Night School (film)
|Directed by||Ken Hughes|
|Produced by||Ruth Avergon,
|Written by||Ruth Avergon|
|Music by||Brad Fiedel|
|Edited by||Robert Reitano|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|April 24, 1981|
Night School is a slasher film released in 1981 directed by Ken Hughes and starring English actress Rachel Ward in her feature film debut. The plot revolves around a series of gruesome decapitation murders happening among college coeds in Boston, Massachusetts. The film was originally to be directed by Alfred Sole but Sole passed on the project. Ken Hughes was ultimately brought in to direct, this would be his final film. The music score was composed by Brad Fiedel and is among the best of the composer's early work. Though the film is less graphic in its violence than many films of the slasher genre, Night School was still denounced by critics upon release. In England it was known as Terror Eyes and was a Video Nasty. The film has developed a small cult following among slasher fans, and in 2011, it was given its first DVD release by Warner Archive with a remastered transfer.
Anne Barron (Meb Boden) is a teacher's aide at the Jack-N-Jill Daycare Center in Boston. It's the early evening and the last child has been picked up by her mother. Anne is relaxing on the playground carousel when someone pulls up on a motorcycle, wearing a black motorcycle helmet. She is startled as the stranger pulls out a kukri and starts spinning the carousel. The kukri is held up in the air and the terrified woman goes around and around - until she's struck with it.
Judd Austin (Leonard Mann) is the cop assigned to the case. He is called to the scene and when he gets there, he sees a gruesome sight. The girl was decapitated and her head was put in a bucket of water nearby. The distraught director of the center tells the officer that Anne worked there during the day - and was attending night classes at Wendell College.
At the hospital, Judd and his partner Taj (Joseph R. Sicari) discuss a similar case from the previous week. Another girl was found decapitated and her head was dumped in a pond. They wonder if there's any connection between the two murders.
At Wendell, the administrator Miss Helene Griffin (Annette Miller) tells Judd that Anne was close to a girl named Kim Morrison (Elizabeth Barnitz). When asked if Anne had a boyfriend, Kim tells the officer that the murdered girl was indeed involved with someone but she doesn't know who it was. She assumes the man must have been married as he was depressed. Judd enters Professor Millett's anthropology class to speak with him about his murdered student in French. The professor doesn't offer much information but he introduces Judd to an exchange student named Eleanor Adjai (Rachel Ward).
Eleanor leaves the school and goes to the local diner operated by Gus (Nicholas Cairis) who yells at Gary with his Greek accent to take out the garbage, but Gary is fixated on Eleanor. There, she is creeped out by Gary (Bill McCann), the busboy who appears to have mental issues. Carol (Karen MacDonald), the waitress asks Eleanor if she's in Millet's class and implies that he sleeps around, irritating Eleanor and she leaves. Gary follows her home. When she realizes this, she runs the rest of the way and quickly locks the door. She gets into the shower but someone is trying to break in.
Frightened, she gets out of the shower, only to find that it's her boyfriend who had been locked out by accident. That boyfriend is Professor Millett.
Anne's friend Kim is working at the local aquarium. About to leave work, she takes off her diving suit and is attacked and savagely killed with the Kukri. A woman looking at the sea turtles screams when she sees Kim's head fall to the bottom of the tank.
Judd pays a visit to Professor Millett and is surprised to see Eleanor, but she explains that she is the professor's research assistant. The officer then informs Millett that a second student of his has been killed - and asks him if he has had any affairs with his pupils. Millett is annoyed at this line of questioning and tells Judd to leave. Eleanor and Millett get into an argument and she goes to the diner to be alone. The professor follows her and she tells him that she is three months pregnant. He's sympathetic although he still manages to flirt with Carol as she waits on them.
After the diner has closed, Carol is left to clean up. When the power goes out, she heads to the basement to investigate. The killer is after her and she is attacked with the Kukri. Carol manages to get outside but she is caught in an alley and mutilated.
When one of the workers shows up the next day, he thinks someone has broken into the diner. A customer finds hair in his bowl of stew, Carol's head is discovered in a sink filled with water - and her body is found in a dumpster. Judd and Taj go to Gus's home since he is now considered a prime suspect. But Judd doesn't really believe the troubled man was involved.
When Judd goes to Professor Millett's home again, he is surprised to find a collection of skulls taken from tribal head hunters around the world. Eleanor doesn't see anything wrong with this however.
At Wendell, Miss Griffin tells Millett to stop sleeping around with his students and she counsels Kathy(Holly Hardman), who confesses that she too has been intimate with the professor. Miss Griffin, however, seems to have her own ideas about Kathy and she invites the girl to spend the night at her house and the two of them sleep together. The young student is not entirely comfortable but she is enjoying the company. Miss Griffin is killed when she gets up to answer the phone and Kathy is murdered shortly after she finds the older woman's head in the toilet.
Judd is on his way to speak to Miss Griffin when he sees the killer fleeing. He chases the psycho to Professor's Millett's apartment. When inside, The killer is revealed to be Eleanor. She confesses the killings to her lover and justifies the crimes by comparing them to tribal rituals he teaches in his courses. As the police are closing in, Millett puts on the helmet and flees on his motorcycle to deflect attention from his pregnant girlfriend. During a high speed chase with Judd and Taj, the professor is struck by a car and killed.
Eleanor attends his burial and the police believe the case has been solved. However, it is implied that Judd strongly suspects that Eleanor was the killer all along and that Millett died to protect her. But with the case closed, Judd lets Eleanor go without arresting her.
- Leonard Mann - Lt. Judd Austin
- Rachel Ward - Eleanor Adjai
- Drew Snyder - Vincent Millett
- Joseph R. Sicari - Taj
- Nicholas Cairis - Gus
- Karen MacDonald - Carol
- Annette Miller - Helene Griffin
- Bill McCann - Gary
- Margo Skinner - Stevie Cabot
- Elizabeth Barnitz - Kim Morrison
- Holly Hardman - Kathy
- Meb Boden - Anne Barron
- Leonard Corman - Priest
- Belle McDonald - Marjorie Armand
- Edward C. Higgins - Coroner (as Ed Higgins)
- Night School at the Internet Movie Database
- Night School at AllMovie
- Night School at Rotten Tomatoes