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Pure Nostalgia
BaronBl00d5 November 2000
Like many of the other reviewers, I remembered bits and pieces of this film from my adolescent years(ok maybe 11-13). I finally tracked down a copy and the film came back to me as I watched it. The guinea pig killed with broken glass and squealing, the English teacher with the paper cutter, the merciless jocks, and so on rushed to my brain and brought back that late evening in the 70s when I saw this film for the first time. The film is by no means great or even good, yet something in it makes it so memorable to those of us writing here. I am not sure what that quality is - maybe we see ourselves in this protagonist in small pieces. I don't want to get too psychological here, but it must be something about the film. The film is about a young man picked on by all who loves biology and the experiments he has been working on all summer. Everyone at this school..and I mean everyone except a young girl that admires the young man for his intellect...is cruel, sadistic, and totally uncharacteristic of what you would find in teachers and the like. He experiences one shocking mistreatment after another, until forced to drink a serum he has been working on, becomes a Hyde-like character that avenges himself for all the wrongs redressed towards him by all his enemies. The film is very cheaply made...very dark in most places, and it is very gory for its time, which also might explain why it is memorable. I liked the film, defects notwithstanding.
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Not for all tastes, but low budget horror heaven for some!
marshall crist9 October 2001
While there's really no defending this movie to fans of great cinema, this late-night TV favorite obviously has a few staunch fans--and deservedly so. At worst an amusing time capsule, at best a deliriously exuberant celebration of all that's wrong with low budget horror films, HORROR HIGH is a love it or hate it proposition. Why I love it: 1) Rosie (DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT) Holotik as the nerd/identification figure's love interest, 2) the deliciously unsubtle acid rock score, 3) pathos galore. Plus more '70's pro football stars than you can shake a stick at, should you be inclined to do so. Edited for an "R" rating, then a "PG," then for TV broadcast (with filler scenes added to pad it back out,) this film is in need of some TLC. Having seen the director's cut at a screening in San Francisco, I can attest to the superiority of the original, rarely seen version. The audience's sympathy for the beleaguered hero remains intact despite the even more vivid violence he perpetrates in the murder scenes.
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An intriguing exploration of the dark side of the human psyche
glump15 January 2002
Twisted Brain is a low budget film with a lot to say about the human condition. A young latter-day Dr. Jekyll, Vernon Potts is brilliantly portrayed by Pat Cardi. Pushed to the breaking point, Potts lashes out against everyday injustices, prejudices and petty torments. The screenplay is witty, sophisticated and disturbing.

This is a film you will not soon forget. Director Stouffer gets a big thumbs up here. (The paper cutter scene is delicious!)
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Get Up, Get Dressed, It's The Return of the Repressed!
roddmatsui11 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Bear in mind--this is a cheap. cheap movie. The gritty, low-budget feel is all part of the fun of "Horror High." It's a fine drive-in horror film. It has many fans. It is not utterly brilliant or totally pathetic. It is the kind of film that is enjoyed by people who like some rough edges on their movies.

This is a memorable, haunting, shocking piece of film that will stick with you years after you have seen it. Abused nerd schoolkid Vernon Potts (Pat Cardi) gets endlessly tortured by NEARLY EVERYONE at his high school, invents a Mr. Hyde potion in science class, is forced to drink it by an evil janitor ("What'd yew do to mah CAT, boy???"), and transforms into some kind of horrible monster. The "transformed" Vernon then takes revenge on his tormentors (ALL of them) in some unusually violent scenes. There's plenty of bright red 70's Karo syrup blood to be had by all.

Vernon's crazed revenge feels dramatically correct (if not a little over the top!) as he stomps, slices, slams and crushes everyone who ever crossed him, and of course he is blasted to smithereens at the end. The girl who understood him (before he became all hairy and fangy) weeps. The ending is surprisingly poignant and sad.

Featuring an absolutely amazing early 70's rock music score, lots of groovy keyboards and electric guitar. The music alone is worth the price of admission! Are there REALLY janitors out there who are flipped-out violent crazy like this, scowling, cackling, and ready to launch into wild beatings at the slightest provocation?? And own cats?? Gosh, I hope not.
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An immortal mini-icon of drive-in culture.
EyeAskance9 September 2003
A legendary trash-cinema favorite. Vernon, a science-minded high school nerd, is an unassuming human target for cruelty, belittled and abused by nearly everyone he knows(moronic jock schoolmates, choleric teachers, the psycho janitor, etc.). He concocts and ingests a substance which renders him a Jeckyll/Hyde type beast, the more powerful and assertive(and certainly more dangerous)persona emerging sporadically to become the "normal" Vernon's savage avenger.

Hedonistic thrills abound in this cherished little Crown International Pictures wonder, a perennial staple on late-night creature feature shows during the 70s and 80s. HORROR HIGH is a golden memory for many a horror fan who grew up during that time, and I suspect that the younger generation of viewers will be similarly appreciative of its surprising brutality and lovable low-grade virtues.

An all time great...of sorts. 7/10
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Twisted Brain Revival!
hvalencia19 November 2001
I am so pleased to see so many people have seen this movie....of course...late night on Elvira or Grimsley. My sister and I used to laugh hysterically at this. I mean with a name like Vernon Potts..you're going to get picked on! We used to say lines from this movie...we knew it word for word!

So now we are in the DVD age and I am looking to replace the really bad and really old VHS copy I made from one of our late night viewings! I need to add this one to my collection.

But on to the film......Everything about it shows the start of teen horror flicks. These guys pioneered the "outcast teenager". This is Carrie, Prom Night......all the horror flicks of the eighties.

I especially like the drawn out interogation of Vernon by the detective. The delays in response, as if they are reading from cue cards, is hysterical.

I really am pleased, like the rest of you, to know that I am not the only one who watched this movie and remembered it all these years.
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teen wolf meets jekyll and hyde
MovieLoonie18 October 2005
Really really bad movie. Fun to watch. Young bullied chemistry nerd accidentally becomes his own guinea pig. Movie is crazily stitched together. There is a large sequence that documents the personal life of his absent father and his rocky relationship with his girlfriend, just enough to make them seem like important characters, then the sequence arbitrarily ends and we never see them again. There is a janitor that apparently lives at the school and dresses like a homeless man. There is also another sequence that borders homo-eroticism that involves half naked football players in a circle playing 'keep away' against the nerd, who fruitlessly and limply throws his body mass at them in a halfhearted effort to get back his belongings. The English teacher is a sadist, and the police force is incredibly inept. Very strange movie, but a gem for people that love movies so bad they are fun to watch. This one is one for your collection. Truly beyond bizarre.
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I've changed, I don't look the same, I don't think you'd like to see me!
chollyp26 March 2000
I am glad to see other "Twisted Brain's" out there! I first read about "Horror High" in a monster magazine in 1974. I saw it in 1976 on TV (at 2:30 AM!) as "Twisted Brain" and it gave me the Heebie-Jeebies! I was 11 you see. The "Janitor in a drum", the paper-cutter decapitation, and the cleat stomping were quite disturbing to me (and for some reason still are). I later told a friend and whenever it came on, we would set alarms at our respective houses, get up in the night and watch this "classic", even cassette taping the soundtrack so as to relive the experience. We walked pigeon-toed, said "Vernon...that you?" and tried playing the cool soundtrack on our guitars. When I graduated college in 1987, a copy of this on a beta VCR tape was my gift to myself. Bad acting? Maybe. Amateurish? Well, it was shot on 16mm. Entertaining? You bet your bippy! I am a movie freak and have seen (and own copies of) hundreds. For some strange reason, this particular one has fascinated me and haunted me ever since I first saw it. Based on some of the comments I have seen, my experience is not unique. Maybe it is not quite the "BOMB" that some critics make it out to be. It may not be an Orson Welles epic, but it definitely has something going for it. Watch it. It may get under your skin too. Pat Cardi RULES!!
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It's Pat! Cardi, that is...
altamont21 October 2001
Like many impressionable adolescents within late-night or Saturday-afternoon viewing range of WOR (Channel 9) or WPIX (Channel 11) in the mid to late seventies, I developed an early affection for this, the perfect adolescent horror clunker. Yes, the papercutter. Yes, the acid vat. Yes, the cleats. And hell yes... Mister Mumps. Whatever Pat Cardi's shortcomings as an actor, he made a convincing tortured high-school Jeckyll & Hyde. I never found it particularly terrifying except perhaps for that hideous ballad in the background as Vernon rides his bike to school, but it's far more compelling in a (relatively) innocently creepy way than the slicker and more cynically formulaic eighties slasher flicks that followed. Like 'Plan 9' and 'Silent Night, Bloody Night' (both big in the 9/11 universe, and endlessly repeated since the broadcast rights must have been cheap... thank Jah I came of age before the infomercial era), it rightly belongs to the Cinema of Obsession, all the more convincingly when you're 16 and watching it for the fifth time at 2:45am.

There's something to be said for a teen revenge flick that could have plausibly been written and directed by a pimply adolescent.

Reading some of the other comments reminded me that this was also one of the films that made me realize that my early tastes in cult film weren't nearly so obscure as I thought. I remember being flabbergasted as a junior in high school circa 1979 to meet a fairly cute, well-adjusted girl from another school who had seen it three or four times
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I really liked this w/o respecting it in the least
eileenmchenry15 October 2005
Considering the budget, I have to say this movie really succeeded. It had some great seat-jumper moments far above what I hoped to see in a film of this caliber. The chemistry test scene was utterly delicious. The acting was really very good -- you could tell everyone was serious about making this movie even though they really had no business doing that. The pace was good, the story was sound, the makeups and costumes were good (especially with what had to be a buck-ninety-eight effects bankroll), most of the camera work and stuff was pretty good. And so it actually worked! Unexpected in a movie that dares to take "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" into the recess yard.
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Bad, depressing, but strangely memorable
mercuryix17 September 2000
Interesting coincidence between myself and many of the reviewers who were scared by this movie; we were all 11 or younger when we saw it, and it was always on late night t.v.! There are two reasons for this; irresponsible parents letting us watch t.v. alone that late, and irresponsible t.v. stations showing violence this graphic, even late at night. The movie, shot on dark 16 mm, depicts scenes of fingers graphically sliced off by paper cutters, teenage students savagely beaten by psychotic janitors, a janitor who gets dissolved by acid, graphic shots of a sadistic coach being shredded by the lead character wearing cleats, and much, much more. There is a curious reality to these scenes, lent to it by the matter-of-fact grittiness and low-budget camerawork; they are shot with a definite leaning toward sadism, and it is curious this was allowed on network t.v. even late at night in the mid-seventies. Everyone in this movie, save for a few characters, is sadistic. The lead character suffers a particularly brutal death, as his angelic girlfriend watches, helpless to save him. The end. Not a view of the world you want your ten year-old kid watching. (Though today's ten year-olds are completing their collection of serial-killer trading cards.)

I saw this again years later, and rather than being scared, was simply depressed by the mean-spiritedness of the film and actually annoyed at the picked-on "sympathetic" lead character; had this kid ever heard of changing schools? Of course this is the kind of setting where there is only one high school in a hundred miles.

The acting is unbelievably bad, save for the title actor, and Austin Stoker, who acts as if he's in a better movie than he is as the police detective. One gets the feeling that he had some control over which scenes he appeared in (his character follows up after the sickening scenes of violence, but does not appear in them), and that he must have known at some point that this movie wasn't going to propel his career upwards. It's interesting how many actors (excluding Stoker) in this film never made another one, including the lead. One wonders why? Three out of ten stars.
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Twisted Brainiacs Unite!
chuckthomas6927 August 2005
Wow... Reading through these comments is giving me goose bumps! For years, no one I asked had ever seen (or heard of) this nasty little movie, but now I see that I am not alone after all!

My experience of Twisted Brain is nearly identical to many others here: I was 11 years old when my best friend and I saw this movie on Pittsburgh, PA's Chiller Theater. Ever since that night, I have never looked at a paper-cutter or a pair of cleats the same way.

As many of you have said, there is something about this gritty, low-budget shocker that just sticks with you. It's not that this is a good movie, but obviously it had a lasting impression on a whole generation of us. Even now, I can remember the grainy film and cheesetastic music, the vat of acid, the brutal murders. I will never forget that first viewing of this film.

I can't say that I recommend it, exactly. It may be a you-had-to-be-there kind of experience for those of us who saw it back in the day, and I'm sure Twisted Brain may not hold up well after all these years. I'm just really glad to read that so many others had the same experience of it that I did.
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left me disturbed and upset.....
jlopez-618 December 2000
I am amazed so many people saw this film in the same situation (younger,late night on network tv,during the early to mid seventies,,) I thought i was the only person to have been moved by it. I am not saying i thought it was bad or good, but memorable in a sad disturbing way.... I remember feeling really bad at the end of film with the sad song played during vernon's death.....tragic....
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high school Jekyll & Hyde/nerd's revenge flick, and pretty entertaining
FieCrier3 July 2005
While very low-budget, this is still a pretty enjoyable simple horror film. A gawky, geeky high school student gets bullied by his teachers and classmates. He gets revenge.

How he gets revenge is foreshadowed by the fact that the movie begins during an English class in which the teacher has finished showing the first half of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie. Twisted Brain is itself a sort of Jekyll and Hyde remake. The student accidentally handed in a biology report instead of his paper on Stevenson, and the teacher gives him an F on the Stevenson report, and chops his biology paper up with her paper cutter. Those old paper cutters are like machetes! Turns out the student was working on a potion to change the physical strength of living creatures. After his guinea pig kills the janitor's cat, the janitor forces him to drink the potion for some reason, and there's conveniently a barrel of acid in the lab....

Meanwhile, he finds he's less shy in his normal form and starts warming up to a girl he had a crush on. Like Jekyll, the potion also starts trying to change him even when he hasn't drunk it.

I watched it on one of the DVDs in Rhino's Horrible Horrors Vol. 1 box set. It's not horrible, just cheap. Apart from the gore scenes, it almost feels like a Saturday morning TV movie. It's too bad there's not a commentary track.
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Lance-2911 August 1999
What can I say, my friend Jason H. was able to scare me by simply walking pigeon-toed towards me and repeating..."Vernon, VERNON...TWISTED BRAIN!!!!" I saw this on 'Son-of-Chill Theater' when I was about in 1st grade. Christ it's no friggin' wonder why I was scared to go to bed alone, and coincidentally why I was so mean to nerds who did poorly in science! It was a great movie, although I'm afraid to let memory mix with reality by actually seeing it!! The Face Stomping scene was brutal, but it was weird how I still felt sorry for the 'Twisted Geek'.~Lance
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Nostalgia for me too
mdavidsnyder18 June 2004
This is definitely one of those films that I clearly remember watching on Saturday afternoon creature double feature here on the East Coast. Man I miss those days when whacked out old flicks from the 60's & 70's played then or late late nights.

This film left such an impression that I sought out a copy of the film when I attended a convention and own it alongside the deathmaster, Dracula Vs frankenstein, squirm & the incredible two headed transplant...now i just gotta find encounters with the unknown..

If you like bad cheapo horror from the 70's...watch this film find it own it LOVE IT
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I seen this on Late Night TV too
kengor14 November 2004
Yeah, along with others, I saw this on late night TV. It was on Ghost Host Theatre (on channel 45, Baltimore) back in the late 70's /early 80's. It was amazingly bloody, mean and violent for broadcast TV. It's been years since I seen it, but I do remember:

a scene with a sink full of blood

a head floating around in a vat of acid (why the hell would a high school have something like that sitting around?)

Been trying to find this movie for years since I couldn't remember the title of it. It is sort of on DVD in the collection "Horrible Horrors Vol 1".
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Stayed with me
cyoungab3 February 2004
This is one of the few horror movies that truly scared me. I saw it when I was 11 or 12. I think it was channel 9 or 13. It was an afternoon movie. I can barely remember any of it now, but the scenes I remember truly freaked me out. I know it was schlocky, but when the nerd/monster was running through the school at night, my heart was in my throat. When he found the girl behind the door, I could barely watch. I also remember a guy hanging from a rope in the gymnasium, and a taunting jock getting pulled through a window and pummeled. Some movies stay with you. This one definitely did. As a film geek screenwriter, I am still fascinated by the effect this movie had on me. I'm almost afraid to see it again, afraid it might not stand up after all these years. Maybe it should just stay a scary childhood memory. Unless someone down here has a copy I could borrow.
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A sick & twisted... gem
twilk23 December 2005
One Friday night, over a quarter century ago, I remember watching channel 7 in Detroit (when TV stations actually showed MOVIES, not reruns and infomercials) when this little "gem" showed up as the latter end of a double feature.

Sure it was cheaply made, but hey, it was kind of cool to see the "janitor in the drum" (the product was undoubtedly the inspiration for the scene). And the "cleats"… ouch. Indeed, I can't recall EVER seeing a more violent movie on TV. Heck, theatrical releases and Showtime don't even get this far over the top. I mean, a barrel of acid, with a dissolving head in it is NOT something you see every day. This is most true definition of a "cult" film. I have no idea if this ever got released theatrically, but it's reputation spread to local stations, where it got slipped in very late at night, probably without the knowledge, much less the permission of the programming director. It clearly was meant to be a joke by the people that actually had to put the movies on the air. By the people who really could relate to the "creeper". And we are all grateful to them.
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Ah, memories...
SeánJ10 January 2000
It's so GOOD to hear all these memories of paper cutters, cleats and acid baths are not mine alone! I was maybe 6 when I saw it on late night TV. It's haunted me ever since. Does anyone know where I can find a copy?
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A late night tv classic
Slasher-1126 June 1999
Jason Atwood does'nt know what he's talking about! Lots of people would agree that this is a very good movie. (about the scenes being too dark,I could see them fine,has'nt he heard of a brightness dial!) I do admit that most of the people who like this film think of what they thought of it when they saw it as kids on late night tv. I see movies on video store shelves all the time that are totally stupid and I can't say that about this one. This was the goriest movie I could find on network tv. A guys face melting off after being dipped in acid,and a guy getting brutally stomped to death with steel baseball cleets are a few things to look for in this movie! The acting is'nt too bad either,you kind of get to feel bad for the main character,its cool to see him get his revenge. (even though he does go a little overboard) I'd like to see this movie make a comeback! If anybody else remembers this movie,write a review,I'd like to see what you think.
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Classic Revenge of the Nerd; Horror Style!
Coventry11 October 2009
This appears to be another one of those obscure early 70's cult favorites that a lot of people vividly remember as one of many nostalgic late Saturday night flicks that turned them into horror fans for life. Although I'm from a different generation, I'm fascinated by tracking down these movies based solely on the enthusiast reviews of first-hour fans. Sometimes you stumble upon hidden gems like way (for example "Where have all the People Gone") and sometimes you find movies of which you don't understand the fuzz about. "Horror High" is a bit in between; not an undiscovered masterpiece but definitely not a waste of time, neither. It's a fun and light-headed little monster movie with a handful of cool gore effects and even a couple of suspenseful moments. The film is basically a high-school variation on "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" – the opening sequences even openly refer to Robert Louis Stevenson's legendary horror story – with a nerdy chemistry whiz kid transforming into an aggressive monster, through drinking a self made potion, and executing bloody revenge against all those who wronged him. Vernon Potts is a typical high school loner who's continuously experimenting in the chemistry room, but further neglects all the other classes. He's the prime target of mockery in school; for the football jocks but also for the sadistic teachers and nasty janitor. When the latter forces Vernon to drink the potion that drove his Guinea Pig Mr. Mumps crazy with aggression, he becomes his vengeful alter ego. Soon the malignant English teacher Mrs. Grindstaff and the corrupt coach McCall will experience Vernon's wrath. "Horror High" is a hugely predictable and sometimes even downright boring, but it undeniably remains a charming and adorably shlocky 70's effort. The trashy low-budget make up effects are tremendously entertaining to watch (imagine yourself faces being pushed into barrels full of acid, fingers being cut off under a paper-guillotine and bodies being spiked through gym shoes) and the unknown lead player Pat Cardi does a fantastic job as the tormented nerd. Halfway through the film, there's a completely irrelevant and pointless interlude in which the film follows around Vernon's estranged father as he's arguing with his new girlfriend and making a business phone call. If anyone can explain the significance of these 10 totally unnecessary padding minutes, please email me!
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Good, schlocky 70's drive-in horror fun
Woodyanders26 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Mild-mannered high school student Vernon Potts is a strong candidate for the Pencil Neck Geek of the Year Award. The thuggish jocks in his gym class are always ruthlessly picking on him and beating him up. His bitchy English teacher gives him mucho flack for only caring about biology and chemistry. Vernon's negligent, self-absorbed dad is so wrapped up in making a fast buck that he completely ignores the poor boy. Even the grubby, mean-spirited janitor constantly browbeats him. After being forced to drink a special liquid formula he created for a biology experiment, Vernon acquires the necessary power to violently turn the tables on his cruel tormentors. Wormy, sniveling mouse Vernon occasionally mutates into a hairy, club-footed humanoid monster which embarks on a grisly murderous rampage, brutally slaying everyone who ever treated him badly. The custodian has his face dunked in a steaming vat of sulfuric acid, the English teacher has her hand lobbed off with a paper cutter, and, best of all, the malicious blackmailing football coach gets messily hashed when Vernon stomps all over his squat body while wearing spiked running shoes!

Okay, I'll admit that this shoddily made low-budget male adolescent revenge horror fantasy clunker is so incredibly bad that it's often downright gut-busting, but I nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed it just the same. Larry N. Stouffer's ham-fisted direction is loaded with lots of laughably inept affectations; his maladroit use of oddly tinted camera angles in order to capture and convey a creepy mood of impending menace in particular stands out as a tremendous source of inadvertent hilarity. Erstwhile child star Pat Cardi gives a nice, personable portrayal of the pitiably meek Vernon, but the rest of the cast, which includes the ever-smooth and ingratiating Austin ("Assault on Precinct 13") Stoker as the casually assiduous cop investigating the killings and "Don't Look in the Basement" 's Rosie Holotik as the fetching heroine, deliver comically dreadful performances. (Cardi and Stoker also appeared together in "Battle for the Planet of the Apes.") Even 70's football stars Mean Joe Greene, Calvin Hill and Craig Morton have no clue why they were even invited to this celluloid nightmare. Janis P. Valtenburg's chintzy, grainy, unsightly cinematography and the mandatory ghastly ending credits theme song (a sad, haunting, unforgettably atrocious pop-slop ballad called "Vernon's Theme" sung by Jerry Coward) are likewise hilariously atrocious. However, Don Hulette's funky, groovy, syncopated score does manage to hit the correct right-on happening spot. Good, schlocky 70's drive-in horror fun.
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So what if it sucked...
anita-181 July 1999
I was 7 in '74, so my opinion can be ignored. But I don't need to see it again, I'm happy with my memories of it. I haven't liked paper cutters since. And the squeal of a guinea pig still freaks me out. Really bad movie - high school film project material, but I like that kind of stuff.
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Watchable But Nothing Special
callanvass6 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very low budget flick, that's watchable but nothing special. The performances are surprisingly not bad, and it never bored me, however it can't rise above average, since i really didn't root for any of the characters and, it wasn't that thrilling or exciting. Pat Cardi, plays a very convincing nerd, and he is the one that carry's this film, however it's nothing special. I got this on a 8 movie 2 disc horror set. The Direction is okay. Larry N. Stouffer, does okay with the low budget he has, and there were a couple of neat shots, but overall nothing special. There is a little bit of blood. We get a Bloody dead cat(hated it), melted face, rotting skull, decapitation, finger cut off, guy gets stomped to death (you heard me), and a couple bloody gunshot wounds. The Acting is fairly decent. Pat Cardi, is excellent here as the Nerd, likable, and was extremely convincing where is he now????. Rosie Holotik, does okay here, she had okay chemistry with Pat, and was kinda cute. John Niland, is so so as the gym coach, and was unconvincing at times. Jeff Alexander, is good as the jealous boyfriend. Austin Stoker, is convincing as the detective i liked him. Joye Hash, is good as the bitchy teacher. Overall worth a watch,i suppose if ya can find it.. but don't go out of your way looking for it. ** Out of 5
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