Student Bodies (US - DVD R1)
Gabe is pleasantly surprised by goofy jokes about slasher movie clichés...
The box art begs us to consider Student Bodies a precursor to Scream, a mostly straight faced satire of slasher films, but its much more a precursor to the Scary Movie series, which are spoofs of the slasher cycle (specifically the post-modern slashers like the Scream and I Know What You Did series). Both Student Bodies and Scream tease the concepts of sex in slashers (and both open with When a Stranger Calls satires), but tone of the films is quite different. The concept of the horror spoof wasn’t invented by writer/director Mickey Rose (even if the box art states that too), it goes back to the days of Abbot and Costello, but his film does predate other slasher spoofs like National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (by one year) and Saturday the 14th (by a matter of months), so we can call him a ‘pioneer’.
I’m not big on the Zucker/Abrams or Mel Brooks styles of spoof, or blatant spoof in general, but Student Bodies has a loveable and quant tone somewhere between The Producers and Airplane!. I’d compare it most to Rock and Roll High School , only unfortunately without the music of the Ramones or the pixie charms of P.J. Soles. The jokes are hit and miss, less miss then any of the Scary Movie films, though none of the hits are laugh out loud funny either. Like Brooks’ films, there’s a whole lot of repetition in the jokes (every time a phone is picked up the sound track is met with the sound of heavy breathing), and like a Zucker/Abrams movie the jokes keep coming, just in case the last one didn’t work for you. Unlike either, more famous spoofer Rose (apparently with uncredited help from Bad News Bears director Michael Ritchie) can tell more then one joke at a time.
The sex jokes are pretty lame or obvious, and the heavy breathing killer gets really obnoxious, but there are some fabulous throw-away lines like ‘We can’t go ‘round changing a man’s anatomy, legally that is, but we can change a frogs’. The on-screen text, which keeps a body count and points out errors the victims have made like leaving doors unlocked, isn’t particularly original, but it’s good for a few giggles. My favourite joke was an old fashion, non sequitur where an announcer appears to explain what it takes a movie to get an R-rating. Because Student Bodies doesn’t contain any full-frontal nudity or graphic violence, and because ‘studies show that R-rated movies are the most popular’, the announcer tells us to go fuck ourselves. It seems like an obvious gag, but it’s very effectively delivered.
Legend doesn’t seem to be putting a whole lot of money into these prints, but the anamorphic enhancement is important (though the framing appears a smidge too tight), and on the whole the print is pretty clean. The entire transfer is caked in light grain, and features a whole lot of film artefacts, including tracking lines and cigarette burns. Details aren’t too bad, and edge enhancement is minimal, but compression noise is obvious, especially in warmer colours.
Student Bodies is presented in its original Mmono sound. The overall production is pretty well mixed and balanced, but it has a lion’s share of audio problems. The dialogue is sometimes filled with unnecessary reverb, and towards the end of the film suffers from a strange doubling distortion. The music track and the louder sound effects are clean, without buzzing at high volume levels, and the mono mix doesn’t sound too flat either. Nothing fancy, but no real failure either.
The only extra is a spoileriffic trailer that features two jokes that didn’t make the final cut.
I’ve got a drinking game for you lushes out there—watch Student Bodies and take a swig every time you see a Dr. Pepper product and/or logo shot. I’m guessing the good doctor fronted at least half the film’s budget based on the quantity of product placement. Student Bodies was much better then I thought it was going to be, but still not the lost classic some folks will have you believe. It’s a damn site better then any of the Scary Movies and the second two Screams, so I say give it a rent.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 3rd June 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mickey Rose
Cast: Kristen Riter, Matt Goldsby, Richard Brando
Length: 86 minutes
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