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Monday, June 22, 2020

Student Bodies (1981)




This horror comedy has maybe the best opening of any genre mashup that I’ve ever watched. The following text pops up on the screen. “This motion picture is based on an actual incident. Last year twenty-six horror films were released… None of them lost money.” Now that is how you get right to the point and let the audience know what they are about to watch. This seems like an excellent spot to start my plot synopsis.

Lamab High is having all their big events on the same day due to budget cuts. This means a parade, the big game, prom, and that sort of thing. Included are the funerals for the two students that we saw get murdered right after the opening credits. Because this is a parody of slasher flicks a couple a horn-dog teenagers get offed at that very same funeral. It is here we are introduced to our final girl, Toby, who is both virginal as well as somehow a suspect in the killings. The rest of the movie is a series of jokes being cracked while the killer does his work. I’m not glossing over anything here as that is how thin the plot is. Then again as long as the movie is funny that should be okay.

This is where I have an issue with Student Bodies. There are a lot of funny things in the movie. The running gag with the horse head bookend is decent. I was also amused with the actor playing Malvert the Janitor. His ability to do physical comedy is a nice addition to the movie. Other funny bits involve an obscene phone call and a phone that “finishes”, a farting corpse (have to work in a fart joke!), a meowing dog, and a blind guy named Charles Ray. Though for me the biggest laugh is the visual gag of Toby wearing a button that says No on her jacket that has a matching one on each garment that is more firmly saying stop. I did mention she was the virginal type. They put a lot of effort into throwing as much comedy at the audience as possible, which I appreciate.

Sadly, the movie can’t sustain the laughs and keeps going back to things that were previously funny again and again until they aren’t. The best example of this for me is when Toby has to go undercover and uses a couple of balloons to add to her “assets” and throw off those looking for her. There is a goofy sound of them rubbing on each other that wears thin. The ending is also an issue for me. Initially I was fairly happy with the reveal of the killer and the twist involved. But then they add on a Wizard of Oz like ending where it was all a dream… but was it? Because after that second ending there is another where there is a killer and it is a totally different person. And then after that there is another Carrie like ending at a funeral. I guess they thought this would be funny, but it really isn’t.

This is one of the running gags that is funny.
Since this is the slasher movie marathon, I suppose I should mention the kills. There are either thirteen, zero, or one kill depending on which ending you want to go with. Regardless which one you choose there isn’t any gore in this movie. All the kills are played for laughs and are off screen. In fact, most of the boys killed are just tied up in a garbage bag because that is supposed to be a thing the killer does. I had very low expectations for what we were going to get in this movie, but they managed to still disappoint.

I don’t hate Student Bodies. It has some really funny moments that had me laughing. That said I still want a somewhat cohesive story and characters that I can either relate to or at least root for. I get that this one is leaning heavily into the comedy, but it still needs substance, which it doesn’t have. If you want to kill some time, maybe giggle here and there, and then immediately forget what you just watched then this is the flick for you.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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