Night School (1981) Poster

(1981)

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7/10
Early 80's Slasher Makes the Grade
slasherstudios7 December 2011
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.
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9/10
Excellent American giallo
carolinephillips-4742712 March 2017
Night School is an excellent, stylish American giallo with terrific set pieces and great use of Boston locations.

Several coeds are being murdered with their severed heads found in submerged in water and the detectives believe a sleazy professor is behind it. Add in a jealous lover, a predatory lesbian headmistress, and a whole lot of slashing and we have ourselves a grand ol' time.

Night School might just be a perfect mix of sleaze and class. It's hard to believe the same man made Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Brad Fidel's spooky, somber score sets the mood perfectly and helps it stand out among the pack.
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7/10
Rachel Ward's Bottom in American giallo
chrichtonsworld5 April 2012
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?
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8/10
Serial dekapitator.
HumanoidOfFlesh4 September 2010
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.
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Beautiful Rachel Ward in a fairly good slasher
RareSlashersReviewed30 January 2004
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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9/10
Fun American giallo
molemandavid3 July 2017
Released at the height of the 80's slasher boom, Night School probably has more in common with Italian gialli than it does the slasher cycle. Sure, there are young women getting slain one by one, but there's an element of adult sophistication and sexual perversity that one usually only sees in giallo films.

The main selling point these days seems to be Rachel Ward who turns in a fairly bland and unremarkable performance. She's pretty, yes, but that's about all she's bringing to the table in this. Leonard Mann as the detective on the case is equally as wooden. If you're here for great acting and stunning characterizations, look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a series of well-orchestrated, occasionally suspenseful, and slightly mean-spirited murder scenes, you've come to the right place.

Brad Fidel's haunting music score supports the film beautifully and gives the whole film a sense of deep tragedy. The ending is also atypical of most slasher films. I won't spoil anything, but it's quite good.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hilariously predatory lesbian headmistress of the titular "night school" who's eager to comfort a jilted student by inviting her to her place and molesting her. It's wild and you could only find something like this in the pre-PC 70's and 80's.

Slasher and giallo fans should find many things to love.
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7/10
"There's always a reason"
lost-in-limbo9 October 2010
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.
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7/10
Hidden Gem
nick12123513 August 2017
This really is somewhat of a hidden gem among slashers, which as you will know if you are a slasher aficionado, is a valuable find. I went into Night School not really expecting much for some reason. Well, I say 'for some reason', but let's face it- even if you are a hardcore slasher and/or horror fan, you can't deny the fact that most of these films can be unoriginal at best and downright trash more often than you'd like to admit. Especially 80's slashers, i'm sad to say. But every so often in our sojourns we find a pleasant surprise that makes the hours spent watching awful movies worthwhile. Night School is one of those movies. This film, while really not too original, is still head and shoulders above most of its peers. Beholden more to the Italian giallo of the decade before than its Halloween inspired contemporaries, Night School makes up for what it lacks in plot with atmosphere and campy situations and dialogue. I say campy, but I mean campy in the way that films such as Suspiria or even Friday the 13th were campy; the dialogue can be peculiar and silly but it contributes to an overall sense of dream logic. The London setting also adds to the overall atmosphere. In conclusion this film is a good (but not great) one by my standards, but don't go into expecting a typical 80's cheesy slasher. I enjoyed it once and I'd probably enjoy it again; I'd say it's definitely worth a re-watch. Oh and as a little side note all of that talk about anthropology and ancient cultures practicing beheading and cannibalism gave me an intense urge to watch Fulci's Zombi 2 again... seek it out and watch it if you can get your hands on it, that one is highly recommended if you like Italian cannibal exploitation films.
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9/10
Fabulous Giallo Thrills In America
marcusgrant-8663014 September 2018
Besides Alice, Sweet Alice, I can think of only one film that comes even close to capturing the lurid thrills of the Italian giallo movement - that is Night School. Directed by, of all people, Ken Hughes (of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Night School mixes class with vulgar sleaze to a delicious and fun effect.

Rachel Ward makes her film debut as Eleanor, the troubled girlfriend of a horny college professor whose female students keep turning up decapitated with their severed heads submerged in water. Who's behind all this madness?

Night School is short on actual gore, but the attacks themselves are shockingly violent, icky, and bloody. There's an intensity to these attacks that's still fairly alarming even in this day and age. They're pretty vicious.

The film gets extra sleaze points for a hilariously campy subplot involving the predatory lesbian headmistress of the school who turns out to be just as big of a sexual harasser as the professor she scolds.

If Night School had to be criticized for anything, it would be for the fairly dull police procedural element of the film. It does help give it that giallo-flair, but I almost wonder if it wouldn't have been more interesting to have had another female student play detective in an effort to save her classmates and figure out who's behind the leather jumpsuit.

Flaws aside, Night School is still way better than most of the slashers of that era and deserves a second look.
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7/10
Night School of Death
andrabem-118 October 2011
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.
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6/10
Schools Out For…EVER!
Coventry6 February 2008
Like sadly too often the case with early 80's slasher-movies, this one honestly isn't as bad as the rating & reputation suggest and it obviously all depends on the viewers' prior expectations. If you're set to see a mindless and undemanding stalk 'n slash effort, you get just that, but with a tidbit of goodwill, you'll even notice and appreciate the creators' slightly more ambitious intentions. The vast majority of contemporary slasher flicks were blind copies of "Halloween", but "Night School" looks for role models that predate Carpenter's horror milestone by several years, more particularly Alfred Hitchcock (oh yes, yet another shower sequence) and various Italian Giallo movies! The killer's disguise and modus operandi, as well as the profile of the victims and several red herrings along the way, seem to come straight out of the script of the typical Giallo-effort. The stylish characteristics and outcome of the story may perhaps fall short (real Gialli have far more complicated denouements), but still this is one of the more likable non-Italian attempts at making a Giallo. "Night School" is also clearly sponsored by Boston's department of tourism, as the opening sequences depict multiple picturesque shots of the city by night. There's a killer on this loose in this beautiful city, completely dressed in black leather and wearing a pitch-dark motorcycle helmet, who brutally decapitates of young co-eds and dumps the chopped off heads in the nearest watery reservoir. Police inspector Austin quickly discovers a pattern, namely all victims attended night school classes and – more particularly – the anthropology lectures of professor / playboy Dr. Millett. All the evidence points either towards Millett himself or towards a simple-minded waiter/peeping tom, but that would just be too obvious, wouldn't it? The actual revelation of the killer's identity is ridiculously simple and easy to predict if you only just paid a little bit of attention to small clues. In spite of the gooey sounding head-hunter premise and its listing among the infamous Video Nasties, "Night School" is a rather tame and UN-shocking film. Most of the beheadings play off screen (at first, I even feared I was watching a censored version) and the rest of the bloodshed is kept to a minimum as well. The one sequence in the Sea Life Centre's locker room is quite mean-spirited, however, and probably single-handedly responsible for the notorious reputation. Director Ken Hughes (director of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", of all people) films a handful of effectively suspenseful scenes, the music is atmospheric and – even though I seem to be the only one who thinks so – the character of Taj (the assistant) was funny!
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6/10
Night School
Scarecrow-8831 May 2008
Warning: 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.
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8/10
Slick and tightfisted slasher
drownnnsoda20 September 2015
"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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6/10
Period video nasty that for some bizarre reason cannot justify an outing on DVD
LuisitoJoaquinGonzalez11 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I had to wipe the dust from my twenty year old VHS print to pencil the review for this early eighties addition to the slasher cycle, because as of yet there hasn't even been a murmur of an outing on DVD format.

It's hard to understand exactly why the digital revolution has ignored this intriguing category addition, because it's certainly no worse than the legions of Halloween clones that have been packaged and then re-packaged once again on special edition discs. Not only is Night School one of the seventy four 'collectable' video nasties that were unfortunate enough to be banned in the United Kingdom and added to the notorious DPP list, but on top of that, its production boasts some interesting trivia.

Director Kenneth Hughes was not just an ambitious non-experienced wet-behind-the-ears beginner like so many of his genre counterparts from the period, but instead he was a film-maker with a long and varied résumé, which included a few high-profile efforts. Perhaps even more bewildering is the fact that his most recognised cinematic achievement prior to this violent splatter flick had been kiddies favourite and Oscar-nominee, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The feature also handed a début role to Rachel Ward, who would go on to become a well-respected actress in later years.

The city of Boston is being terrorised by a head hunting psychopath. Dressed in motorcycle leathers and masked by a tinted crash helmet, the killer is decapitating his victims and then submerging their heads in water, which leads the Police to believe that he is a ritualistic maniac. Detectives are mystified as to the motives of the deranged assassin and as the bodies pile up they realise that they must move quickly to prevent the terror from striking again.

Even though Night School has enough of the necessary trademarks to allow it to be identified as a slasher movie, it plays more like an ultra-violent cop-thriller. It's a movie that switches consistently between two starkly opposing tones and each causes a lack of consistency in the other.The film is hilariously scripted and at times the dramatics feel excessively cheesy. During the kill scenes however, things get nail-bitingly dark and the violence is at times astoundingly brutal. The killer slashes his victims with a curved machete ruthlessly, spraying blood over the walls as he goes. Aided by a menacing score from Brad Fiedel, the scenes are intimidating and rampant enough to stick in your memory.

Kenneth Hughes deserves credit for at times building a harsh and gruesome atmosphere, without any real gore. Sure, there's blood by the bucket-load, but none of the decapitations are shown on screen and there's no striking special make-up effects. Female writer Ruth Avergon pencilled the script, which is surprising considering the level of misogyny. It's also extremely erratic and includes everything from intelligent historical references to nonsensical and bewildering dialogue, which hinders the actors in their attempts to play it straight.

Horror is different from every other cinematic genre and offers a much tougher challenge for directors. Hughes, however, does OK here and builds some impressive suspense scenarios. There's one stand out and incredibly tense scene in a café kitchen, which is particularly memorable because it doesn't involve the film's bogeyman and the key players of the scenario are unaware of any impending horror. He also received one of the biggest compliments possible for his work here, because Dario Argento was almost certainly inspired by Night School for his popular eighties Giallo, Tenebrae. Watching the two films one after the other shows the undeniable similarities and evidence.

The main problems come with the awful script, which mocks the intelligence of the audience and therefore gives too many clues and ruins the pay-off far too early. The cast are given very little in terms of concrete scripting to work with, but in fairness their performances are undeserving of any better. The fact that Rachel Ward built a career in dramatics after this embarrassingly wooden début just proves that you don't need talent to be a success in Hollywood; all that's required is an attractive face. Also, what's with the casting of Drew Snyder as a womaniser? He may be a lot of things, but handsome and charming are not two of them.

Night School is an at times stylish and in the same breath daft thriller, which suffers mainly from a huge dose of poor cinematic balancing. It is certainly no classic, but the violent and at times harrowing death scenes make it worthy of at least an outing on DVD.
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7/10
This is not the way to get a head in life...
Hey_Sweden6 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Give writer / producer Ruth Avergon some credit for injecting some interesting details into this movie, Lorimars' contribution to the slasher film cycle of the late '70s and early '80s. She had done some research into the headhunters of Papua New Guinea, and from that comes her idea for "Night School": the students at a girls school in Beacon Hill, Boston, are being decapitated, by a psychotic, savage motorcyclist. But that's not the fun part: the fun part is the killers' modus operandi includes leaving the heads in water, whether a duck pond, bucket, fish tank, or sink is used. What do the girls have in common? They're attending the anthropology class of a professor, Vincent Millett (Drew Snyder), who is apparently some sort of chick magnet.

Done in a style that hearkens back to the Italian giallo films that helped to inspire the slasher film, "Night School" may come as something of a disappointment to some fans of the sub genre. Its nudity is rather tastefully done, and while there is a fair amount of gore, the kills themselves are never shown. However, the movie benefits from its urban setting, and the filmmakers, led by director Kenneth Hughes ("Casino Royale" '67, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"), create some fine atmosphere, using the Old World flavour of the city to their advantage.

Among the talents behind the camera are composer Brad Fiedel ("Just Before Dawn", "The Terminator"), who gives this movie a wonderfully haunting score, and cinematographer Mark Irwin ("Videodrome", "Scream"), who was able to work quickly and efficiently. Adding a unique presence to a slasher movie is beautiful Brit brunette Rachel Ward, from whom it's hard to remove ones' eyes. She and Hughes were actually brought in to replace the original lead actress and director, but it's fortunate indeed that they got involved. Leonard Mann is the amiable, low key detective investigating, with the equally engaging Joseph R. Sicari as his comedy relief partner.

Filmed on a budget of about $1.2 million for a five week stretch in the cold Boston spring of 1980, "Night School" had actually won an award at the Avoriaz Film Festival in France, and remains a somewhat under appreciated slasher film. Granted, this is one of those stories where it ain't exactly too hard to figure out whodunit, but the movies' undeniable assets more than make up for that. It's a good, enjoyable horror film worthy of discovery or rediscovery.

Seven out of 10.
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5/10
Missing something, but still good...
BandSAboutMovies11 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Ken Hughes directed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mae West's Sextette. Did that prepare him for this Western take on a giallo?

As the last child is picked up from a daycare center, Anne is menaced by a man clad in black leather, wearing a motorcycle helmet and wielding a traditional African kukri. He or she chases her to a merry-go-round and spins her into being decapitated, her head found the next morning floating in a bucket.

Judd Austin (Leonard Mann, star of many Italian productions including The Humanoid) is the cop who wants to solve the case, which takes him to the night classes at Wendall College. This isn't the first murder with a severed head being found in water and it seems like there may be a serial killer. But who could it be?

It turns out that many of the murdered girls all went to the school and were all involved with Professor Millett. Or maybe it was Gary, the mental busboy. Or it could even be Miss Griffin, the administrator of the school. But surely it isn't Eleanor, Millett's live-in love and a starring role for Rachel Ward.

There are the bones of a great slasher here. There's a girl in a diving suit who gets decapitated and we see her head fall into a turtle tank. There's a head that was used to make some soup. There's even a head in the toilet.

What it does need is just a little bit more gore and plenty more style. It's competently directed and the mystery is decent, but imagine how this film would have played out with just a little more panache. I'm not saying it's a horrible film. I'm just saying that it could be so much more.
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* out of 4.
brandonsites198113 August 2002
A killer is on the loose at a college campus and he is cutting off the heads of the female students and leaving them behind in water. Poorly done gore effects, many serious situations that come off laughable or cliched, an unnecessary slow pace, and a lack of thrills & chills totally ruin this film. It's a shame too, because the ending is really good and very shocking.

Rated R; Sexual Situations & Graphic Violence.
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1/10
Crap
Maciste_Brother23 September 2004
This is one lame excuse for a horror movie.

Female students are systematically killed in unimaginative ways (even though the filmmakers believe they're imaginative) by someone who drives a motorcycle and wears a helmet, as to hide the identity of the killer (which I figured out 10 minutes into the movie).

NIGHT SCHOOL is not a horror movie but more of a sucky Giallo or a bloody soap opera. Nothing memorable about it except for the fact that it's totally unmemorable.

And Rachel Ward is one bad actress.

Not worth watching, even for horror film completists.
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3/10
Low-grade junk.
gridoon26 August 1999
A low-grade, junky slasher pic, both predictable and preposterous. There are two nice things one can say about it: the music score is atmospheric and there is one pretty surprising (if irrelevant to the plot) moment at the end. But it's still not worth your time.
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7/10
Class dismissed........
FlashCallahan1 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Someone is killing off the female students who are taking night classes at a local college.

Each victim is decapitated and has her head thrown into the nearest body of water for some unknown reason.

The detectives working the case discover a connection between the victims and a certain professor at the college, which makes him their prime suspect in the killings.

Is the professor really responsible for the murders or is someone else to blame.........

Regarded as one of the notorious video nasties here in the U.K. for a number of years, Night School isn't just your average run of the mill stalk n' slasher set in a school, it's actually quite a compelling whodunnit.

It's only weak link is the fact that the red herring may as well be wearing a jacket saying 'hey audience!! it's not me!!'.

Anyone with a knowledge of horror, especially the wonderful eighties horror movement will know that the prime suspect in this is certainly not the antagonist, even more so when he appears to be less than bothered when his students are literally losing their heads.

But then there's no one else whom really appears suspect, until one of the characters starts to act just that little bit too strange. And the makers must have thought we would have been duped with the Professer hook, line, and sinker at this time.

Most of the characters have some sort of ulterior motive against someone else, and for some reason, the Dean decides to take a huge offence to the professor just when she becomes more amorous toward another student.

There are moments of great tension though. The opening kill where the killer teases their victim is pretty sadistic, and another scene, set in a kitchen with just the owner looking for something, is really nerve wracking, and it's obvious that the Final Destination franchise borrowed this particular scene on many occasion.

The final act lets the film down a little, as it's pretty clear during one scene earlier who the killer is, and what their motivation is.

So all in all, if your a fan of the eighties slasher movement, it's a must, there are some pretty tense moments in the film, and it's very well acted, especially from Ward and that bloke who gets shot at the beginning of Commando putting his bins out.

But it's the final scene, where the detectives partner dresses up as the killer and hides in the back of his car, that just gives the film the cult following it has today.

It's hilarious, and just mocks the previous ninety minutes.

Classy...
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6/10
Sex ..... severed heads ..... and "red herrings" .........................
merklekranz11 August 2011
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
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7/10
Night School - Who knew Daft Punk were so terrifying?
deathwishryo4 January 2020
Night School (1981) Genre: Horror Sub Genre: Slasher Thriller

Night School is an excellent slasher film, with a lot of things to recommend. This is one nasty film, with a lot of well done, very unsettling kills and setups. The main score is nicely done, but the kill track combined with the kills, is extremely effective. It certainly makes you sit up and take notice, as does the unnerving presence of the killer with the black motorcycle helmet. Very, very unsettling. All I'll say is, I'll never look at Daft Punk in the same way again... *Screams in terror

Night School is best described as a serial killer thriller with slasher movie and horror elements. The plot revolves around a kill spree of local women being beheaded and the police are on the case to stop it at all costs. Nothing new here you may say, but how it's done is what really sets Night School apart from the competition.

As said, what makes this such a successful slasher in my opinion, is how well the shots are done. There is plenty of build up and suspense, a whodunnit angle and a great twist. The atmosphere running through Night School is creepy with a capital C. By far one of the best slashers films I've seen.

What is particularly impressive, is the original elements this film has. The main score which takes you into the film already lets you know, this isn't going to be just another rubbish samey slasher film. There is an element of class and craft here, completely devoid in many of the other slasher films. I am largely surprised I haven't heard more of this film, as Night School is that effective in what it does well, it deserves more acclaim. Totally ignore the 5.5 rating on here, Night School is a far more accomplished slasher movie than many have given it credit for.

Night School uses suspense extremely well and the kills and setups are memorable. Night School gets a very well deserved 7 rating and is highly recommended to horror and slasher film fans.

Ranking: 7/10

#FilmReview #FilmReviews #NightSchool #NightSchool1981

RATING SYSTEM:

10) Untouchable - Marry me 9) Excellent 8) Great 7) Good 6) Average 5) Bad 4) Very Bad 3) Irredeemably Bad 2) An abomination 1) WTAF have you done?
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5/10
Not for Seasoned Movie Watchers
view_and_review30 November 2019
Maybe, just maybe, had I never seen a mystery thriller before, this movie could've wowed me. But because I have tons of mystery thrillers under my belt I could only watch impassively until the end. Even with the final final reveal I could only pat myself on the back unremarkably for knowing the result.

Hey, but don't let me dissuade you or contaminate your thinking. I'm not saying it's a bad movie, it's just not a movie for seasoned movie watchers.
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4/10
Ahead of the mystery
Prismark1021 August 2019
Director Ken Hughes made the children classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In this giallo slasher, Hughes pulls his punches when it comes to graphic horror.

The film begins with a female teaching assistant being slashed in a playground by a black clad motorcyclist in a black helmet. She is decapitated and her head is found in a bucket.

The victim went to Wendall College. Several other women linked to the college are found dead, the heads cut off and found in water.

The detective investigating the murder horns in on lothario Professor Millett who teaches anthropology, the detective's partner suspects the weirdo working in a restaurant. The professor has a collection of skulls acquired from tribal headhunters in places such as Papua New Guinea and he might had been romantically involved with the victims.

The professor's latest girlfriend is his assistant Eleanor (Rachel Ward) who is annoyed by his infidelity and she is pregnant with his child. She explains to the detective the symbolism regarding the skulls in certain tribal societies.

Hughes does not add a lot of style with this film in contrast with Italian giallo movies of that period. It is a straightforward low budget slasher, most of the violence is off screen and less than gruesome. The suspect is rather obvious and the victims are all helpless women. There is some black humour when the body parts of one of the victims turn up in a stew pot. However Hughes rather sets up the joke for too long as if it was filler for the film.

Some of the acting is bad, Rachel Ward in her film debut is less than ordinary but she does look adorable.
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3/10
Heads will roll!!
Nightman857 August 2006
A number of Boston college girls are being decapitated by a mysterious biker and it's up to the police to stop it.

Not very original, nor is it even as fun as it sounds like it could be - Night School is another entry in the wave of slashers that would follow Halloween. In many ways this film tries to be smarter than most of its kind (having an urban setting, adult characters, little gore etc.) but that ultimately doesn't save it from its flaws.

Night School (which has little to do with its title) suffers from occasional dullness and predictability. Let's just say it's not difficult to figure out who the killer is or what their motivation is. One thing that does help it out however is the cast. The lovely Rachel Ward makes her screen debut and comes off as the films highlight - unfortunately she can't save the lackluster story.

While this movie isn't a total BOMB, it's certainly not one of the better killer thrillers of the '80s.

* 1/2 out of ****
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