Title: Cutting Class
Director: Rospo Pallenberg
Released: July 17, 1989
Description: After spending time at a mental institution, troubled student Brian Woods (Donovan Leitch) returns to class following his father’s death, amid a swirl of rumors about his emotional state. Brian competes for the affections of Paula Carson (Jill Schoelen) with her boyfriend — the school’s resident rebel, Dwight Ingalls (Brad Pitt). When students begin disappearing at an alarming rate, Brian is the obvious suspect, but the real threat may be coming from an unexpected source.
Notes: Although this movie was released in 1989, it was filmed in 1987 and sat on a shelf for two years. I may swing between referring to this as an ’89 and ’87 movie in this recap. *shrug* [bat: Some things that get stuck on a shelf age well, like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, some… do not…]
So, I’d never actually seen this one until recently. I remember when I was maybe 13-14ish, and being in some big box store (it was possibly Kmart) with my cousin, and we spotted this VHS on a rack somewhere in the store. My cousin picked it up and begged her mom to buy it for her, on account of it starring a very young Brad Pitt in one of his first movie roles. Her mom (my aunt) looked at it and was like, Yeah right, I’m not buying this shit for you.
Cousin was bummed, but looking back it was probably the right call. This movie is . . . well, it has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can’t find a single in-depth review that makes it sound worth watching. Which I actually find odd, because I don’t think it’s as unwatchable as people make it out to be. Oh, it’s not good. I’m definitely not saying it’s good. But in my eyes it has enough going for it to land it in “entertainingly bad” territory, rather than “unwatchably bad” territory.
And yes, part of what it has going for it in my eyes is Roddy McDowall. Fuck it, I’m leaning into this now. I joked a few recaps back that Roddy was quickly going to be in the running for the title of most recapped actor on this site, and now I’m apparently endeavoring to make that a reality. I could recap Planet of the Apes, but no, here I am with this dumpster fire instead. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I hope whatever it is is at least entertaining for y’all.
As a special treat (although that’s a dubious term considering how bad this movie is), I’ve invited a new recapping friend, bat, to comment on this recap. Hey, she
made invited me to comment on My Demon Lover, and that movie was sincerely painful to watch! bat?
[bat: HEEEEYYYYYY, JC! Yeah, I was invited to this through a message that included the terms “horror/comedy” and “young Brad Pitt” so of course I said sign me up. I am that person who tracked down 1991’s godawful Johnny Suede and watched the whole worthless film yet all I can remember is the leg shaving scene. Basically, it’s a part-time hobby, watching horror-comedy films and/or the original My Little Pony ‘N Friends cartoon and recapping them. I am full of snark and sarcasm. Also, I adore Roddy McDowall in The Planet of the Apes! I even have the Funko Pop of Cornelius!] [JC: I bet that’s adorable as fuck! I don’t think I’ve seen it locally or I’m sure I would have snapped it up!]
We open with shitty 80’s theme song playing over credits and a paperboy delivering newspapers on his bike, [bat: I feel like I’m playing the old arcade game Paper Boy watching this] and I had to check the credits to make sure this wasn’t a Baby Ryan Reynolds. It’s not, but damn does this kid look like him. Although that might be partly blamed on the shitty YouTube picture quality. This movie isn’t streaming anywhere else that I have access to (although if you have Showtime on any platform, it’s on that as of this writing).
[bat: I had to look at the wiki/IMDb articles for this because I thought it was just fog but no, that’s legit 1990s California smog making the shot all hazy AF. Ah, memories.]
The kid delivers his papers to the same houses on the same side of the street over and over, but I don’t think we’re supposed to notice that. This movie was obviously on a budget. The camera stops at a particular house, and zooms in on the newspaper in the driveway. We can only read part of a headline – “Boy Who Killed . . . Released From . . .”
[bat: Wait, hold up, did you see when the kid tossed a paper and it exploded open behind him but in the insert it landed all neat and folded? Man, serious budget crunch. Also: who cares about continuity!? One of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t wan to talk about how many times that old blue car has been in the and the six times the kid has come up on it / passed it in a row. Ugh.] [JC: The paper exploding and then landing folded has been in all the trivia/goofs I’ve found about this movie, and somehow I miss it every time. It’s very easy to zone out when you’re watching a kid bike past the same cars twenty times.]
Then a girl, Paula, wearing only a white t-shirt runs out to pick up the paper. Her dad, who is Martin Mull dressed like Elmer Fudd, laments the fact that she’s outside practically flashing the neighborhood, and she hides the newspaper from him because he’ll only find something in it that will upset him. Probably something like the boy who killed being released from.
[bat: Dude is dressed like a rich SoCal dude who knows shit about hunting and has probably never spent an hour in the woods, but buys everything from Cabella’s so he’s “properly outfitted”. I mean he’s driving a BMW to the woods!]
We find out that Dad is a great D.A. and a terrible hunter, and that he’s leaving Paula alone for a week so that he can go hunting. Which he’s terrible at. Good times. He makes her promise three things – do her homework, no boys in the house, and NO CUTTING CLASS!
Title drop! Roll credits!
[bat: Jill Schoelen’s face was setting off alarm bells. A quick glance and this woman dated Keanu Reeves and was engaged to Brad Pitt for all of three months, post-film. At this point, who hasn’t been engaged to Brad Pitt? Like, the list is as long as my arm. Of course I am not on it, but I am completely okay with that!]
As Dad starts the car, Paula throws the newspaper in the trashcan, and we see that “Boy Who Killed Released From” is actually “Boy Who Killed Father Released From Institution.” Okay, good to know.
Dad drives to a . . . hunting . . . place? Mercantile? General store? Look, I don’t fucking know, but he announces that he wants to bag a mallard and then an old man leads him outside where there’s a box full of big worms. The old man wipes some earthworm dirt on Dad’s hunting vest, telling him he smells too much like the city. I was under the impression he’d driven about two miles down the road from his own house to get here, but sure. Whatever. [bat: I was also under the impression this was “just down the road”. What the hell?]
Next we see Dad wading through a marsh, eating . . . powdered doughnuts? *shrug* He shoots at some ducks and misses, then a voice calls out, “Hey, Mr. District Attorney, over here!” and we see someone with a bow and arrows lurking around in the marsh. Oh. Cool. The person (we only see his arms) takes aim and shoots Dad in the stomach/chest area with an arrow, then peaces out, not even bothering to check that he finished the job.
You’re a terrible murderer, dude.
Cut to someone sticking a cassette tape in a car’s tape deck. Oh! It’s Brad Pitt, who I believe is named . . . Dwight. Well. I guess all Dwights were teenagers at some point. Okay, then, Dwight. Dwight is in a convertible, swerving all over the road and just generally driving like an asshole. He nearly hits a little boy in a cowboy hat on a Big Wheel, then pulls up next to the kid and his mom and quips, “Same time tomorrow?” before peeling out again. What. The. Fuck. Was. That.
[bat: Considering the alleged rumor that law enforcement were called to the set after Pitt allegedly flashed a passing car between takes… I’m pretty sure it’s just Brad being “Brad” who also happens to be “Dwight”.]
Cut (again) to Dwight sneaking into the high school, and trying to sneak into chemistry class. The teacher sees him, and asks him to answer a question about sodium chloride, which another kid whispers the answer to him. Teacher gives a demonstration of what happens when you drop pure sodium into water, and I think the movie wants us to remember this for later. For what it’s worth, sodium in water will go ‘splody.
[bat: I am already very suspicious of the kid in the black sport coat who brought up mustard gas.]
Now we’re with Paula going into gym class. She bumps into a rack with bows and arrows, and pauses to pull a leaf out of the fletching of one of the arrows. Then she shrugs it off, cuz it ain’t none of her business!
This is apparently a gym class with boys on one side and girls on the other, because the girls are doing gymnastic stuff at one end of the gym while the boys are at the other end climbing ropes. A boy, Brian, stares at Paula, and Dwight gives him the stink-eye over it. Then the male coach rocks up and tells them to keep it in their pants, and holy shit, is that Hitchcock from Brooklyn 99?! (Or . . . Scully? . . . Nope, definitely Hitchcock.)
[bat: Hitchcock! Being an asshole high school coach! Why am I not surprised!] [JC: Also, actual young Hitchcock looks nothing like Brooklyn 99’s version of young hot Hitchcock. I feel very lied to.] [bat: Agreed!]
Also, that’s Donovan Leitch as Brian, and it’s at this point that I realize I’ve been picturing Tate Donovan whenever I’ve heard Donovan Leitch’s name for the last . . . forever. Apparently I’ve never actually known who Donovan Leitch was until now. Whoops.
[bat: Wait, wait, HOLD UP. That kid is singer Donovan’s son? The one who was in Camp Freddy? And had a band with Monkee Mike Nesmith’s son Jason?? WHO’S SISTER IS IONE, WHO DATED KEANU REEVES BACK IN THE DAY?? My brain ‘sploded. I always forget how… tightly knit Hollywood is, or was, back in the day.]
Brian climbs up the rope like a spider monkey until Dwight decides to start fucking around and trying to shake him down. He falls, and literally no one is amused by this stunt except Dwight. Coach I guess didn’t notice Dwight pulling this shit, because he yells at Brian and demands thirty push-ups from him. Because he “fell” off a rope? Mmkay. Dick.
Cut to sometime later (that day? some other day? who fucking knows?) at the local . . . fast food drive-in? Ugh, something like that. [bat: What 80s teenagers did in small towns that had little to no access to a mall.] Paula and her friend, Colleen, are hanging out on the back of a car, when Brian pulls up on his banana-seat bike. He’s, what, seventeen? And riding a banana seat bike? [bat: With multi-colored streamers no less!] That’s brave. I rode one of those when I was ten, and got mocked so relentlessly for riding a “baby’s” bike that I invented a fictitious little sister and claimed my bike was broken so I was riding hers. I’m . . . not sure anyone bought it.
Colleen teases Paula about Brian liking her, then calls over to him that Paula likes him and she’s available Friday night. Then Dwight pulls in and starts trying to convince Paula to go back to her place where they can be alone and grab some beer. Colleen protests that Paula is classy and deserves better than beer, and Dwight should give Paula his ring. No word on what kind of ring. I assume his class ring, because the 80s were still trying to convince us that that was still a thing. [bat: They were still trying to convince us class rings were a thing at the turn of the millennium. I did not fall for this.]
Dwight takes off to get food; Paula asks for a hot dog and apparently this is hilarious because all three of them laugh. Okay. As soon as Dwight walks away, Brian shows up to deliver a hot dog to Paula. She asks how he knew she wanted one (this actress is really over-pronouncing her “T”s, too), and he tells her she just had that look.
Is this a dick joke? I can’t tell if this is a dick joke or not, and that worries me. [bat: I-I think it is? It’s awkward as fuck if that’s what’s being implied.] [JC: “Hey, girl, you looked like you couldn’t wait for a . . . wiener . . . between some . . . buns?”]
Paula starts to eat the hot dog, which horrifies Colleen for some reason, then Dwight rocks back up and yells at the girls to get in the car. They do, and he yells at them to roll up the window. Then he goes to talk man-to-man with Brian. He tells him that they used to be friends and hang out, but that’s over now. Brian protests that he went to a hospital and he’s better now. Dwight counters that when he broke his leg, the hospital could x-ray him to see if it was better, but Brian went to a mental hospital with a broken mind, and they can only guess if he’s better.
[bat: Okay. Dwight is exactly the 100% no-good, full on controlling teenage boy asshole that I hate. This is going to be a long movie.]
Oh. I guess Brian is Boy Who Killed Released From. (And yes, I know he is based off the movie description. But the movie needs to stand on its own narratively, and I’m not sure it’s doing a great job so far.) [bat: I was suspicious of him but not for that reason, so I would say the movie is failing.]
Dwight warns Brian to stay away from him and Paula while she bangs on the window and yells to him to come on.
At Paula’s house, she and Dwight are in her dad’s room. Dwight is wearing Dad’s clothes for some reason, and making a big deal about him being the District Attorney. GEE I WONDER IF HE’S THE DA WHO PROSECUTED THE BOY WHO KILLED RELEASED FROM?! Dwight hops onto the bed and tells Paula that her dad is a bit bigger than him, but he’s bigger where it counts. Okay, that was definitely a dick joke. Also, what the fuck is going on here? Does Dwight think Paula wants to fuck her dad? I mean, no kink-shaming, but why are you trying to fuck her in her dad’s room while wearing his clothes?
Sure enough, they start making out, but then Paula tells him “not until your grades improve.” Dwight counters that at that rate they’ll never do it. I guess Dwight’s D isn’t good enough for her? SEE, MOVIE? I CAN MAKE DICK JOKES TOO! [bat: Pretty sure Dwight would have a D minus in his pants… did I do that right? No?]
Smash cut to Principal Dante (Roddy McDowall) pulling some sort of cozy that I’m still not convinced isn’t a pair of girls’ panties off the P.A. microphone. He sniffs the cozy (which might actually be a sock? I’m at a loss here. Whut r u doing, sir?!) then begins his daily announcements, which include requesting that whoever drew the obscene caricature of him in the bathroom restrict their talents to the art class, despite their generous portrayal of his attributes. Um. I am never going to be able to watch Lassie Come Home the same way again, am I?
Speaking of art class, here come Paula and Dwight busting into the art room, and he’s upset over something. Oh, she’s there to be a model for the class. Not naked, but apparently even wearing a leotard is too racy for Dwight. The teacher leers at her and kicks Dwight out, asking him if he should be bouncing a ball somewhere.
Art Teacher starts out making Paula bend over to show muscle groups (. . . sure), then notices Brian lurking in the back so makes him come up on the dais to pose with Paula, face to face and reaching up so that he can really creepy-stare at her.
[bat: ALL of this just screams ‘LAWSUIT!’ in big bold red letters. Whoever wrote this either had a real big hate hard on for high school and/or is a fucking idiot who doesn’t know how shit works in reality.] [JC: ¿Por que no los dos?] [bat: Sí!]
Some time later (I have no idea if this is even the same day, honestly), the vice principal is making an announcement about buying tickets to the basketball game while a nerdy boy hounds Paula about whether or not the tickets are refundable. She points out that they’re only fifty cents, and he says it’s not the fifty cents, it’s the principle! Speaking of which, here comes Principal Dante rocking up behind Paula to tell Nerdy Boy that he is the Principal, and Nerdy Boy will buy a ticket unless he wants to be clapping erasers until he’s old and grey. Part of me wants to assume that’s a euphemism for something, but the other part of me is too traumatized by what a perv Roddy McDowall is in this movie to manage it.
Paula thanks Dante for helping her make the sale (whoo, fifty cents! we can all retire now!), then he tells her flattery will get her everywhere and requests she come to his office for a “surprise.” Nope. Run away, girl. This principal is not your pal.
[bat: Wait, wait, how the fuck… no student would be given a key to the school office. I don’t give a shit how responsible the student is. That’s like HUGE LIABILITY PROBLEM just waiting to happen. This is going to come up again, isn’t it.]
Since nobody ever listens to me, Paula goes to his damn office, where Dante is hiding behind the coat rack as she walks in. He tells her “on the floor,” but thankfully it’s a direction rather than an order. There’s a new cheerleading uniform on the floor of his office, which she bends over to pick up, causing her skirt to flip up and flash Dante. Great, yeah, the 1980s, when old men perving on teen girls was . . . funny? I guess? Also, I call bullshit on her bending over like that. Even girls who rarely/never wear skirts are conditioned to crouch rather than bend. We’re fully aware of how to minimize the male gaze, and by high school we know that guys are going to be staring at our ass if we put it out there like that, so we try not to.
This was written by a man, wasn’t it.
[bat: Yep. Steve Slavkin wrote the script; he went on to create and write for Nickelodeon’s Salute Your Shorts, and I can see his stereotypical characters in this film now that I know this. But it’s not entirely Steve’s fault. The director, Rospo Pallenberg, was such an inept asshole who was “difficult” to work with, he clearly shouldn’t be behind a camera or in charge of anything. In fact, he has never been hired to direct another film since. That says a lot.]
Dante tells her to try it on; he’ll turn around! Urgh, nope. WHY DID YOU DO THIS MOVIE, RODDY?! [bat:… money? Actors do shitty films all the time. If I had $5 for every stupid film Sutherland’s made – because he liked the script or wanted to work with someone or it was “artsy” or he needed to pay the bills – that I have consequently watched because… reasons… I would… well, I’d have some money. Probably $75 or so.] [JC: Spread that out among multiple actors for me, and I could probably quit my job for a couple years.]
Then we see that Brian is hiding . . . somewhere? In the vents? watching them. Dante really wants to see her in the cheerleading uniform, but settles for checking out her ass again when she bends over to sign for the uniforms. Jesus Christ, I bet he has a peephole into the girls’ locker room, too. This is just Porky’s with murder, isn’t it? She thanks him, telling him she’s never going to forget this (she’s never going to forget . . . new cheerleading uniforms? what?), and he breathlessly says that neither will he. Why. Why is this happening.
[bat: Um? Why do the cheerleading uniforms have a big ‘C’ on the chest? When the school is named Furley High? C is for cheerleader??] [JC: “C” is the minimum cup size required to join the squad?]
Cut to Brian walking menacingly down the hall, scraping a piece of wood(?) along the lockers. Ooh. Scary.
And . . . now we’re in a dusty, cobwebby room with the art teacher taking some busts out of a walk-in kiln. At least, I think that’s what it is. Then an unseen person locks him inside and fires up the kiln or whatever it is, roasting him to death. I think. Menacing music plays as we cut back and forth between kids playing frisbee on the grounds and the temperature dial rising to 500 degrees.
[bat: I am passingly familiar with kilns and this confused me. I’m pretty sure that temperature gauge for the “gas” kiln the teacher was pushed into isn’t remotely accurate.]
Paula puts her cheerleading uniform in her car, then screams when Dwight pops up from the backseat, drinking a beer. I assume. I can’t clearly see the label, but it would fit his personality. He gets annoyed that she would rather do homework than get a six-pack and “celebrate” with him, so he takes off, claiming he’s not mad – he doesn’t get mad; he gets even. Uh, with your girlfriend? For doing homework?
So far, every man in this movie is terrible. Except maybe Dad, but last we saw him, he got an arrow through the chest. [bat: I’m pretty sure Daddy D.A. was also an asshole, we just never really got to see why.]
Dwight goes back up to the school to get his math book, but Schultz the Janitor won’t let him in. So he says fuck it and runs off with Colleen and some other dude to get a beer. As you do.
[bat: I am #teamSchultz now. His sarcasm and the way he sprayed the window was just *chef’s kiss*]
We get a random scene of Schultz putting on gloves to go into the art room, then we’re at Paula’s house at night, while she’s doing homework. What was the point of that? Anyway, there’s a knock at the door, and when Paula answers she sees Brian lurking behind a tree. Across the street. That’s perfectly normal and not at all creepy.
[bat: Brian is a creepy stalker and this is not making me sympathize with him at all.]
She goes back to her homework, but then Dwight, Colleen, and Random Other Dude start pounding on the door and making assholes out of themselves. They’ve brought beer and ice cream, and they want to borrow Paula’s key to the school office (which she has because she works there and is “responsible”) so they can read Brian’s file.
[bat: Yep, there it is! What a totally inaccurate and completely unrealistic maguffin.]
Paula finally agrees if Dwight gives her his ring. He says that no one gets his family ring, so I guess it’s not a class ring after all, but then he agrees and hands it over. Gee, I wonder if this ring will be important later on. Paula hands over the key, because despite their cajoling, she’s not going with them. I was going to say that was a smart choice, but she still gave them the key, so it’s really a wash.
Oh, never mind. Dwight stole Paula’s books so now she has to go with them. They drive off with the girls in the backseat of the convertible, sitting on the backs of the seat instead of in the seat itself, so they’re going flying out the back the first time Dwight hits a bump. Or a kid on a Big Wheel, because I’ve just remembered Dwight drives like an asshole anyway.
[bat: What the… did you hear the sound, like playing cards stuck in the spokes? What the hell, Brian??] [JC: It occurred to me while I was at work tonight, because apparently this movie has decided to pop up in my head at random points in my life now, that the banana-seat bike and playing cards in the spokes might make sense considering how young Brian was when he got sent away. But then I thought he may have stolen the bike from some kid, since it’s made out that Brian is actually homeless, and probably would not still be in possession of a bike. But then I thought that makes no sense, because we’re definitely told he’s only 17, and there’s no way he would just be released from whatever facility he was in to live on the streets. The more you try to logic this out, the worse it gets.] [bat: I read somewhere that he wears the exact same clothes through the movie because he’s “homeless”. What happened to his mother?? How would his bike still be there if he was indeed homeless??]
The kids break into the boys’ locker room through a window while Schultz is in the hallway running a floor buffer and talking to himself. They’re able to sneak by when he disappears into a room to smoke a joint. Hey, I wonder if that would make this movie better?
Probably not. [bat: The only thing that will make this movie better is when it ends.]
Our intrepid group of morons make their way to the administrative office and pull Brian’s file. Random Other Dude (yeah, I could look up his name, but . . . why) says he heard Brian was a cannibal; Colleen asks how someone could eat another person; Random Dude replies “With a knife and fork!” because this was before Silence of the Lambs so he didn’t know that the correct answer is “With some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
For some reason Brian’s psychiatric records are in his file, and Dwight reads out that Brian is violent and schizophrenic, and treated with electroconvulsive therapy. Random Other Dude is too fucking stupid to know that this is “shock treatment.”
During this scene, our attention is drawn to the water cooler, and somehow Brian is hiding behind it. I just . . . I just don’t know anymore. I’m questioning everything. [bat: What have you gotten me to watch, JC? My Demon Lover was bad but this is just… I don’t even know what this is or why it is or what the hell is going on!] [JC: . . . I’m wavering between sincere apology and evil laughter. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much my normal state of being anyway.]
Dwight is incredulous that they shocked Brian every single day he was in the hospital; meanwhile Colleen has found her file and wants to change her IQ. She asks if 300 is too high.
No, go ahead, Colleen. I want to see how that plays out.
Random Other Dude grabs the paper from Dwight and runs to the copy room with it, because . . . I really don’t know. I guess he thinks it’ll be hilarious to spread Brian’s psych file around? *shrug* Anyway, Brian is there somehow, lurking behind something and watching Rando make his copies. I guess Brian is capable of mind reading and teleportation, because I have no idea how or why he got to the copy room before Rando.
[bat: This whole scene is goddamn stupid. I just can’t even. Let’s perpetuate mental health stereotypes and fear mongering with this stupid fucking movie that literally is just a string of scenes clustered around a shitty premise!]
Next day in math class, Dwight passes the key back through the class while Paula passes the ring back. I didn’t realize he’d only loaned her the ring. Huh. Both the key and the ring stop at Brian, with him staring stupidly at them, until Colleen jumps up and pretends to be electrocuted. Basically the entire class joins in, so Rando clearly got the word out quick. Not sure why they’re all antagonizing a kid they know to have murdered someone, but okay. I hope they all die.
[bat: TREATING MENTAL HEALTH WITH TACT AND SENSITIVITY!]
The teacher sees Dwight fucking around and asks him to answer one of those “Train A leaves the station going Warp 9 and if the conductor is wearing a purple hat what time will it rain in Chicago on Monday” questions, and Dwight of course doesn’t know the answer. He says he couldn’t do his homework because the janitor wouldn’t let him in to get his book, and the teacher equates this to the “dog ate my homework” excuse and tells him he’s getting another zero. Then Brian gives the correct answer, just to really rub salt in the wound.
Cut to a . . . field trip? in the marsh where Dad was shot with an arrow. What I’m assuming is the science teacher, who is absolutely not dressed for wading around in marsh water, steps on Dad, and surprise! Dad’s not dead! Of course, the teacher is an oblivious idiot and has no idea he just stepped on another human. The class moves off as Dad tries to call for help, but Teacher dismisses the cry as a bullfrog looking for a mate. Brian pauses, and we think maybe he hears Dad? But no, he’s just stopping to pick up a snake. Okay then.
[bat: Wait? HOW DOES TIME WORK IN THIS FILM?? HOW MANY DAY HAS IT BEEN? IF DADDY D.A. WAS PROPERLY SHOT WITH AN ARROW LIKE SHOWN HE SHOULD HAVE TOTALLY BLED OUT BY NOW OR SOMETHING. THIS IS ALL BULLSHIT.] [JC: Especially since he took the arrow out. You’re not supposed to do that. It just makes you bleed to death faster.]
And now it’s time for a basketball game! Colleen pulls Dwight out of his car, where he’s with Paula, because his dad just showed up to introduce him to a college scout. Gotta get that basketball scholarship, because Dwight’s not getting into college on academics.
(Also, I’m now thinking what I earlier thought was some fast-food drive-in place was actually just this area of the school by the gymnasium, because this looks a lot like that scene. I dunno, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just used the same sets and locations over and over.)
As Paula enters the gym with Colleen, Dante is eagerly awaiting her, chasing her down and practically humping her leg while he tells her he was thinking about her, wishes her good luck, and asks her to do a cheer for him. Stop it, movie! Sixty-year-old men lusting after seventeen-year-olds isn’t cute! I’m going to have to go watch Fright Night after this to cleanse my brain. PETER VINCENT WOULD NOT PULL THIS SHIT!
[bat: This is seriously a black mark on the illustrious career of Roddy McDowall.] [JC: Laserblast might be a worse movie (it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it, and even then it was the MST3K version), but I’m willing to bet this is the worse character.]
As they’re leaving the gym on their way to the locker room, Colleen comments that she bets Dante kisses like a lizard. Are . . . are you sure you don’t mean . . . like an ape?
In the locker room, someone is watching the girls through a vent. I’m not even going to speculate on who it is, because at this point it could be any male character in this movie. They’re all terrible. But hey, it’s the eighties! Peeping at girls without their knowledge or consent is totally A-OK!
Then Colleen whips her panties off from under her cheerleading skirt, claiming their team is terrible and this will give the fans something to cheer for, at least. Sure. I’m led to believe cheerleaders have special Spanks-type shorts they wear under those skirts, but sure. Whatever you want, movie.
[bat: These are like half-baked stereotypical characters written by someone who only knew and/or looked for the worst in people.]
The male contingent in the bleachers is thrilled to be flashed by Colleen, including Principal Dante. This is definitely the guy you want shaping the minds of teenagers, yup.
[bat: An actual principal would have hauled her ass off the court and into the office to call her parents immediately to discuss suspension and/or expulsion. The script writing in this movie is a goddamn joke.] [JC: Conversely, if this principal dragged her to his office after she flashed him, I would call the police.] [bat: Touché.]
Hard cut to Colleen and Paula sitting in the top row of bleachers, because that’s totally where the cheerleaders sit during the game, and Random Other Guy (Colleen calls him either Terry or Jerry, I think) pops up between her feet. Paula asks Colleen what he’s doing under the bleachers, and Colleen says that Terry-or-Jerry likes to hang out down there to look for change people have dropped. And to look up girls’ skirts. BECAUSE THIS IS THE EIGHTIES AND WE’RE ALL JUST OKAY WITH THIS, OKAY?!
On the court, Dwight is playing sportsball very badly, much to the chagrin of his dad and the scout. Then he gets into a fight with a member of the rival team, causing the scout to think “fuck this shit” and leave as Dwight’s dad tries to chase him down. Then he goes onto the court and physically assaults Dwight instead, causing Dwight to storm out as well.
[bat: Is it me or does this seem too much like Brad Pitt being young Brad Pitt and not the character? Because that’s what it feels like.]
Brian climbs the bleachers while staring down Paula and Colleen. Is he sneering at them? I have no idea what that’s all about.
More sportsball is played, the score is tied, and someone pulls Colleen under the bleachers. Now it sounds like she’s calling Terry-or-Jerry “Gary.” I could look it up, but again, this amuses me more. [bat: I looked it up but I’m not going to say.] Under the bleachers, they’re about to start making out when hands come out of the darkness and slit Terry-Jerry-Gary’s throat. Colleen’s screams are drowned out by the cheers for the winning basket being scored by our team.
Paula walks off as everyone leaves the bleachers and doesn’t even pause, despite Colleen shrieking her head off literal inches away. I know it’s noisy, but these screams are very different from victory cheers, and also she’s right fucking below you. Jesus Christ, no one in this movie has the slightest modicum of situational awareness.
[bat: No goddamn way. None. Implausible.]
Paula gets in Dwight’s car and they kiss a little as Brian stares at them through the car window. They don’t see him, because the movie demands that they don’t. Brian punches the window when Dwight moves his hand up Paula’s thigh, but disappears in the fraction of a second it takes them to look toward the noise.
[bat: ALSO FUCKING IMPLAUSIBLE.]
Cut to Schultz moving his mop through a mess of blood and popcorn on the gym floor. He looks suspiciously at the mop, then sniffs it. First of all, this is not how you clean a floor. See, these things called “brooms” exist for the express purpose of clearing the floor of solid debris, like for instance popcorn. Second, oh my god don’t sniff the mop whut r u doing?!
[bat: Thirdly, how is the pool of blood out in the open like that, surrounded by a sea of popcorn, no where near where the murder took place? SHENANIGANS!]
Smash cut to Brian slamming a garage door up and walking in to auto shop class, and Dwight driving his car in to be worked on. The teacher announces that today they’re working on brakes. Dwight joins Brian under his car and tells him not to touch anything unless he’s down there with him. Aw, are we about to bond?
Brian sets to work on Dwight’s brakes, because Dwight doesn’t work on mechanical shit, he just polishes the outside. [bat: I’m pretty sure Dwight loves polishing his knob. Oh wait, did I finally make a proper dick joke??] [JC: Yup. A+] Brian reveals that he used to like working on cars with Dwight, and asks if he remembers when they worked on Brian’s dad’s car – when they took that part out and didn’t put it back. Dwight says they were just fooling around; Brian counters that he wasn’t fooling around, then assures Dwight that he never said anything to anyone about it. Then we discover that Dwight taught Brian the old “righty-tighty lefty-loosey” adage, only they’re acting like it’s a thing everyone didn’t learn when they were five.
Quick cut back to the marsh just long enough to see Dad stumbling through the grass like Swamp Thing. Very important scene, this. Movie wouldn’t be the same without it.
[bat: More implausible bullshit!]
Now we’re back to math class, and Math Teacher asking another “If the train leaves Hogwarts at orange o’clock going the speed of darkness, how much does pie cost on the Cliffs of Insanity” question, while Paula and Dwight talk about Colleen and Terry-Jerry-Gary being missing. Teacher screams at Dwight, Brian stands up for him, and Teacher sends them both to see Vice Principal Knocht (pronounced “Ka-nockt”), because I guess he knows Principal Dante is only interested in seeing the naughty girls.
Dwight goes in to see Mrs. Knocht while Paula pops up to smile at Brian and give him a pep talk, then Dwight slams out of the office complaining about “asshole teachers.” Paula follows him, and Brian goes into the office.
V.P. Knocht tells Brian that none of his teachers want him in their classes, then gives him some spiel about shaping young minds that sounds like she’s trying to recruit him to her cult. Rather than being open to having his mind shaped by these people, Brian tells her he would rather suck donkey dick.
You know, there’s probably a teacher at this school who’s into that. [bat: Or a janitor!]
Knocht pronounces Brian suspended, and then we cut to Schultz on the floor of the gym, scraping something off the floor and muttering about “scraping the scales off society.” He’s also barefoot. Sure. Why not.
He yells at Dwight and Paula for walking across his floors with their shoes on, then goes on a rant about teaching them manners and how he’ll be the only teacher they remember from this school. I’m pretty sure I’d remember the multiple teachers who are going to end up on the sex offenders list, but okay.
Then he yells at them that he is the “custodian of their fucking destiny,” and I almost want that on a shirt [bat: Me, too!!], except it reminds me too much of those obnoxious generated t-shirt ads I get on Facebook that take whatever your profession is and cram it into a blurb that makes no sense. “Don’t underestimate green-eyed Cleaning Techs who punch sharks and were born in August!” [bat: Huh. I don’t get those ads. Because none of that would actually apply to me.] [JC: My cousin (same cousin who wanted her mom to buy her this movie in Kmart) unironically reposts those Facebook ads when they pop up on her. They’re all very r/IAmABadAss material. “I’m a little crazy and wild and will FUCKING MURDER YOU IF YOU LOOK AT ME THE WRONG WAY but that’s just #ScorpioThings! Tee-Hee!”] [bat: As a Taurus I’m just shaking my head.]
Paula heads into the girls’ locker room while Dwight laments the fact that he’s gotta get into college using his brain now that he doesn’t have a shot at a scholarship. I’ll spare you the weird “jive turkey” voice he uses while relaying this tidbit. Honestly, I have no idea what Brad Pitt is doing with this performance. Just hit fast forward and rob me with your shirt off in Thelma & Louise, please. [bat: If I hadn’t watched Johnny Suede, I would wonder the same thing. Unfortunately, he is just as fucking clueless with that performance. So, sadly, I am unfazed by this.]
Cut over to Mrs. Knocht in the copy room, and someone sneaking in behind her. Instead of doing an obnoxious Rob Schneider SNL skit about makin’ copieeeees, the person turns out the lights and smooshes Knocht’s face against the copy machine. This, for some reason, kills her. Photocopies of her smooshed face fly out of the copier, because of course they do.
Dwight is in the bathroom washing his face and staring pensively at himself in the mirror, then Brian pops out of a stall and does the same while they both side-eye the other. Very dramatic music plays, like these two dudes in the shitter together is somehow important. [bat: It might be the only important part of this movie. This movie doesn’t know what’s important and what isn’t at this point. Or how time works. Or how mental health treatment works. Or how a fucking school administration works!] [JC: Or how getting shot with an arrow works?]
The music increases as Paula wanders in and finds the body and screams. Dwight runs out of the bathroom toward the screaming, and Brian follows slowly. By the time they get there, a crowd of people are standing outside the copy room doing fuck all. Dwight promptly runs in and starts contaminating the crime scene, then looks at the doorway where Brian is and starts yelling that he did it! Brian, hilariously, looks behind him like Dwight might possibly be talking about someone else, then runs away.
Dwight chases after him, almost losing him in the crowd of kids coming out of their classrooms, then thinks he has him cornered in the auditorium. He shoves a wardrobe rack out of his way, but it’s only Principal Dante cosplaying the Chiquita Banana Girl. Dante asks Dwight in annoyance what he’s doing, as if Dwight is the weird one here.
Dwight runs outside but has lost Brian. And probably a few good nights’ sleep after seeing his principal’s Carmen Miranda impression. [bat: I know I’ll never be the same after that.] But fear not! For here come the cops, by car and helicopter, demanding over loudspeaker that Brian give himself up. When he doesn’t immediately show himself, the cops let loose a pack of bloodhounds. RELEASE THE HOUNDS!
Oh, hey, they’re searching the area Dad got shot with an arrow in! (Look, I just really like typing “shot with an arrow,” okay? Don’t judge me. At least I’m not wearing a fruit hat. Or . . . am I? You’ll never know!) Anyway, here’s Dad, eating another powdered doughnut and shambling through the marsh/woods. One of the bloodhounds comes upon him, eats his doughnut, barks at him, and fucks off without alerting its handlers that there’s a man who’s been shot with an arrow stumbling around out here.
[bat: I am not going to even justify that with CAPSLOCK RAGE at this point. I have become numb to this movie’s random-ass bullshit.]
Cut back to what I’m pretty sure is the school auditorium, with an angry mob of parents. Dante has finished his rendition of “The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat” and is now imploring the mob to remain calm, even as Dwight’s dad drags Dwight to the front of the crowd and demands he tell everyone what he saw. Do you mean . . . the . . . hat . . . ? Oh. No. Dwight starts shouting about seeing Brian with blood all over him. Which, uh, no ya didn’t, buddy.
[bat: I’m 99% sure Dwight needed to be stuck in the mental ward and not Brian. Or maybe both of them. For life. Because, at this point, I hate everyone in this movie.]
Outside, Schultz dumps some trash into the dumpster, then we get a music sting as a hand rises up holding one of the photocopies of Mrs. Knocht’s corpse face. Surprise, it’s Brian! Has he been in the dumpster this whole time? Because damn.
At Paula’s house, we see Brian riding his bike in her driveway while she does homework. Then, sensing something amiss, Paula starts prowling through her house, eventually finding an open door. We think Brian is about to rock up and grab her, but nope. It’s just the kid on the Big Wheel, who points a pretty real-looking revolver at her and shouts “BANG!” She closes the door and goes back upstairs, and this is an impressive staircase. I guess district attorneys don’t do too shabby in the paycheck department.
[bat: WHAT IS IN THE WATER IN THIS TOWN? I NEED TO KNOW SO I CAN AVOID IT.]
While looking through a bookcase, Paula somehow knocks a tape player onto the floor, where it starts playing. It’s Dad, rehearsing his courtroom statements about Brian, trying to decide between calling him scum, a plague, or vermin. He also wants to throw him in a mental institution for the rest of his life. Hmm. I guess Dad didn’t count on Brian being Boy Who Killed Released From.
At school (I am not even attempting to track the passage of time here. I have no idea when anything in this movie is happening. Time is a meaningless construct.), [bat: Welcome to how I feel about every single episode of My Little Pony ‘N Friends!] Dante makes announcements about the memorial service for Mrs. Knocht while Dwight is in the auditorium telling Random Nerdy Guy that Brian is probably in Missouri by now [bat: Exactly what a native son of the ‘Show Me State’ would say.], and Paula runs through the hallways holding sheets of paper. She barges onto the stage and thrusts the papers into Dwight’s hands, telling him this is the truth about everything!
They kick Nerdy Guy out of the area, and proceed to read the papers, which are transcripts of Brian’s trial. We discover that Brian’s dad’s brake lines were cut, and that Brian refused to tell who taught him to cut brake lines because you don’t betray a friend. Yeah, I’m sure that reasoning really flies in court. Anyway, Paula clearly knows that Dwight was said friend, but before she can nail Dwight down, they hear a cymbal crash from the drum set Nerdy Guy was playing earlier. We know it was Brian, who is very much not in Missouri, because we saw him lurking backstage literal seconds ago. Man, this guy always knows where the action is.
Paula and Dwight leave through the back door, and Brian immediately pops up to stop the cymbal ringing. What? For him to get to the drum set that fast, there’s no way he was standing anywhere P&D couldn’t see him! What is this fresh bullshit? Then Brian quotes, “To be or not to be. Eat me, Dwight.”
I’m not sure Shakespeare would understand that vernacular, but I’m sure he’d approve of the sentiment. His plays are full of dick jokes and Elizabethan crassness, after all.
Smash cut to boobs. In the girls’ locker room. Through an internal window. I have no idea where this window leads to. Probably the (male) coach’s office, knowing this movie.
Oh, this was apparently just an excuse to get some nudity in there, because we cut again to Coach coaching Paula in archery. Inside the gym. Isn’t that typically an outdoor activity? She seems to be terrible at it. Then Dwight rocks up in street clothes and isn’t allowed to participate without his gym clothes. Coach insists he come back tomorrow for a private gym class or he fails and won’t get his diploma. [bat: That… that sounds like the plot of a very special after-school special.] After Coach walks away, Dwight picks up the bow and arrow and aims toward Coach until Paula yells at him and he turns toward the target and hits a bullseye instead. Ooh, Dwight is good at archery! Did he shoot Dad with the arrow?
Speaking of Dad, we now get a scene of him crawling through water and woods/marsh, weakly calling for help.
[bat: No. Just. No.] [JC: Think about all the filthy mud and marsh water getting in that sucking chest wound. That shit is gangrenous by now.] [bat: That or infection or sepsis! Or parasites!]
And now we’re at Paula’s house, where she’s in her robe and Dwight is knocking on the door. He’s drunk and pissed at the teachers trying to ruin his life. [bat: Pretty sure you’ve done that all on your own, Dwight.] She tells him to go home and sleep it off, and he sticks his bottle of beer in her robe pocket as he leaves. Wow yes this scene adds so very much to the narrative why do you ask.
She goes upstairs to take a bath, and holy shit unless the perspective is just really weird, I think you could fit my entire house into her bathroom. Anyway, as she slips her robe off (she’s still wearing her panties, though, so I can only assume the actress didn’t want to do full nudity), we see doorknobs turn and then the shadow of outstretched hands. Instead of actually getting in the tub, Paula is kneeling beside it to wash her hair. Weird, but okay. The shadow hands travel up her back, and this is actually a pretty good shot here. Props to the cinematographer.
Paula whirls around with her hands over her boobs (yup, definitely didn’t want to do nudity), thinking it’s Dwight, but surprise! It’s Brian! She begs him not to kill her, but he says he doesn’t want to kill her; he wants her help to find the real killer. Seems fake, but okay. Her eyes not-so-subtly travel to the pair of scissors on the edge of the tub (was she planning on cutting her hair? because otherwise I have no idea what those scissors are doing there), but Brian grabs them before she can. He advances on her menacingly, but then gives her the scissors and tells her to stab him if she’s so sure he’s the killer. Instead of stabbing him just in case (and also because, you know, he broke into her house while she was naked(ish)), she pulls away and yells at him not to touch her. Then he helps her on with her robe.
[bat: This is all so unbelievable and poorly written, it makes me want to cry.]
Brian goes on to say that she’s probably heard that he killed his father. Duh? He didn’t love him, especially because of the way he treated Brian and his mom, but he didn’t actually want him dead, just hurt. Brian ran from Mrs. Knocht’s death scene because of course everyone would suspect him. Paula asks him what about the missing people, including Terry-Jerry-Gary, and it definitely sounds like “Gary” now. (I finally gave in and looked it up. It is Gary.) [bat: I thought Terry-Jerry-Gary was a much better name.] Brian claims he has no idea what happened to them, and Paula asks if he’s telling her the truth. He says he’s trying, then we cut to Dwight in a phone booth.
There’s some (recycled?) footage of the paperboy who is not Ryan Reynolds tossing a paper on Paula’s driveway, then we go inside where the phone is ringing. The camera pulls out to show Paula in bed and Brian sitting on a chair beside the bed. I guess he’s been there all night, creepily watching her sleep. [bat: YES, MENTAL HEALTH WITH TACT AND SENSITIVITY!] Anyway, Paula answers the phone, and Dwight tells her that Coach can stick the gym clothes so far up his ass they come out his nose. I’m not sure of the logistics of that, but sure.
Dwight, who might still be drunk, says that he’s just getting started, then bangs the phone around a bit before leaving the phone booth with the receiver still dangling. Paula turns to Brian, who is now wearing her dad’s clothes because I guess all the boys think that’s her fetish, and says they’ve got to help Dwight. Brian refuses and shows her a photocopy of Mrs. Knocht’s smooshed dead face where you can see a hand wearing Dwight’s ring. Hey, I knew that ring was going to be important!
Paula exclaims that it’s Dwight’s ring; Dwight is the killer and they’ve got to stop/help him! Brian says he’ll do it for Paula, not for Dwight. Cool. [bat: At this point, whatever, I started assuming Dwight was the actual killer the minute he appeared on screen.]
Cut to Dwight and Coach in the gym. So far, no gym clothes have been shoved up anyone’s ass. Coach tells him to suit up, and Dwight counts off three “fuck you”s on his fingers, flipping Coach off with both hands on the last one.
Hitchcock Coach isn’t having any of Dwight’s shit, and tells him “fuck you” right back. Dwight protests that he can’t talk to students like that! Uh, have you seen the shit your other school personnel get up to? I don’t really think there’s anything these teachers aren’t allowed to do.
Dwight makes a big show of angrily throwing his duffel bag onto the trampoline they’re standing beside, where it promptly bounces off, because it’s a fucking trampoline. [bat: TRAMAMPOLINE!??] Then he grabs the bag and kicks the door to the boys’ locker room open. Angrily. Coach starts jumping on the trampoline, because who can resist the allure of a trampoline, and then we cut to Paula and Brian sneaking in a window of another locker room.
Schultz attacks Brian with a mop, yelling that he’s not allowed, and I thought it was because it’s the girls’ locker room, which would be way funnier, but I guess I’m wrong because Paula yells at Schultz that he’s wrong. Then she escapes and runs wild through the school. Schultz pops out of a random door as she goes up a staircase, so I can only conclude that there are special janitor wormholes throughout the school.
[bat: I’ve literally lost the will to comment on this. It’s just… utterly batshit insane.]
Back to the gym, where Coach is still jumping on the trampoline. We’ve got POV shot of someone advancing on the trampoline holding the American flag by its very pointy flagpole. POV creeps underneath the trampoline while patriotic rock n’ roll guitar plays, then the killer jabs the flagpole up through the trampoline, where it impales Coach. Ha! He was killed by Freedom! USA! USA! USA!
[bat: America, fuck yeah!]
Then we immediately get a wideshot that shows no killer anywhere in the gym. Clearly the killer either runs really fast, or teleports. I guess that narrows the suspect pool to The Flash or Nightcrawler. [bat: Or Rick Sanchez. Y’know, teleportation gun.] [JC: Would it be more expedient to send Mr. Meeseeks on the killing spree for him?] [bat: Well, he certainly wouldn’t be sending Jerry.]
Paula goes into a classroom, where she opens a closet with mice running all around and finds the bodies of Colleen and Gary tied together and standing up straight. They fall over when Paula tugs on Colleen’s cheerleading skirt, because apparently she didn’t realize these were corpses until then. She is very shocked that they are.
[bat: Yes. Because your friends would just randomly be tied up and alive in a school closet, having gone missing for who knows how many days – HOW DOES TIME WORK?! – with mice crawling all over them but not remotely reacting to them! Also, one of them clearly hopped when they were supposed to be dead.]
Dwight comes up to the doors and pounds on them, and she locks two doors with windows in them, then runs out a third door and into a hallway. Why the fuck are there so many doors?
Paula runs through the halls yelling for Brian to get out of the school, then runs smack into the math teacher. He tells her that this is a dangerous place for a pretty girl like her. Yeah, no shit, what with the PREPONDERANCE OF PREDATORY TEACHERS IN THIS SCHOOL. She tries to explain that Brian isn’t the killer, Dwight is! Teacher is skeptical, but pushes her into a classroom when they hear a noise. That noise? Schultz running down the hall holding his mop out like he’s jousting.
Cut to someone pulling the cozy off the P.A. microphone, then turning a radio station on, targeted to the room Paula and the teacher are in. I think the song is called “Bad Talk.” (NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: Nope, it’s “Man Talk.” Which really isn’t any less dumb.) [bat: Just as bad as the smash hit of the last few years, “Man ‘Splain”!] They run out of the classroom and into another one, where they open a window to escape but there are bars on the window. The music follows them in there, too, and they run yet again. Not sure how the killer knows where they are; I don’t see any security cameras or anything, but . . . yeah.
They eventually end up in another classroom (maybe the math room?), where the doors have been labeled 1 and 2. Again, not sure how the killer knew they would end up in here, but whatever. There’s another “If Train A leaves Boston at 13 o’clock, how many choruses of “Magic Dance” will it take before you reach the center of the Labyrinth” question on the board, multiple choice this time – X equals 1 or 2. The door with the right answer on it is safe; the other one leads to certain death.
[bat: I’M BEGINNING TO WONDER IF SOMEONE IS JUST DREAMING ALL THIS BULLSHIT BECAUSE OTHERWISE I CANNOT REMOTELY EXPLAIN ANYTHING HAPPENING IN THIS FILM.] [JC: Maybe this is all just a fantasy taking place in Schultz’s head. You know he probably wants to kill everyone in this school, admin and students alike.] [bat: Explains why he’s totally down with cleaning up the aftermath. “it’s not really there, man!”]
Teacher is apparently only used to looking at the answer key in his Teacher’s Edition, because he’s having a hell of a time figuring out how to get to the answer. I mean, no shade; the majority of these types of questions make as much sense to me as the parody questions I’ve typed in this recap, but like, you’re the teacher, dude. You should know this shit.
Teacher finally determines that the answer is 1, and throws open the number 1 door. Brian pops up and gives him an ax to the face, telling him he didn’t account for the difference in time zones! Surprise! The known murderer was the murderer! Are you surprised? Wow, so surprising!
[bat: Everybody in this film is the murderer or complicit in being an accessory to murder.]
Brian starts circling Paula, telling her he’s better than Dwight and asking if she wants to go out with him. Instead of playing along and looking for an escape later, she tells him to leave her alone. He counters by saying “alone” is how he’s spent the last five years.
Wait. He cut his dad’s brake lines when he was twelve? TWELVE?! Paula’s dad wanted to lock him up and throw away the key when he was twelve. That’s bleak. [bat: Have you ever seen Flatliners? Because (spoiler) that’s basically the same plot point that triggers the actions of the lead character. Only it wasn’t murder, it was… manslaughter? Fun fact: that isn’t actually fully explained in the film, it’s only expounded on in the novelization.] [JC: It’s been about 20 years since I’ve seen that. Some of the finer details have been lost to my memory. Hell, most of the broader details, too.] [bat: *cackles in evil tone*]
Brian goes on to super villain monologue, saying that Paula’s dad was the first person to call him a murderer, and he basically decided to lean into it and be the best murderer he could be. He wanted to kill outside the confines of time, in the past and the future, and change the course of history. I mean, this isn’t the MCU, so I’m not sure where we stand on time travel here. Does Brian have the Time stone? Pym Particles? [bat: Apparently TIME IS A FLAT CIRCLE for our buddy Brian.]
He tells Paula he really likes her, so she shouldn’t take it personally when he kills her – he’s just doing his job! Okay, sure. He creepy-sings at her, then Dwight breaks the number 2 door open and he and Paula escape down the hall. Brian grabs up the ax that Dwight stupidly dropped after busting the door open and follows them. Meanwhile, they have been stymied by the chained-shut exit doors.
Our heroes end up in the Science Room, where Paula turns on a big shower by the door and Dwight searches for the big rock of sodium from earlier in the movie. Because, remember, sodium plus water equals BOOM. Dwight grabs something that most definitely is not sodium – it’s bright yellow. I would guess sulfur, maybe. It does not go BOOM. Brian mocks Dwight for not being in class to know that that wasn’t sodium, and says it was just a rock. Well, okay. You say potato, I say someone needs to kill your annoying ass.
They run outside, but are in some sort of fenced-in walkway they can’t get out of. After some running they end up in the auto shop garage. They hide while Brian locks them in and walks across the tables looking for them. He starts up some machinery, then sends an engine block flying at them just for funsies. Then Dwight jumps up and promptly gets kicked in the face by Brian.
Fighting ensues while Paula looks on. Oh, now Brian has a compact circular saw and . . . well, I can’t really tell what the power tool Dwight has is. Dwight yells at Paula to try to unplug Brian’s saw, but she doesn’t know which cord it is, so instead of yanking all the plugs, she unplugs Dwight’s tool. Brava, A+ Paula.
Dwight chucks the tool at Brian, then somehow he and Paula stumble backwards into some boxes and Dwight ends up with the saw. Then Brian pops back up out of nowhere and clasps a . . . long-handled grippy clampy thing? around Dwight’s neck. He tells him he’s going to teach him to kill. He thinks Dwight is a killer who just hasn’t had the opportunity, and if he kills Paula, he’ll let him go.
Man, this is taking “bros before hoes” to a whole new level.
Instead of killing Paula, Dwight starts flailing wildly behind him with the saw, trying to hit Brian. Unfortunately for him, the clampy thing is longer than Dwight’s arm reach. Brian throws him to the floor and starts dragging him around by the neck with the clampy thing, taunting him.
Brian drags Dwight over to a mounted vice and sticks his head in, tightening it til he claims one more crank will pop Dwight’s skull. It’s very obviously not tight enough to hold him in place, but okay, movie. I’ll pretend to believe you.
[bat: This is probably why they removed shop classes from public education.]
Paula begs Brian to let Dwight out of that thing – she’ll do anything! So, Brian starts to assault her, telling her he was a perfect gentleman last night, but now he’s got this tingle all over and has she ever felt his tingle? Uh. What. Keep your tingle to yourself, buddy.
[bat: Oh great, so he’s mentally unstable, an actual murderer, and a wannabe rapist. Great. Just great, shitty movie.] [JC: It’s the trifecta of movie villainy!]
Paula starts unbuttoning her blouse while Brad Pitt tries to convince us his head is really stuck in the vice (also he can totally reach the crank from his position, so I have no idea why he doesn’t just let himself loose). [bat: PLOT SAYS SO!] Then Paula reiterates to Brian that she’ll do anything, but she wants him to close his eyes. Brian’s boner apparently turned him stupid, because he agrees.
Paula grabs a hammer and bashes it into Brian’s head, claw-first. Then she pushes him into a table-mounted circular saw. Welp. Okay.
Schultz rocks up out of nowhere and asks if this is survival class, apparently unconcerned with the dead student on the saw, and tells Paula that he won’t mind cleaning up after her. No, seriously, what is wrong with the men at this school?
Paula doesn’t know which way to turn the crank to let Dwight go, because I guess she’s never opened a jar or changed a lightbulb, or done literally anything that requires twisting a thing. (No, I’m not saying “screwing.” I am steadfastly avoiding that joke.) Dwight tells her “left!” and they make their way out of auto shop.
Cut to Dwight and Paula in a hallway, talking to a cop. They’re holding the photocopy Brian showed her that “proved” Dwight was the killer, and it’s explained that Dwight’s ring was in the copy because the machine was still copying when he ran in the room and grabbed Mrs. Knocht’s head, and generally destroyed the crime scene. [bat: I guess… that’s… a plausible… explanation.] The detective tells him to give Paula a ride home and then tells Paula to tell her dad hi when he gets back.
Speaking of Dad, here he is lurching over the rise of a hill! Much excite!
[bat: BULLSHIT!! How many days have passed by now?!] [JC: More than one, but less than a week? He said he’d be gone for a week, and no one is worried yet that he’s not home. LOGIC, MOTHERFUCKERS!]
Back to Paula and Dwight in his car in front of her house. She says she liked Brian, and so much for feminine intuition. I mean, so much for logic and common sense, as well. Then she says she wants to go fast, and Dwight smiles at the opportunity to drive like an asshole again. Paula tells him that Brian talked about killing beyond space and time; killing in the future, then says he was crazy.
Then Dad jumps out into the road, and Dwight realizes his brakes have been cut! Oh noes! He manages to spin around and skid to a stop by desperately jerking on the gear shift and cranking the steering wheel. I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to do in that situation, but somehow it works for them.
Dad stumbles over to the car and announces that he’s going to kill that goddamn Brian Woods, and instead of electroshock he should have gotten the electric chair. Taking the opportunity to remind everyone that he was twelve. Pretty sure you can’t give a twelve-year-old the chair. Anyway, Paula and Dwight inform him that Brian is dead, much to Dad’s disappointment. Or relief. I dunno, I get the impression he wanted to strangle Brian with his own two hands.
Then suddenly Dad realizes it’s the middle of the day and Paula ought to be in school. She’s not CUTTING CLASS, is she?! Freeze frame on Paula’s incredulous smile, and “Man Talk” plays us out.
[bat: Sweet, sweet freedom! I’m never getting that 91 minutes back!]
Nostalgia Glasses Off
You know, the first time I watched this, I thought it was just meh-bad. Not unwatchably bad, but not entertaining enough to qualify as good-bad. Upon rewatching it for this recap, I’ve found myself enjoying it a lot more than the first time around. I’m not sure why the internet consensus seems to be “unwatchable.” This movie is fucking ridiculous, and under the right circumstances, I’ve had a lot of fun with it. Don’t let the bitching and snarking fool you; that’s just what we do around here.
Thinking about it now, I wonder if this movie thought it was sending up all those 1980s predatory male tropes. Hey, maybe this was actually biting satire! I mean, I seriously doubt it. Someone probably just still thought looking up girls’ skirts was the height of hilarity. The fuckin’ eighties, man.
Apparently lead actress Jill Schoelen (who also played the teen daughter in The Stepfather and was considered a bit of a scream queen for a while there) didn’t want to do this movie, but signed on eventually because she wanted to work with Martin Mull and Roddy McDowall. I mean, fair enough. She reportedly had some issues with the way the director demanded certain lines be read. There are indeed many spots where her line readings seem odd and unnatural, so I’m gonna go ahead and assume that’s the director’s fault. I’m going to blame the weird over-enunciation of the letter T in certain places on him, too. Just because.
And now that I’ve rambled on for a bit, I suspect bat may have hated this movie more than I did?
[bat: Well… detest would be a better adjective, if you want my opinion. I went into this totally blind, on the basis of “young Brad Pitt in a murder/horror movie how bad could it be?” in order to (try and) be objective No idea what the fuck I was about to watch. I agree that it isn’t “unwatchable” – I just fucking watched it – but I am not as remotely forgiving as you are, JC. This was just… crap. Like, not even funny, not even “ha ha this is bad it makes me laugh!” It’s a goddamn waste of film and time (HOW DOES TIME WORK?!) and I don’t know if I can say it’s a waste of talent because, well, the only one who I’d consider talented was Roddy McDowall and the fact he signed on for this makes me question a lot of things. They wasted Martin Mull but I’m not that upset about it.
It was filmed over a short four weeks, though now I see there’s conflicting info whether it was filmed in 1987 or 1988. The director wanted Brad Pitt so badly he found “four young women” to tell producer Rudy Cohen Pitt was “hot” so he could hire him. YEAH BECAUSE HOT = TALENT. The fact this sat on a shelf unreleased before going direct-to-video SPEAKS UNTOLD VOLUMES about the complete lack of confidence the studio and producers had in this film.
Pitt did four films in 1987 and all four of those he was uncredited in. That’s… well, it’s Hollywood. He did a film in 1988 that wasn’t released until 1997, another direct-to-video. Ugh. He was not pulling anything until Thelma & Louise and even then, this man did Cool World before he hit it big with Interview with the Vampire. (Okay, I loved him in True Romance but it was a bit part.)
I was seriously trying to make a connection between Pitt hitting the big time and this movie being released to capitalize on that success but there isn’t one. Neither of the other two leads really went on to great success. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows their names these days. Basically it’s just a junk movie that fell into obscurity and only gets attention when someone happens upon it.
I wouldn’t go running to show this to someone. I think partly the enjoyment of it might be based on what you grew up watching and your ability to laugh at almost anything. Maybe if it had an ounce of believe-ability and hadn’t completely insulted the teaching profession, I’d be more inclined to chuckle once or twice.
Honestly, I no longer feel bad about making you watch My Demon Lover, JC. At least that had a story that (partly) made sense!]
[JC: Fair, fair. I am very forgiving of garbage, especially if someone I like is involved in it. Also I experience this weird sort of Stockholm Syndrome thing with the bad movies I recap – even if I start out hating it during the prewatch, by the time I’ve spent hours and hours recapping it, I start thinking it wasn’t really all that bad! Maybe my brain is just hardcore throwing some sunk-cost fallacy at me to . . . protect . . . me? *shrug*]
[bat: Maybe your brain feeds on this stuff to keep you going? We take joy in whatever we can at this point. Shitty horror “comedies” might be what you need!]