Hell High

High school biology teacher Brooke Storm has possibly the worst class of seniors imaginable, not one of them interested in learning or listening to her, the clique of losers and jokers led by surly and confrontational Dickens who has no concept of the future or any life after school, existing entirely in the moment and determined to cause as much misery and disruption as possible.

Forcing his friends Jon-Jon, Queenie and Smiler to join him at the spooky swamps just out of town, supposedly the site of the tragic death of two teens eighteen years before, his aim is to gather mud and pelt Miss Storm’s house, Dickens’ revenge for the bad grades he fully deserves, the start of a night of terror which rapidly spins out of control.

The young girl with blonde pigtails dressed in her pink party dress with oversized white bow accidentally causing the violent death by impalement of a biker and his girlfriend in the opening scene, a tableau of big hair and copious blood so outrageous it could come from a John Waters film, had the rest of director Douglas Grossman’s Hell High been similarly ridiculous and overplayed it would have been far more entertaining than what it ultimately became.

Originally disappointing audiences in 1989 and now released on Blu-ray by Arrow from a 2K restoration from the original camera negative approved by cinematographer Steven Fierberg, Hell High, also known as Raging Fury and Real Trouble, is less the standard three-act structure than a prologue, two acts and brief epilogue, ending unsatisfactorily just as it starts to get going, the apparent twist that unstable teacher Brooke was also accidentally homicidal child Brooke from all those years before somewhat telegraphed.

Starring Space Force‘s Maureen Mooney as the adult Brooke and The Exorcist‘s Christopher Cousins as Jon-Jon, both are interviewed on Arrow’s new release, as are Grossman and Fierberg who also provide a new commentary in addition to an archive commentary from Grossman and another from overenthusiastic fan Joe Bob Briggs who also has an optional introduction which should be avoided as it gives away the entire plot, such as it is.

Weighed down by a terrible soundtrack of cliched rawk non-hits and less interested in characters or a clever hook than breasts in extreme close up, filling the entire screen so the presumed audience of teenage boys can be assured that yes, this is indeed female anatomy, Cousins and Millie Prezioso (Queenie) give the best performances, the rest of the cast gurning as though listening for the sitcom laugh track, though with even his friends hating him Christopher Stryker’s Dickens is convincingly unpleasant without the question ever being considered of why he is a misogynist nihilist.

Hell High will be available on Blu-ray from Arrow films from Monday 18th July



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