October Horror Challenge: Day 30: “Night School”

Anne Barron (Meb Boden) is a teacher’s aide at the Jack-N-Jill Daycare Center in Boston. It’s the early evening and the last child has been picked up by her mother. Anne is relaxing on the playground carousel when someone pulls up on a motorcycle, wearing a pink helmut. Anne is startled. Suddenly the stranger pulls out a machete and starts spinning the carousel. The machete is held up in the air and the terrified woman goes around and around – until she’s struck with it.

Judd Austin (Leonard Mann) is the cop assigned to the case. He is called to the scene and when he gets there, he sees a gruesome sight. The girl was decapitated and her head was put in a bucket of water nearby. The distraught director of the center tells the officer that Anne worked there during the day – and was attending night classes at Wendell College. At the hospital, Judd and his partner Taj (Joseph R. Sicari) discuss a similar case from the previous week. Another girl was found decapitated and her head was dumped in a pond. They wonder if there’s any connection between the two murders.

“Night School” is a typical run-of-the-mill early 80’s whodunit slasher with a decapitation twist. This is the kind of movie where half of the fun is trying to figure out where the detectives are going to find the missing heads. The twist ending is pretty predictable and the acting is a bit wooden (Rachel Ward, in her film debut, is all sorts of terrible here) but the film is never boring and has been directed with style. Boston looks positively wretched on film here and it gives the slasher a bit of a grungy “Departed” vibe. Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out, just check your expectations–and your head—at the door.