In a growing library of horror spoofs, this 1981 gem stands tall.
We need to have a talk. Yes, I'm talking to you. I want to discuss the 1981 horror spoof movie STUDENT BODIES for a moment. Yeah, I know -- the concept seems overplayed now, with the mid-2000s being a haven for spoof movies, but back in '81, it was still a fresh concept, with the only popular spoof movies of the time being the likes of THE NAKED GUN and AIRPLANE.
And now, in 2015, to the best of my knowledge, 2000's SCARY MOVIE is hailed at the gold star of the horror spoof genre. But I'm here to question that. Not that I didn't like SCARY MOVIE, because I loved it. But examining the sub-genre, I feel as if STUDENT BODIES just doesn't get enough credit.
STUDENT BODIES really only had three movies to pull material from -- PSYCHO, HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH (lesser known slashers of the time like THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and BLACK CHRISTMAS were ignored). Whereas SCARY MOVIE had basically the entire history of slasher movies to pull from and only really chose SCREAM, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and the ending to THE USUAL SUSPECTS (which wasn't even a horror film).
Abbot & Costello covered the Universal monster spoofs, so I'll leave that be.
But, for the record, SCARY MOVIE is the my third favorite horror spoof, behind STUDENT BODIES and SHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH (I'll explain in a later post).
The film opens in the same vein as HALLOWEEN, a POV shot of a house...then the title card (seen above), and then what follows is, well, have a look...
We get a "Halloween" caption, letting us know the date. But it's then soon followed by...
...a "Friday the 13th" caption. Okay, I see what they did there. They're telling us it's Halloween and Friday the 13th...on the same day! Ha, hilarious.
But what! There's more!
Holy shit! It's also Jamie Lee Curtis' birthday! What are the odds?!
From there, the POV tracking continues through the eyes of the killer, known as the Heavy Breather (a nod to Michael Myers).
If you haven't seen the movie, you can get an idea from the trailer.
Hell, there's even evidence of SCARY MOVIE actually ripping STUDENT BODIES off. You know the scene in SM where Carmen Electra's character, Drew Decker, has a multitude of weapons in front of her to choose from and she chooses the banana? Well, SB did it in '81. Albeit, it was the killer making the decision then.
Many deadly weapons available, but the killer chooses...
...the paperclips. Funny as hell in the early '80s, I'm sure. I know for a fact it was funny in 2000.
But enough SM bashing, because do genuinely love that movie.
But what I don't think SB intended to do, but actually did, was set up a mystery whodunit formula for teen slashers for years to come. HALLOWEEN wasn't a mystery, we knew who it was. In FRIDAY THE 13TH, yeah, it was a mystery, but we suspected Steve Christie all the way up until the Mrs. Voorhees reveal (similarly in PSYCHO).
But STUDENT BODIES set a precedent that movies like SCREAM, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, URBAN LEGEND, VALENTINE, MY BLOODY VALENTINE and countless others would follow.
STUDENT BODIES is very much the horror counter-part to AIRPLANE, which is a helluva compliment, really. SB is full of characters who are both unforgettable and charming in their own quirky ways. And the lead, Kristen Riter, is a doll.
The rest of the movie plays out like a typical '90s teen slasher, full of mystery and even a little suspense (with the added commentary of the Heavy Breather). Numerous characters are set up as suspects and when the killer is finally revealed, it's both completely unbelievable and hilarious, which is exactly what counts in a horror spoof. Although, I really dug SM's USUAL SUSPECTS ending. Both are equally as good.
But, in closing, STUDENT BODIES remains brilliant because it did it before everyone else. And that counts for a lot. It really does.
In fact, SB could've dropped the comedic spoof aspect and probably stood ground as a solid slasher.
If you've seen SB, then hell yeah! High five! If not, we can't be friends until you do. Whether you'll like it or not, it must be seen.
What do you think of STUDENT BODIES?