8 January 2018 | Coventry
Who wants to see an '80s slasher without gore or nudity?
In the early 1980s, making a teen slasher movie solely intended for distribution via cable television was either a very courageous undertaking or a very ignorant one. If you ask me, it was a very ignorant one because 80s slashers could only distinguish themselves from the massive competition in two areas, namely the depiction of nasty gore (various & ingenious methods for killing dumb teenagers) and explicit sleaze (beauties showering or having premarital sex moments before getting killed). Being a TV-movie, "Deadly Lessons" couldn't feature any of these two sub-genre trademarks and the consequences are irreversible now. Today, practically all contemporary slasher movies have received fancy DVD-releases and often enjoy massive cult reputations even though many of them downright suck, whereas "Deadly Lessons" is entirely forgotten and obscure. Numerous TV thrillers and horror movies from the 70s decade are still around and popular, however, but that's because they often benefited from an exceptionally great screenplay or a uniquely suspenseful atmosphere. Apart from being blood-free and sleaze-free, "Deadly Lessons" also has the bad luck of being very mundane, dullish and unremarkable from all possible viewpoints. The setting, pacing, story and denouement are standard slasher material. It's not worse, but certainly not any better than the rest of the 80s slashers, but at least all the others showcased gruesome murders and gratuitous nudity. In an exclusive all-girls boarding school, one of the students is found drowned in a lake. It looks like an unfortunate accident, but police detective Kemper immediately suspects that she was murdered. He's quickly proven right, as more girls are turning up dead while fear and hysteria are taking over the daily life at school. Prime suspects include the handsome but bizarre stable boy, the obligatory old & creepy janitor, the eccentric French teacher and maybe even the sophisticated but uptight school principal Mrs. Wade. The climax is implausible and far-fetched, but I'm not deducting any points for that since it was also a typical slasher trademark in the eighties. If you have too much free time on your hands, "Deadly Lessons" might still be worth seeking out in case you like horror curiosities, or to see a few stars in their earliest roles, like Bill Paxton, Ally Sheedy and Nancy Cartwright (yes, she who does Bart Simpson's voice)