Cutting Class (1989)

Rospo Pallenberg, the director of this film, is probably better known for the movies that he collaborated on with John Boorman, like Exorcist II: The Heretic, Excalibur and The Emerald Forest. This is the one and only movie he ever directed and sadly, it’s mostly known for being one of Brad Pitt’s first roles.

Brian Woods (Donovan Leitch, son of Donovan, the man who sang about smoking bananas in “Mellow Yellow”) has just been released from a mental hospital after his father was killed suspiciously. He quickly falls in love with Paula (who can blame him, she’s played by Jill Schoelen from Popcorn), but she’s already dating the big jock in town, Dwight (Pitt, who met Schoelen on set and got engaged to her at the end of filming). For some reason, the school’s principal Mr. Dante (Roddy McDowell!) is also in love with her. Once we get that all settled, a bunch of murders start happening and any of Paula’s suitors could be the killer.

I mean, how can you not love a movie where Paula’s district attorney dad (Martin Mull!) gets shot by arrows and spends the entire movie stumbling around and trying to get rescued?

The kills in this movie are ridiculous: one teacher is killed on a Xerox machine and every kid gets a copy of it. Another is having way too good of a time on a trampoline before a flag gets put under it.

It all ends with Dwight’s head in a vice and Brian making him choose between the two men. Paula screams, “Stop fucking with my emotions!” and literally sends a claw hammer into his brains and slicing him in half with a circular saw.

Seriously, this movie is just weird. It has no set tone and usually, that’d make me hate things, but it works here. Also, if you like Wall of Voodoo, they and lead singer Andy Prieboy are all over the soundtrack.

Vinegar Syndrome re-released this film this year, giving this 1989 late era slasher some loving attention. Please reward their efforts and go buy it from them!

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