Massacre at Central High

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Massacre at Central High
Massacre at Central High FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Rene Daalder
Produced by Jerome Bauman
Harold Sobel
Written by Rene Daalder
Starring Derrel Maury
Andrew Stevens
Robert Carradine
Kimberly Beck
Ray Underwood
Steve Bond
Music by Tommy Leonetti
Cinematography Bert Van Munster
Edited by Harry Keramidas
Distributed by Brian Distributing Corporation (Theatrical)
MPI Home Video (VHS)
Release date(s)
  • September 17, 1976 (1976-09-17)
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $500,000

Massacre at Central High is a 1976 horror-thriller film directed by Dutch director Rene Daalder, a protégé of Russ Meyer. Despite its title, it is not at all a slasher film; the film is more an odd and violent political allegory, which tells the story of a series of revenge killings at a fictional high school. The cast was largely made up of unknowns, but included well-known actors Robert Carradine, Lani O'Grady, Kimberly Beck, and Andrew Stevens.

In the UK the film was released theatrically as Blackboard Massacre. It was shot on 35mm film, and had a running time of 87 minutes.

The film has been described as "predicting punk and Columbine" [1], and as "the epitome of the '70s meathead ethic fused with an apt social commentary" [2]. The much-better-known 1988 film Heathers borrowed several plot elements from Massacre at Central High.

Plot synopsis[edit]

David (Derrel Maury) is a new student to Central High, a southern California high school with seemingly no adults, no rules, and no supervision and lots of microphones. He realizes that everyone is under a strict eye from a small group of bullies bent on making things run their way, and their way only. David meets Mark (Andrew Stevens), an old friend who he once helped out of a jam at their previous school in Los Angeles. Mark tells David that the school can be like a country club for him if he becomes friends with Bruce (Ray Underwood), Craig (Steve Bond), and Paul (Damon Douglas), the bullies who rule the school student body and who are from wealthy and powerful families.

During his first day at Central High, David sees the three bullies order Spoony (Robert Carradine), a semi-skinhead and radical, to wash off a swastika he painted on his locker. The bullies inform Spoony that no forms of intolerance are permitted at Central High. At gym class after school, David further sees Bruce, Craig, and Paul bully the slow-witted Oscar (Jeffrey Winner), a shy, fat teenager. David wants to step to Oscar's defense, but Mark holds David back and tells him not to get involved. The following day, David goes out jogging which he does every morning before school for exericise, and he considers it the one outlet for his emotions. At school, David sees Bruce, Craig, and Paul bully the socially awkward student librarian Arthur (Dennis Kort), who needs a hearing-aid to hear. David helps Arthur up after the bullies leave and offers his help to take them on. But Arthur too tells David to stay out of it for he says, "we fight and lose our own battles".

Another day later, David also witnesses the bullies wreck a car owned by a jock, Rodney (Rex Steven Sikes), after he parks in their place in the school parking lot. David offers to help Rodney fix his car. Rodney agrees, but again tells David to stay out of Bruce, Craig, and Paul's path for he doesn't want them to be his enemies. After school, Mark meets with Bruce, Craig, and Paul in Paul's van where he tells them about David and that he would make a great friend to them. But the three bullies tell Mark that they do not want anything to do with David; they tell Mark that David looks like a troublemaker. They also sternly warn Mark to tell David to stay out of their path. Mark begins to worry about his friend, but he tells the bullies that he will straighten David out.

Aside from Mark, David's only other friend at the school is Theresa (Kimberly Beck), who happens to be Mark's girlfriend. After Theresa and Mark quarrel over David hanging around her, she walks away from him wanting some space. After classes are let out for the day, the bullies spot Spoony's two girlfriends, Mary and Jane, and decide to rape them just for kicks. When Theresa catches them trying to assault the two girls, they spot her and throw her into a vacant classroom. David sees this and charges into the classroom. He single handedly beats up all three bullies before the rapes are accomplished. While Theresa is grateful to David for saving her, Mary and Jane do not thank him and tell David that he is now a marked man having crossed Craig, Bruce, and Paul. Humiliated by this latest encounter with David over being beaten up by just one person, the bullies approach Mark and tell him that he only has one more chance to talk to David to mind his own business. At nightfall, they drive down the Pacific Coast Highway where they find David's car. Venturing down to the beach to find David, Mark sees him with Theresa skinny dipping in the ocean. Filled with anger and jealousy, Mark goes back to the bullies in Paul's van and lies to them by saying that he tried to talk to David, but he wouldn't listen. The three bullies decide to take matters into their own hands.

One evening, David is repairing Rodney's car when the bullies appear and kick the jack out and it lands on top of David, in which one of the wheels crushes his left leg. After several weeks in the hospital, David returns to school, now limping from a leg cast under trousers. But worse for David, he can no longer jog. Most of the students avoid and snub David for attempting to make a stand against the bullies. Even Mark is nasty towards David for his flirtation with Theresa. When Mark confronts Theresa later and tells her that he saw her and David that night on the beach, she tells him about how David saved her from being raped earlier that day. She also tells Mark that although she really wanted to have sex with David that night on the beach, he refused to make love to her out of loyalty to Mark. Mark feels guilty over it realizing that he inadvertently got back at David for nothing. Crippled as a result of rebelling against the system, David vows to exact revenge on his tormentors. He secretly plots to kill the three bullies in the same manner he believes they tried to kill him: by making it look like an accident. David begins his lethal plan of revenge when he breaks a cable on one hang glider to one of the bullies: Bruce. During the Saturday hang gliding excursion, Bruce loses control of his hang glider when the cord for the steering breaks, and it rams into power lines, electrocuting him.

Craig is the next victim when David intercepts a letter from the janitor to Craig about the school swimming pool being cleaned. That evening, Craig, a championship swimmer who wants to swim in the next Olympics, arrives at the school for his private practice sessions when David turns out the lights to the pool area. He tricks Craig into diving into the empty swimming pool. Paul is the final victim when David attacks him the following day in his van and rolls it down a cliff where it hits the rocks and explodes, killing Paul instantly. Mark arrives on the scene and discovers that David is responsible for Paul's death as well as Craig's and Bruce's. David challenges Mark to stop him, but Mark loves David too much to fight him. David, however, despite knowing that Mark knows the truth, agrees to let him live out of his love for Theresa. For a time, everyone at the school is grateful to David and is on friendly terms now that the three bullies are gone from their lives. But soon, they all try to enlist the help of their hero and savior, David, so they can obtain power as more tables are turned. From Arthur taking charge of the geeks, Oscar with the fat guys, to Rodney with the jocks, and Spoony with the punks, they take on one another for power. Soon, everything at Central High is out of control as fights and arguments break out all over the school as everyone quarrels with one another over territory rights. David, disgusted at the fighting and seeing that the once-oppressed have become the new oppressors, plots to get rid of all the students.

A few days later, David commences the "massacre at central high". Arthur is killed when David switches his hearing aid with another one that produces high decibel sonic pulses, which blow Arthur's eardrums out. Minutes later, Oscar is the next victim when he opens his locker and a pipe bomb that David had placed earlier, explodes, killing him. The students ran outside panicking. Rodney attempts to flee from the chaos in the parking lot by getting into his car and upon starting it, it explodes, killing him. Only Spoony manages to escape and hides out in the wilderness with his two girlfriends, Mary and Jane. But David follows them and kills them as well by blowing up a face of a cliff and crushing the three of them in their tent under an avalanche of rocks.

Mark, aware that David is behind all the carnage, tells Theresa that they must try to stop David before he kills more people for he has clearly been driven to the edge by everything that has happened. Mark gets a gun and with Theresa they go after David. They arrive at David's house and confront him in his workshop where he is constructing more pipe bombs. David challenges Mark to shoot him and put an end to his killing spree, but Mark can't do it. David then subdues Mark and locks him and Theresa in his workshop and goes to the school where a student-alumni dance is taking place. David hides a large bomb in the basement of the school and plots to blow up the dance with all the remaining students and teachers inside the gym.

Mark and Theresa manage to break out of David's workshop room and head over to the school. Realizing that the only way to stop David is by playing on his last sympathies he has towards them, they enter the gym where the party is being held and begin to dance. David sees them and tries to get them to leave the building before the bomb goes off. The refuse and dance, saying that if David really wants to kill everyone in the school, he will have to kill them too. Realizing that they will not leave and that both Mark and Theresa are sorrowfully willing to sacrifice their lives for him, David rushes (not very fast because of his limp) to the basement and retrieves the bomb. Since David apparently trigger-timed the bomb to go off should anyone, including him, try to defuse it, he takes it outside where it explodes killing him. Mark and Theresa agree to tell the police that the missing Spoony was the one who planted the bomb and that David had given his life to save everyone.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

  • Writer-director Rene Daalder was recommended to the producers by Russ Meyer, for whom Daalder had previously worked for as a cameraman.
  • This was the first feature starring role for both Andrew Stevens and Kimberly Beck.
  • According to an interview with Derrel Maury, a haunting original theme called "David's Theme" was initially composed by musician-director Daalder, but never used in the final film.[1]
  • The film was shot in a mere 4 weeks.
  • Derrel Maury was originally cast as Rodney.[1] After Rex Steven Sikes was recast in the part, he was given the lead.
  • During the filming of Oscar's death scene, a much larger explosion than intended occurred, knocking out stuntman Danny Rogers and blowing out the lights. It was this take which was used in the final film.
  • Reportedly, director Rene Daalder was so upset with the film's musical score that he did not watch his own film in its entirety for three decades after its release.
  • During the end scene when David (Maury) is carrying the bomb out of Central High, the actor lost his balance by limping on one leg, accidentally crashing into the school lockers in the hallway.[1]
  • Robert Carradine had difficulty with the line where he refers to Rodney's car as a 'Detroit gas guzzler'. Carradine fumbled the lines so many times that the shot had to be taken more than 20 times.
  • Andrew Stevens accidentally broke Rex Steven Sikes' nose when he elbowed him in the face during the shooting of the scene where the students find Craig's body in the pool. Sikes ended up having to complete the rest of the film with the injury to his nose visible.
  • In an interview with star Rex Steven Sikes, he said that the cast often found their scripted dialog so cheesy that they would improvise lines. Sikes though, at the insistence of director Rene Daalder, stuck to his scripted lines.

Release[edit]

The Italian version of this film, called Sexy Jeans, was edited with pornographic inserts.

Reception[edit]

On review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a 67% 'Fresh' rating.[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]