Garbage Gets Me Hot: Student Bodies


A few weeks ago, it popped up in the Netflix library search: Student Bodies, something so hilarious, yet so obscenely low-budget and obscure (and perfect for those past-midnight cable horror marathons that never run anymore), it’s transition to modern movie technology seemed unlikely. Could it be real, Netflix? Could it?!! Because you must’nt toy with a girl’s emotions!

But indeed, it was finally released to DVD in June.

See children, long before the one-laugh movies of the Scary Movie franchise, well-known screenwriter Mickey Rose, who had written for several popular sitcoms such as Happy Days and All in the Family as well as better Woody Allen films, co-directed with Michael Ritchie (who also directed the Fletch movies and the Bad News Bears, among other things) this 1981 horror parody that is first introduced as basically a spoof of any memorable horror movie at the time like Halloween, Prom Night, and When a Stranger Calls, but soon just becomes a free for-all for screwball humor that wavers between hilarious trash and something that’s just disturbingly weird.

The plot is simple: the promiscuous students of Lamab High School are winding up dead and have only their raging hormones to blame, it seems. As one of the young, misguided victims says before he dies: “I can’t help it, mechanical bulls get me hot!” Indeed.

The prime suspect in all of this is Toby (Kristen Riter), a skittish virgin in hideous polyester (“I didn’t do it, I never do it!”). But of course, she’s innocent, right? And she’s intent on proving such by finding out the real identity of the mysterious killer who is nicknamed “The Breather.” Thankfully, “The Breather” helps us out with a potential list of probable suspects:

“Hello, it’s me, The Breather. You’re probably wonder who I am. Who could I be? Could I be the innocent looking Toby? Would you trust a girl who looked like Prince Valiant in a plum sweater? Maybe I’m Dr. Sigmund; a man who was once arrested for corrupting the morals of a hooker. Then there’s Malvert; with an I.Q. of a handball and the personality of a parking meter: violated! Could I be the principal Mr. Peters; a man who keeps cheese in his underwear to attract mice? Let’s not Ms. Leclair; English teacher by day and English teacher by night. Ah, Miss Mumsley; She’s eats 12 prunes a day and nothing happens. Nurse Krud and Ms. Van Dyke; what’s in a name? Everything! And then there Dumpkin; a man who sleeps with nuts in between horsehead bookends.”

Despite the obscurity of almost the entire cast, all of whom have few other film credits, if any, Richard Belzer surprisingly supplied the voice of the mysterious Breather, a serial killer with a contempt for sexually active teenagers and an interesting foray of weapons: paper clips, belt sanding cases, and even eggplants. Every time someone or something (like a fly) is killed, the body count flashes on screen, making this just about the easiest damned murder mystery to solve! Well… maybe if it was one that adhered to any sort of logic. But even the Breather gets stupidly irreverent, calling and informing the investigative team of various school administrators and teachers where he will strike next.

Of course some of the free-for-all approach has been criticized as a drawback when it comes to tying it all up with a reasonable ending and the movie seems to run out of steam by the last five minutes in a wash of circus-like surrealism. It becomes so spoof-heavy as humor trumps any real desire to follow a sensible, solvable mystery. But then again, the piss-your-pants stupid nonsense style is the movie’s best features! Who gives a damn whether the mystery in the end makes any sense when the killer on the loose is attacking people with typing team trophies?!

Nonetheless, the film has thankfully achieved transition to modern technological formats. But despite the enthusiasm of it’s cult fan base, there is relatively background available on the film. Even the DVD is a bare-bones one. Also, my compliments to Netflix who’s Instant viewing library has recently filled with many more never-thought-I’d-find-this-movie-here titles.

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One Response

  1. That is very strange… if not downright meshuganeh.
    I know exactly why The Belz accepted the role. He must have been thoroughly fed up with stupidly meaningless horror movies… same here.
    =^..^=

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