Back to Skull Viewing: A School Ghoul’s Guide to Campus Classics

 Let the parents rejoice as that time has come again- it’s back to school! With classes resuming this week, it seemed a perfect opportunity to peruse some of the more memorable, campy campus classics. So, bust out your pompoms, recall your locker combination and sharpen those pencils… it’s time for some Back to Skull viewing!

Prom Night 2: Hello Mary-Lou
Forget about the first Prom Night film… And say a friendly howdy-do to murderous man-eater Mary Lou Maloney. Tragically killed mere seconds before receiving her prestigious Prom Queen title, Mary Lou returns from the dead to wreak havoc and murderous mayhem on the unsuspecting students at Hamilton High School.

Report Card
A+ for thematic and creative murders- including a deadly prop cupboard and killer computers! Slay in school, kiddies!

Overall Grade: B-
Comments: A fun and campy sequel, offers gore and giggles galore- just don’t expect much more…

Black Christmas (1974)
Perhaps the first and most effective “killer in a sorority” horror film, Black Christmas depicts elusive serial murderer “Billy” as he stalks and torments several, attractive female students over Christmas break. Filmed in Toronto, this atmospheric classic is no less disturbing now than when it was first released. An unfortunate and unnecessary remake surfaced in 2006.

Report Card
A+ for chills, thrills and chills. Not only is the call coming from inside the house, but Billy knows where you sleep, who you sleep with and whether or not you’ve had a wart removed. *shudder*

Overall Grade: A+
Comments: In my humble opinion, one of the best horror films ever made. Bonus marks for Margot Kidder as a slutty, foul-mouthed, drunken sorority girl. Her phallic demise is as bizarre as it is unforgettable.

Scream 2 (1997)
While most of the Scream franchise involves students of some description, Scream 2 finds tormented survivor Sydney Prescott attending college complete stereotypical stock characters such as promiscuous sorority girls, hard-partying frat-boys, misunderstood outcasts and oblivious (though suitably pretentious) professors.

Report Card
A+ for depicting college life as fun, dangerous and devoid of any actual course-work!

Overall Grade: B
Comments: A decent, if not entirely original, sequel with plenty of fake-outs and twists. Loss of potential bonus marks for killing off cinephile, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy).

Carrie (1976)
Poor, poor Carrie. She’s just a normal high school girl, with a psychotic, religious-nut mother and secret telekinetic powers. After being humiliated one too many times, Carrie does what any girl would do and seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. Or looked at her. Or had class with her. The morale of the story is- pig’s blood and pink prom dresses totally clash.

Report Card
A+ for effective use of the “geek gets revenge” plot line with plenty of pathos for poor, little, mistreated Carrie.

Overall Grade: A
Comments: Fantastic film that still holds its ground many years later. The synchronization of Carrie’s menarche and the onset of her telekinetic powers offer an interesting critique of puberty and monstrosity (further and beautifully developed in the female werewolf film Ginger Snaps).


The Faculty (1998)
This silly, sci-fi romp from 1998 depicts what would happen if alien invaders took over a high school and it was up to an unlikely band of high school stereotypes to defeat the extraterrestrial evil. Combining a mean cheerleader, a brainless jock, a local drug-dealer, a chem-class nerd, an outcast goth chick and the new girl in town, the films pits the students against the faculty in an all out war to end thought control! Hey, teachers! Leave them kids alone!

Report Card
A+ for an ambitious update on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers premise.

Overall Grade: C+
Comments: Great effort, poor execution. Also taught a whole new generation of kids that, with the right ingredients and lenient enough parents, you can manufacture drugs in your own garage!

Halloween H20 (1998)
Even Michael Myers can’t escape the allure of back-to-school. It’s Halloween again and twenty years after Michael’s murderous rampage, Laurie Strode’s biggest worry is protecting her son from a potentially fatal class ski trip. Of course, she has no idea that her brother is planning a sick and twisted homecoming. Suddenly, Laurie’s picturesque prep school is transformed into a murderous maze where no student is safe… Well, except the ones who went on the ski trip.

Report Card
A+ for creative killings like the ice-skate to the face and the dumbwaiter/corpse carrier. Bonus points for the utilization of Plan Nine from Outer Space during the introductory murders.

Overall Grade:
Comments: Interesting addition to the Halloween franchise, more funny than frightening with some very memorable murders.


Suspiria (1977)
Suzy is a new student at a private ballet academy in Germany. Dealing with a new city and severe language barrier, Suzy feels isolated, lonely and fretful at her school. Between the maggot ceilings, student disappearances and flagrant dishonesty from the staff, Suzy begins to suspect there is something unusual about the school. As the strange incidents increase in frequency, Suzy’s uneasiness grows until she is sure something supernatural is afoot!

Report Card
A+ for atmosphere! The creepy, cavernous halls of the school. The discordant soundtrack by Goblin. The bloody grand opening. On the surface, this film may appear tame but it manages to burrow under your skin and grip on for dear life!

Overall Grade: A+
Comments: A cult classic, Suspiria delivers time and again. As if being a ballerina wasn’t already hard enough…


Idle Hands (1999)

Anton is a lazy pot-smoker who dreams of scoring with the badass, motorcycle-riding girl next door. Unfortunately, the devil has possessed his hand, which renders lovemaking difficult, but not impossible. Inspired by advice from his undead, stoner friends, Anton decides to cut off his disobedient devil-hand. Regrettably, this only further enrages the severed limb so Anton must go to the school he has actively avoided for so long to stop the evil before it claims his would-be girlfriend.

Report Card
A+ for getting The Offspring to play at your school’s Halloween dance.

Overall Grade: B+
Comments: This dark comedy is as bloody as other entries in the horror genre, but provides a much-appreciated lighter take on death and dismemberment. Anton’s evil hand is severed, stabbed, sharpened, microwaved and even given the chance to feel up a random hussy’s bare chest. Think “Thing” from The Addams Family gone psychotic. You got to hand it to them- this is one fun, funny flick.


Starving Piranha said…
I would add "Dance of the Dead" to the list. I mean, what better for a zombie buffet than prom?