Well, Student Bodies has been a real surprise. As much as T8MC is about going back and celebrating our favourite movies from the ’80s, we do love being surprised by a film we’ve never seen before.
Student Bodies has been on my ‘to watch’ list for a while now and it is a horror comedy that very much spoofs the horror genre and as such you’d be forgiven for not expecting much from it because when a film is 36 years old there’s a real danger that the horror and/or the comedy will have dated horribly.
Anyway, the film tells the story of Toby, a college student whose friends are being murdered by a killer known only as The Breather. His scenes are seen from a first-person perspective (overlaid with some ludicrously heavy breathing). As the body count starts rising, Toby starts to make the connection that people are only being killed after having sex. A horror cliche for sure but not the only one that the film pokes fun at.
The film starts strongly. In a scene that very much resembles Drew Barrymore’s shortlived turn in Scream, a babysitter answers the phone and slams it down when all she hears is The Breather doing his heavy breathing thing. When he phones back and says ‘I said…’ and starts the breathing again, I was caught out by it and started laughing.
Later on, the babysitter goes outside and returns back to house. The film flashes up a bold caption – ‘door unlocked!’ – and you know that this is going to be a fun ride. Similar pokes are had at the genre, most notably with the film giving you a running body count.
The jokes come thick and fast and at first it’s all very exciting to find a film that is this old that you’ve not seen and seems to be parodying the genre expertly. The film keeps the pace up but the jokes to tend to land less effectively as it goes along. Continual running gags (such as hearing The Breather every time a phone is picked up) are well done and are a credit to the writing but the film does occasionally lose its way.
Much like Scream, the film keeps you guessing as to who the killer really is and the answer in the end is kind of ridiculous. The film also ends in particularly strange fashion with you questioning what is and isn’t real. It’s a bit of a cop out but by then I was glad I’d watched Student Bodies but also glad it was ending.
While the humour might be a little silly, there’s something undeniably funny about seeing a couple split up and it being captioned with ‘BIG MISTAKE’ in flashing letters. All of those horror tropes that we’re used to are on show here and none of them are immune to Student Bodies’ slings and arrows.
Alas, the cast of Student Bodies didn’t really go on to great success. Hardly any of them have a headshot on IMDB and none of them went on to better what they did here. That includes Micky Rose, the writer director who decided to focus on his writing career and never directed again. But what they did here succeeded in all of this film’s gloriously silly aims and we’re glad we gave it a chance.