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Ghoul School - star pupil?

Ghoul School's out!

April 2007 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Ghoul School
cast: William Friedman, Scott Gordon, Ed Burrows, Ivan Sergei, and Nancy Sirianni

director: Timothy O'Rawe

70 minutes (n/r) 1990
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Camp Motion Pictures DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Ian R. Faulkner
I have fond memories of the 1980s' horror boom, as a time when the video nasty was born and my fledgling sensibilities were first corrupted by blood, gore and splatter. As any horror aficionado will state, the 1980s produced some absolute must see classics - Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), Re-Animator, and the incomparable Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988), to name but a few.

Unfortunately, this glorious decade of extreme horror also produced the steaming pile of dross known as Ghoul School, now released on DVD as a 'Super Bloody Splatter University Edition'.

The plot (or lack of) deals with two wannabe criminals who inadvertently release a mysterious and completely unexplained something into a school's water supply, whilst attempting to find the janitor's hidden millions - don't ask, I didn't understand this either. From then on, anyone who comes in contact with this now toxic water rapidly becomes a flesh-eating, blue skinned, pointy-toothed ghoul.

The first to suffer the adverse effect of the tainted water are the school's swim team and they waste no time in chowing down on their fellow students and the hapless teaching staff, starting with their coach, who, when faced with a sudden horde of rampaging ghouls, can only state that there must be a little too much chlorine in the pool.

Soon the whole school has been invaded and we are left in the hands of our two feckless protagonists, Jeff and Steve (played by Scott Gordon and William Friedman), the coach (Ed Burrows) of the worst basketball team in history and one totally-devoid-of-talent heavy metal band (complete with groupies) known as the Blood Sucking Ghouls.

Originally released direct to video in 1990, and not as the box or my reminiscence would have you believe in the 1980s, Ghoul School is certainly nowhere near a classic. Not even in all its revamped and repackaged glory, which is interesting in the fact that neither of the cover stars (and I use that term loosely) actually appear in the film, could it ever be called a classic.

The acting is wooden and lifeless; the dialogue is clichéd and relies way too much on the F-word to fill in for the writer-director's lack of imagination or ear for real dialogue. Its exposition, what little there is, is drawn out and ultimately wasted film, tempting liberal use of the fast-forward button; the special effects are poor and consist of nothing more than blue, red and green paint, two false rubber heads and a pile of grey garden hoses; and worst of all is the inclusion of Jackie 'The Joke Man' Martling and an obviously embarrassed (and rightly so) Joe Franklin. I mean, who are these guys? Why are they even in the movie? The only assumption I can make is perhaps they put up some cash, as I can't see any other reason for them being in it.

Okay, enough with the bad. What about the good? Well, Ghoul School does have a comedic value given the fact it is so bad and a couple of the scenes did make me chuckle, but even its humour is short lived. It isn't an Evil Dead or a Re-Animator. The laughs don't last and I have a horrible feeling Mr O'Rawe and company would disagree the film is even supposed to be a comedy.

The extras on offer do have some merit (not a lot, but some), as it includes, amidst its three commentaries, a DVD cover-photo shoot, trailers for other (undoubtedly execrable) Camp Motion Pictures releases, an obligatory 'making of' featurette, the original fundraising promo - which shows a film with much better special effects than this feature and has more than a passing resemblance to the Evil Dead and/or Romero's zombie flicks. Also included is the Splatter University Vault of student films.

Final verdict: avoid unless drunk.

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