could be considered unsatisfying.It's one you will see coming and at the same time not at all. Very inventive I have to say although like I said earlier a bit out of tune with the movie overall. Honestly,I had fun watching since it does most things right.And to see Rachel Ward's bottom in all it's glory can't be that bad,now is it?
The girls that study in a night school are being killed and
decapitated. A police lieutenant and his partner (comic relief?) start
to investigate the murders.
"Night School" takes place in Boston. The film begins with a brief view of the night skyline of Boston. We hear a melancholic and beautiful soundtrack that serves to enhance the poetry of city (and its people) and night. Soon after the camera becomes more intimate and we see old lamp posts, dark streets and small houses. The beautiful soundtrack goes on... and Boston looks quite pretty.
"Night School" is in some ways almost a giallo. There are some connection points:
1) Leonard Mann, an Italo-American actor that worked mainly in Italian films, including gialli like "Death Steps in the Dark" and "The Monster of Florence". In "Night School" he's the police lieutenant that investigates the murders but he's different from those policemen that we usually find in many thrillers. He's not trigger-happy and he hasn't trembling fists dying to punch a bad guy's nose. He's intelligent, sensitive and ready to follow his intuition.
2) The killing scenes are stylish and imaginative. The killer dresses all in black, black helmet and black gloves. But "Night School" is very discreet in what concerns nudity. In one scene Rachel Ward takes a shower. Not much is shown, but many Italian gialli would not shy away from FFN. Anyway "Night School" is quite engaging, charming and different from the normal fare.
3) There are many pretty girls (and some of them will be ruthlessly killed by the decapitator).
The highlights in "Night School" are Rachel Ward (her beauty illuminates the screen) and Leonard Mann. In short, I think that "Night School" is a very enjoyable film. Those that want a non-stop action film with lots of bullets and fists breaking bones (fast! fast! fast!), should look elsewhere.
Probably best recognised for being the debut feature for of the ravishing British actress Rachel Ward, but "Night School" deserves a little more credit for that lone reason. I wasn't expecting it be as good it was, but while it's your by-the-numbers mystery psycho slasher it managed to resourcefully up the suspense and intrigue in some well presented set-pieces. The usual revelation behind it all doesn't come as much as a surprise (where we seem to be quite ahead of the clueless detective/s scratching their heads), along with the second twist (which is even more foreseeable), but then it ends with a neat final one which seems to be a mock send-up of the typical shock closing. "Don't you ever take your job seriously". I'm kind of surprised by its middling to poor reputation, as I found it more than competent than its 80s crop. Good atmospheric, authentic locations are masterfully framed by cinematographer Mark Irwin. His expressively flowing camera stages some inventive frames and effectively helps building up the tension before the initial shock. He films the ominous looking killer (decked in black leather and bike helmet) quite well. Director Ken Hughes' slick touch lets it flow, nailing the terrorising tension with a real sting to its tail. Hughes style kind of reminded me off Hitchcock, but the modern unpleasantness is evident (slicing and dicing with ritual decapitation on mind, but little is seen) and lurking within is a sneering sleazy undertone. The black and white story remains interesting, due to the solid performances (Leonard Mann, Drew Snyder, Rachel Ward and an amusing Joseph R. Sicari) and particularly sharp script. Brad Fiedel composes the score in an understated manner, but it eerily works. A modest psycho slasher offering.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Night School is about a psycho in a motorcycle helmet beheading some
beautiful coeds at a Boston night school and it's up to a detective
(Lenard Mann) to figure out and stop whoever is doing this and
untangling the cattle call of characters that may be the culprit. High
on his list of suspects is a lothario anthropology professor who's
bedded all, or most of the deceased, and has a more than a passing
interest in headhunting rituals. In fact, he's so into Eastern culture
that he enjoys smearing mud on his sexy assistant (Rachel Ward of The
Final Terror) before having sex with her in the shower. If Rachel in
the shower is not enough for you, you also get a predatory lesbian
principal, a mildly retarded peeping tom with a hidden bra stash, and a
tortoise in an aquarium being hit by a decapitated head.
The first murder sets a template that is adhered to throughout the film. It's oddly creepy. A young day care teacher stays after work to aimlessly hang around the playground at night, and sits on a child's merry-go-round. Suddenly the helmeted killer arrives and begins spinning it. Rather than jump off, the luckless lass holds tight. The killer lifts his blade and she is spun into it, slashing her throat. Now, I hate folks who complain about the bad decisions victims make in slasher movies, bad decisions are necessary, bad decisions are protocol, but this lady just barely stops short of grabbing the blade from the killer and taking her self out.
Director Ken Hughes lays a strikingly malicious tone over several of the murders. One in particular is painfully drawn out with special interest seemingly taken to fetishes the victim's awareness of what's happening to her. Unfortunately after so much build up, he breaks slasher rule number one by never showing the aftermath. I mean there are decapitated heads everywhere; in the toilet, in the fish tank, maybe in the beef stew, but we never get a glimpse of anything concrete. I don't have problems with the psychological torture of cinematic victims, but at least do them the courtesy of making an appalling shrine out of their remains.
Luckily, Rachel Ward is on hand to keep things moving along. Unfortunately this film seems to have been made a few years before she discovered acting, but luckily she went on to much bigger projects such as (Thorn Birds and Sharkey's Machine) but sadly her time in the limelight didn't last and she ended up doing rubbish straight to video projects and TV movies.
Night School was released at the height of the Slasher boom, unfortunately it is a bit slow and too much talking and it doesn't show any of the actual killings but it does work in suspense in several scenes throughout the movie.
Rachel Ward's nude scene is definitely the highlight of this pseudo-slasher flick. The story opens very strong. I mean, you rarely see a beheading by merry-go-round. The story itself is more of a who done it, with a couple of gigantic "red herrings", and some totally inadequate police work. Although the film does generate some tension in the beginning, things gradually unwind in the logic department. This is mainly due to some real "rubber band" stretches of credibility. Only Rachel Ward's presence keeps "Night School" out of forgettable land. The "surprise ending" definitely will not hold up to close scrutiny, and that is an almost fatal flaw. - MERK
A killer in a motorcycle helmet is decapitating attractive babes attend a night school class taught by an anthropology professor.It all has to do with some head-hunting rituals from Papua New Guinea.Very enjoyable cop drama/slasher with some elements of giallo.There is a truly sensual shower scene with a a ravishingly beautiful Rachel Ward and three decapitated heads of victims are found in various strange places including an aquarium.The killings are mostly off-screen and there is a bit of sleaze.The melodically creepy piano based score by Brad Fiedel of "Just Before Dawn" is truly effective.If you enjoyed "What Have You Done to Your Daughters" give "Night School" a chance.It truly is one of the slashers that resembles the Italian giallo that inspired the genre in the first place.8 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the director of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), comes this less than average slasher film loaded with bad acting from a misused cast, squirm in your seat dialogue and some strangely overlit cinematography.
This stalk n' slash' film belong to the killer-on-campus/high school subgenre, such Prom Night, Graduation Day, Final Exam, House on Sorority Row and The Dorm that Dripped Blood. The story concerns a promiscuous professor (Drew Snyder) sleeping with his female students whilst his jealous partner (Rachel Ward), clad in biker black leathers, corners them alone and decapitates them. It transpires that she is pregnant and chooses to follow an ancient tribal right and remove all temptation from her man's life. Highlights include a tense scene involving a decapitated head in a restaurant stew, a half clad woman chased around a shower room being hacked at and painting the walls red and a bizarre scene involving the professor rubbing red dye over the killer's naked body.
As much as a lot of people believe the comic relief banter between the two detectives (Leanard Mann and Joseph Sicari) distracting and irritating, I actually found it a plus factor. Some of their dialogue is just so irrelevant and asinine that one cannot help laugh at their buffoonery.
Surprisingly all this misogyny was written by a woman.
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