Horror High (1973)
User ReviewsReview this title
This is a film you will not soon forget. Director Stouffer gets a big thumbs up here. (The paper cutter scene is delicious!)
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.
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
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.
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
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".
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.