Splatter University

splatter_university_posterNot to be confused with Murder University (for which regular readers of this site would be forgiven), Splatter University features a doctor getting stabbed in the crotch in the first two minutes (although the thrust doesn’t even breach his underwear, which is probably made out of the same material as an airplane’s black box).

A 1984 slasher directed by Richard W. Haines, who did the weirdly compelling Charles Kaufman Troma pic Mother’s Day, Splatter University follows the exploitative exploits of none other than an escaped mental patient.

And it’s not like anyone’s ever seen that before.

The knife-wielding loon proceeds to roam the hallowed halls of St. Trinians University, the confines of which looking less like an institute of higher learning and more like somewhere you’d register for a parking permit or start up a telemarketing scheme spearheaded by Alec Baldwin.

At Trinians, a very young Julie Parker who’s graduated cum laude (in what, it’s not stated) has accepted a role as faculty in the Sociology Department. If there’s any discipline that would accept someone with questionable qualifications, it’s that one.

And there’s a rumor going around that the newly-minted Professor Parker’s lecture hall…is “jinxed,” something that the school’s monsignors are reluctant to discuss. You see, the previous guest lecturer’s tenure was “cut” short.

splatter_university_movie

I hate to break it to you, but Trinian isn’t even a real saint!

In true 80s slasher fashion, there’s a lecher (Tony), a dumb frat guy who’s selling mid-term answers for $10 bucks a pop (Johnny Boy), lots of red herrings, and sassy language galore.

However, the nudity that can usually be counted to liven things up during dull narrative stretches is replaced here by denim rump-shaking rockabilly music.

As the body count increases (mostly… yawn…cutaway kills), Professor Parker and her students can’t find a safe space.

Splatter University comes alive for a few minutes with a score that occasionally sounds a lot like the exemplary Troma vetsploitation, Combat Shock, but otherwise, this is weak tea by even low slasher boom standards.

*1/2 (out of 5)

Shakma

SHAKMAThere are many phylogenetic similarities between humans and baboons. So much so that in 1984, a baby born with a rare congenital defect survived for a time with a transplanted baboon heart.

But it was probably a monkey brain that was responsible for the silly Shakma, an alternately violent and moronic nature-run-amok movie with a premise stupider than even some of the less evolved members of the genre.

Med students are prepping for an elaborate off-hours role playing game in a university research hospital, a healthcare colossus apparently stripped of telephones and lacking in basic security. The game is some kind of knighthood/damsel-in-distress test of wits, employing costumes and walkie-talkies, and most peculiarly, overseen by the school’s dean! The participants even bet on the outcome, because as we all know, medical students are known for having endless downtime and loads of disposable income.

One lab animal, from which the film’s title is derived, is the subject of a corticotropic study, the peptide involved in stress responses. And boy, is this baboon stressed. Left for dead after a trial gone awry, the Old World Monkey twitches back to life and begins to hunt down the eggheads who wronged him.

What follows is occasionally engrossing, frequently dull, and at times ludicrous. A metaphor for life perhaps?

Roddy McDowall, sans reference to Planet of the Apes, is the dean Dr. Sorenson, in a thankless role sitting in an office blathering into a walkie-talkie. Christopher Atkins (the love interest of Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon) is Sam, our apparent hero. Ari Meyers (Kate & Allie) is pining after him despite looking like jail-bait. She’s dressed like Desdemona by way of a flamenco-restaurant. There’s a black guy who, after the chatting up of his girl is interrupted, returns to court her with the “now…where was I?” cliche. He also does a truly terrible Scotty impression from Star Trek.

shakma-horror_movie

There’s a few other victims as well, none of whom is consequential or interesting.

Soon, the angry grey beast is hurling itself at the med students and prof, all of whom are reduced to barricading themselves in labs, cabinets, closets, and stairwells. Hiding from one animal in a 10-storey building is a feat apparently beyond the capabilities of these future men and women of science.

Not as violent as it could’ve been, Shakma is extremely bleak and often lackadaisically paced.

As one jokester on social media put it, “You know what this movie needs more of? More slow walking down hallways.”

Shakma is also known as Panic in the Tower, which makes it seem like some 70s inferno disaster movie. It’s certainly a disaster, but not in that sense.

**1/2 (out of 5)

[CHECK OUT OUR SHAKMA / MONKEY SHINES PODCAST!]