ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Hell High (1989)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I originally posted this article on October 31, 2019 but was reminded of this film when the new Arrow Video blu ray was released. It’s one of my favorite slashers, sadly one that was released too late to have many people care about it. 

The Arrow Video blu ray release of Hell High has a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative approved by cinematographer Steven Fierberg, a new audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman and cinematographer Steven Fierberg, archival audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman and an archival introduction and audio commentary with film critic Joe Bob Briggs. 

It also has new interviews with Grossman, Fierberg, Christopher Cousins, Maureen Mooney and composers Rich Macar and Christopher Hyams-Hart. Plus there’s a location tour, deleted scenes, alternate opening titles, trailers and TV spots, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Ralf Krause and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring liner notes by Michael Gingold, including an exclusive interview with stunt coordinator/actor Webster Whinery.

You can order this bu ray from MVD.

I love that Arrow kept the Joe Bob Briggs intro to the DVD release of this film, as he so perfectly explains why this is an amazingly original slasher that more people need to see.

I had no expectations of what this movie would be like when I discovered it on YouTube. I figured that it would be about a high school class menaced by some sort of slasher villain, but I had no way to prepare for the gritty and just plain weird film that I would be confronted with. This is an incredible feeling and why I keep writing this site, as I want to discover these experiences and share them with others.

Unlike the typical slasher, this film finds itself spending time with the victim — high-school science teacher Miss Brook Storm (Maureen Mooney), who is barely keeping it together after some repressed childhood trauma. It’s also about a former quarterback named Jon-Jon who grows sick of the game and his sinister teammates, so he falls in with the delinquents like Dickens, Queenie and Smiler.

Speaking of that childhood trauma, it starts the film. In a swamp, a man and a woman are making love when he decides to start beating her with a doll that belongs to a little girl. The little girl watches and grabs some mud, waiting for the two to leave the swamp. As they do, she throws it in the man’s eyes and he wrecks, sending the man and woman into poles which impale them as the little girl stares at the accident she’s caused. Yes — that’s Ms. Storm and this murder has now become an urban legend as some believe a swamp monster is the real cause of these two killings.

As Jon-Jon becomes part of this new gang, they decide to ruin the football game by driving on the field in the middle of a play and stealing the game ball. It might seem like this movie has become a teen sex comedy at this point, but don’t worry. Soon, it will stop meandering and get even stranger.

The gang now puts on Halloween masks and belts Ms. Storm’s home with swamp mud before the shenanigans turn into full-blown sexual assault. You’d think that Queenie, the lone girl in the gang, would be against this, but even she joins in, subverting the very slasher nature that you expect from this film.

This is a movie that I want more people to see. Please go out of you way — you don’t have to thanks to Arrow Video — to watch it.

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