The underground lair at Russell Square’s Horse Hospital was packed for the CUT’s February film presentation, Bloody Homecoming. “Tonight’s movie takes us back to the 80s Slasher Movies” our host Billy Chainsaw explained before dimming the lights and hitting play.
He wasn’t wrong! Soon we were transported back to the familiar world of the American High School campus, with its cheerleaders, jocks and proms, a world that has become as synonymous with horror as the Gothic’s Carpathian castle or mad scientist’s laboratory. We begin three years before the main event as Billy Corbin (Jesse Ferraro) pays a bunch of jocks to bar his group of pals from the Homecoming Prom so that he can make a move on his girlfriend Annie (Grainne McDermott) at a private party in the High School Theatre. Only things don’t turn out as Billy hopes and when Annie spurns his affections he tries to rape her. In her bid to escape Billy gets locked in a dressing room, a candle gets knocked over and Billy is trapped in the ensuing conflagration.
Fast forward three years and the same bunch of kids are getting ready for the Homecoming Ball, but it’s not all innocent fun because someone in a fireman’s uniform and breathing apparatus is determined to take them down and they just happen to have a sharpened Homecoming Baton.
Yes, this is pretty much an old school slasher as the kids get taken down one by one. There’s lots of running down darkened corridors, hiding in car parks, gyms and science labs, heavy breathing and suppressed sobbing as the fireman tracks down his prey. There are also some pretty inventive slayings, it’s not all by the sharp pointy stick either, a balloon and the Homecoming Queen’s tiara also get a bit deadly.
Who is the Phantom Fireman? I’m not saying, but there are some decent red herrings distributed about the campus. Is it the peado principal, the creepy janitor (played by the English comedian Jim Tavare, obviously without his double bass or English accent) or the ghost of Billy Corbin?
When the final denouement arrives and the Fireman has the final survivor, tied to chair with the corpses of the killer’s other victims posed around her, I was put in mind of one of those murder mystery whodunits, where the detective unveils the motivation and identity of the killer, kind of like an inverted Midsummer Murder or a perverted Poirot.
Bloody Homecoming is quite a lot of fun. It has got the gore balance about right, just enough to keep the shocks coming without venturing into torture porn and there is some nice emotive cinematography in the stalking and chase sequences. The dialogue is a bit creaky at times which had me wondering whether the writer was trying to deliberately parody a genre which successfully parodies itself nine times out of ten. My only quibble is that slain students are never really given enough time over the movies short duration to become irritating or hateful enough to make you want to see all them murdered.
I give Bloody Homecoming a 444.
Bloody Homecoming is released on DVD in the UK on 10 March.
Screenings at the CUT! include one free drink plus entry into a free draw to win all kinds of strange promotional stuff. Entry is free, but strictly limited. To get on the guest list e-mail email@example.com.
Schools are a fertile breeding ground for the unexpected from Nuke ‘Em High to Hogwarts. My favourite is:
Rock ‘N’ Roll High School (1979) when Principal Togar of Vince Lombardi High organises a burning of her students’ Rock records she reckoned without the Ramones joining a student rebellion. Hey it might not be horror, but you do get to see Joey being force fed alfalfa, a mouse in a leather jacket and shades and some great tracks from da Brudders.
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.