’13½ murders + 1423 laughs =’
Student Bodies is a 1981 American comedy horror feature film written and directed by Mickey Rose, with an uncredited Michael Ritchie co-directing.
A spoof of films such as Halloween, Friday 13th and Prom Night, Student Bodies was the first movie to satirise the thriving slasher film genre. A prominent feature of the film is a body count that is superimposed onscreen whenever a death occurs.
A killer named the Breather terrorises students at a high school. Whenever the killer finds students having sex, he kills them. The Breather has some severe personality issues. such as his compulsion to make prank calls while talking through a rubber chicken….
Student Bodies contains no nudity, graphic violence or even foul language — until 26 minutes into the film when the action is interrupted by a man sitting at a desk. He explains that, in order to achieve an R Rating, a film “must contain full frontal nudity, graphic violence, or an explicit reference to the sex act.” He intones that R-rated films are by far the most popular, so “the producers have asked me to take this opportunity to say, “f*ck you.” A slide indicating that the film has been indeed given an R rating by the MPAA appears for a few seconds, then the movie continues.
One of the film’s oddest aspects is a character called Malvert, a creepy-looking janitor (a familiar trope in slasher movies). Malvert mumbles, does bizarre things like urinate into wastepaper baskets (“Malvert pee red!” being one the film’s more memorable lines), and moves about in a jerky fashion.
Malvert was played by a tall, double-jointed comedian known only as “The Stick,” who made no other films; his only other credit seems to be as a regular on the 1984 TV series Out Of Control. Several online reviews give the film itself a mixed reaction but praise The Stick’s performance.
Some sources give The Stick’s real name as Patrick Boone Varnell, born in Corsicana, Texas on January 22, 1941. His death date is given as May 7, 1989, aged 48.
“I like to include Student Bodies in my special list of “movies that will make you laugh, whether you like it or not.” For anyone who grew up watching the slasher horror films of the late ’70s and early ’80s, this is a must-see.” Christopher Kulik, DVD Verdict
“The inspiration does run dry about the hour mark, but the cheerfully farcical atmosphere ensures goodwill in the viewer, making this no classic, but one of the best of its kind nevertheless.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk
Image credits: Groovy Doom