Student Bodies (1981) [REVIEW] | Comedy Dies Tonight

In the spirit of school season, here’s a rewrite for Student Bodies, the 1981 slasher parody direct by Mickey Rose (writer of Woody Allen’ Bananas and Van Dyke And Company, among others) and Micheal Ritche (Bad News Bears, Wildcats, The Golden Child), which is notable for being the first movie to parody the then rising slasher genre, which at the time had success stories like Halloween and Prom Night.

It’s an interesting artifact of the era, which is why this isn’t so much a rewrite but a new review built from scratch (i did cover it years ago in one of my italian blogs, FIY), despite the fact this movie would have deserved me just unearthing and traslating my old review with barely any edits, but its historical importance it’s enough for me to overlook the fact i kinda hate it a lot.

After all, it’s something to have modern movies take the piss of the slasher subgenre, so i’ll have to give Student Bodies some credit for being the first of its kind, decades before Scary Movie and its spawn run the parody subgenre to the fucking ground (with the internet age subsequiently making them redundant as big studio productions you went to see in theathers), and here you’re kinda looking at the genesis of those misbegotten films, an ancient prototype if you will.

Eventually we’ll get to those, because enough time has passed for them to be revisited and seen with a new eye, and if nothing else for being the last remnants of the extinct parody movie genre.

In terms of plot, Student Bodies it’s pretty much what you could imagine: there’s a serial killer going around killing students having sex, dubbing himself “The Breather” for his – assumed – heavy panting when killing the copulating students with unusual murder weapons. Comedy ensues, even if didn’t have to.

The killer also likes to make prank calls to its victims before hands, which isn’t a Nightmare In Elm Street spoof (since the first movie of that series came out 3 years later), but more a send off to the original 1974’s Black Christmas.

A rubber chicken is used for the calls, because Guybrush Threepwood already got enough use out of it, or because comedy props.

In an ironical realization, Student Bodies isn’t bad because it’s completely witless and knows little to nothing about the material it spoofs, but it far worse exactly due to there being some comprehension of the slasher genre cliches… all completely undermined by the fact the movie has like 3-5 minutes of actually funny bits while sporting a 86 minutes runtime, just a couple of funny gags, and the rest it hackeneyed shit that will make you silently cringe of embarassment.

To say nothing of some incredibly shitty jokes that have aged like fine sewage fine, but they’re not the worst thing, like, i’m not gonna chastize a movie from 1981 for having a Reagan joke, since it has so many worse flaws going for it that are worth criticizing.

It’s kinda sad because there are some jokes that made me genuinely laugh, some that even surprised me in how they somewhat worked and didn’t become horrendous with age… but the movie almost immediatly runs out of anything even remotely funny, so it repeats the same trite, witless, boring gags that are drawn out beyond any reasonable limit, or just throws in the most juvenile shit you can imagine, maybe hoping to forcefully snatch a laugh by ambush you with farts sounds after an incredibly drawn out bit that they already did millions times before.

But even that doesn’t work as you’ll become depressed and won’t react to any stupid imagery it throws at you, because the script ultimately demonstrate a superficial understanding of the genre and its cliches and conventions, so it falls into the usual trap of becoming worse than the thing it’s parodying, shielding itself with the “satire/parody” excuse for the fact it’s boring, uninspired, it’s a cheap ass production that features very little graphic content, and – most importantly – fails as a parody because it has one single tone that never lets up, never giving the audience a chance for some scenes to balance out the farce, so it becomes just plain tiresome to see.

Meaning it just plain doesn’t work neither as a comedy nor as a slasher flick, and the shitty reveal of “ twas all a dream” coupled with a… twist and the Carrie inspired final sequence don’t help.

Also, it’s a movie that clearly, blatantly revels in weaponizing its own cheap and shitty nature for fittingly cheap ass metagags, one of those parodies that also clearly believes to be genuinely above the very thing it spoofs… while its far worse, just a grating, tacky, witless piece of comedy crap.

I’d kinda prefer it understood nothing of the material, like zero, because it would be at least a less frustrating title to discuss, maybe not better, but not so odious.

I’m gonna have to recycle this previous analogy i made in the old review, since this film IS the equivalent of a friend in high school that says something funny, believes himself to have become the next Groucho Marx, and start repeating the same joke over and over again, as nobody wants to break it to them, until he become plain obnoxious and wonder why no one asks him out anymore.

To make matters worse, it’s one that you might think it’s not that bad by looking at the screenshots for it, at least in that it’s a herald of many modern movies that engineer themselves to be “screenshottable” more than anything else, so let’s put this this way: it’s not surprising Student Bodies faded into obscurity and nobody bothered to stir up a cult following for it, or tried to put it back into horror discussions about old slasher films, even to just make fun of it.

Then again, it’s hard to even get a laugh out of this while criticizing it, it’s THAT bad of a comedy, that nothing short of a Rifftrax treatment will make it tolerable to watch.

Maybe.

But frankly, i think it’s wiser to let this one rest into obscurity, and forget you even bothered, it’s plain not worth it, let it have its deserved slumber.

Heck, forget you even red this, it’s for the better.

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