Director Rospo Pallenberg’s “Cutting Class” is a slasher film I’ve grown to enjoy over the years, and maybe that’s because there’s rarely a slasher that doesn’t win my heart. I first caught it during a late night screening on cable, and since then it’s grown on me immensely. It’s a late eighties last gasp at the slasher sub-genre that relies on the comedic styling of Martin Mull who attempts to survive an arrow attack in a conspicuously detached sub-plot from the central premise of a slasher stalking a high school.
Writer Steve Slavkin has a ball with the absurdity working the title “Cutting Class” into the dialogue in the first five minutes. A character even screams dialogue like “I Am the Custodian of Your fucking destiny!” Paula has it all, she’s brainy, over-achieving, her dad is an attorney, and her boyfriend is the local hunk of the school that can’t score a good grade to save his life. After her dad goes off to duck hunt, she’s left for the week at home alone, and her once best friend Brian has just been released from an institution. Soon, the body count in her local high school begins to rise with the faculty turning up dead, and Paula is not sure who to trust. Should she ally herself with the cock eyed uneasy Brian, or the brooding domineering Dwight?
Director Rospo Pallenberg’s creaky slasher film is one that you’ll either love or hate. While many will opt for the latter, it is good campy fun with some of the dumbest scenes you can grab from a slasher of this decade. If you thought you saw it all, Pallenberg’s horror comedy seems anxious to top the best of the eighties. “Cutting Class” plays more like an episode of “Degrassi” with all tension, atmosphere, and urgency nowhere to be found, which would account for it often feeling very unlike a typical entry of the sub-genre. Writer Steve Slavkin tries to unfold a mystery that assumes it’s actually fooling us into a web of deceit and suspense.
Sadly, the poorly edited murders set with the obvious give away at the opening, really doesn’t leave us scratching our heads too often. We know who the killer is because the direction makes it painfully obvious. I was never stumped, and neither will the audience be. Director Pallenberg’s implements the setting of the school creatively, though, which is a big plus. How many slashers will actually stand by two doors and force you to solve a math problem on a chalk board to choose a door to escape through? Jason ain’t too good with the arithmetic. As made apparent over the years, “Cutting Class” is one of the nails in the coffin of the eighties slasher fad, but it remains that fun and funny guilty pleasure.