As I've pointed out before, it's not uncommon to see famous actors in horror films--especially early in their careers. This week's slasher, Cutting Class, is no exception. It stars none other than Brad Pitt, caught up in a love triangle while a killer is on the loose. Was it a legend of the fall, or did it seem like it was written by twelve monkeys? Read this incredibly SPOILERY article to find out!
The film begins with a teen girl grabbing the morning paper, which has a headline on the front page about a local boy who is being released from a mental hospital, where doctors were trying to figure out whether or not he killed his father. I'll be completely honest, though: I'm much too busy staring at this hot chick. She's like a sex-kitten version of Winona Ryder, which is NEVER a bad thing, in my book! Anyway, her name is Paula, and her father(played by the always-funny Martin Mull) is about to embark on a week-long hunting trip. We also discover that her dad's a district attorney....I'll bet that becomes a plot point later...
At a bar near his hunting spot, Dad reveals that he's hunting bloodthirsty, ravenous, killer...ducks. All of this over some DUCKS??? An elderly man who hears about his goal smears some mud and worm-guts all over Dad's clothing, supposedly to mask the scent of the city. Uhhh, thanks?
Out in the middle of a bog, Mull misses a few ducks, then hears a young man calling to him from an undisclosed location. Although Mull doesn't realize it yet, the stranger is armed with a bow and some arrows. He fires one, and it lands in Mull's abdomen. He keels over, clutching the arrow's entry point as some fog rolls by.
Next, we get a VERY young-looking Brad Pitt putting some corny '80's pop music into his cassette player, then driving to school. He nearly hits another vehicle because he was distracted, then almost kills a kid riding a Big Wheel. Oh, and he then taunts the kid's mother before he drives away, which isn't particularly bright.
He arrives at the high school late, and enters his chemistry class while the teacher is demonstrating the danger of mixing certain chemicals together. The teacher asks him a question, and we find out that Pitt's name in this is "Dwight". Okay, Dwight it is. A nerd sitting near Dwight stage-whispers every answer to him, even the simple ones. The teacher makes a piece of sodium explode, and a boy in the back of the class seems pretty interested. Whee. Learning is fun, kids.
While Dwight is busy suffering through Chemistry 101, Paula is preparing her fine hot self for gym class. She knocks over an archery display on her way to the gym, and notices that one of the arrows has a wet leaf sticking to it. Gee, I wonder where it was recently used?
In the actual gymnasium, Paula gets up on a balance beam and starts walking in her shorts and tight shirt. Thank you, lord, for reading my mind. The quiet kid from the back of the chemistry class, Brian, stares at Paula(Get in line, dude!), so the coach tells him to climb a nearby rope until he reaches the top. Dwight(boy, that chemistry class must have been about a minute long...) gets under the rope and starts swinging it around.
Can you guess what happens next? If you guessed "Brian falls off of the rope, and miraculously escapes serious injury", you win! *DINGDINGDING* When Brian falls, the coach somehow blames HIM for the accident, and makes him do 30 push-ups. Luckily, Paula's still posing on her beam, so at least he has a nice distraction...
After school, which apparently consisted of just 2 classes, Paula, Dwight and another girl go to a local burger joint that looks like something from "Happy Days". Things go a bit sour when Brian appears and is confronted by Paula's top-heavy friend Colleen, until Dwight suggests to Paula that they party at her house. Colleen and Paula both pressure Dwight to give Paula his class ring, but Paula settles for a hot dog when Dwight starts getting nervous. The nanosecond he leaves, Brian pops up again, presenting her with a hot dog. Dwight returns, sees what Brian did, and yells at the girls to get in the car. Before they leave, Dwight threatens Brian.
At Paula's home, Dwight puts on some of Martin Mull's clothes. Then he makes a penis joke and tries to get Paula to have sex in her father's bed. She wisely refuses. Good, now her family won't have to pay for a shrink, when she inevitably represses the memory of screwing her boyfriend, who was dressed as her father.
The next scene is back at school, showing the principal sniffing what looks like a pair of panties while making morning announcements. Paula shows up a little bit tardy for an art class, where she'll be disrobing and posing...wait, did I just type that? And this is in high school? Where was this class when I was a teenager?
Dwight, of course, objects to Paula disrobing, but the teacher tells him to get to his own class. Yeah, Dwight...don't ruin this for me! Awwww, she's wearing a black leotard. Oh well, she still looks great. The art teacher has her bend over, which brings Brian out of hiding. He was crouched behind a statue, and he grabs it by the breasts when it accidentally tips over. *snicker*
The teacher calls Brian to the head of the class, and makes him pose next to Paula. They get dangerously close, and we get to see Brian's "Oh!" face.(if you don't know what that is, rent the movie Office Space. Trust me, it's worth it.)
Between classes, Paula is selling tickets to a basketball game. When a middle-aged portly student starts giving her the third degree about refunds, the principal arrives, probably to tell him to stop lurking in high schools. The principal then asks Paula to stop by his office after school. When she enters the office, he's hiding behind a coat rack. Um, okaaaaay...He has her pick up a cheerleading uniform off of the floor, just so he can stare up her skirt.
Brian walks past a bunch of lockers, hitting them with a stick, and looking like a zombie. Then the scene cuts to the art teacher, cleaning up. He has a series of fresh busts put away, and a kiln the size of a 7-11. When he enters the giant oven to move the last bust, he is pushed into the oven, and the door is slammed shut. Then the killer cranks up the temperature gauge, and we get a big serving of Teacher Steak. Well done, of course.
Paula gets in her car, and Dwight jumps up from the backseat. Lucky for her, he only plants a kiss on her cheek, as opposed to, you know, strangling her or something. Paula tells him about being put in charge of the new cheerleading uniforms, and Dwight suggests that they celebrate. When Paula tells him no, he vaguely threatens her by saying, "I don't get mad, I get even..."
Dwight exits her car, and tries to get back into the school to retrieve a textbook. The janitor, Shultz, taunts him, then walks away, leaving Dwight pounding on the front door. A couple of Dwight's friends show up, and all three decide to leave to get some beer and party.
Back inside the school, Shultz pushes his cart down the hall, then stops at a classroom and dons a pair of work gloves. He makes a comment about "dirty work", which makes me wonder: is he going into the art room? Hmmm....
At home, Paula gets up to answer the front door, but there's no one there. She looks around a bit, and sees someone across the street, lurking in the bushes. When she shuts the door, the figure steps out in the open a little bit. It looks like Brian, but I'm not 100% sure, so don't hold me to it.
There's another knock. It turns out to be Dwight, Colleen, and Colleen's boyfriend Background Extra #2. Dwight asks to borrow Paula's key to the school files, and she makes him exchange it for his beloved ring. After the exchange, Paula refuses to go with them, which seems kind of stupid, considering that she'll probably be held responsible for any mischief they create while in possession of her key. Also, what good is the key if they're still not able to enter the school in the first place? Seriously, does their plan even make sense???
As Dwight and his friends start to leave, they reveal that they took Paula's textbook with them. She sheepishly exits the house, and joins them on the adventure. As they take off down the road, Brian rides his little-girl bicycle in the opposite direction. seriously, the only thing it's missing is a big pink basket. The tassels on the handlebars are a nice touch, though.
At school, the kids break a window. Okay, I guess that answers my last question. Shultz hears them while he's buffing the floor, but doesn't catch them. They race down a few generic hallways, then enter the principal's office, where they look at their personal files. Dwight finds Brian's file, and they discover that he was heavily medicated, given shock treatments, and was diagnosed as a Nucking Futcase. Brian is watching them from behind a watercooler, which they somehow all fail to notice(Colleen even gets a cup of water, and remains oblivious!!)...
They leave the office without putting anything away(real smart!), and Background Extra #2 ducks into the teacher's lounge to photocopy some of the files. Dwight, who magically arrived before the other teen, watches him from a shadowy corner. He must be the son of Jason, with teleportation powers like that.
The next day in math class, Brian is handed a pair of electrodes, then Colleen mocks him by pretending to be electrocuted. Charming. Dwight is questioned by the teacher, who doesn't buy his story about the janitor refusing to let him get his math book. To make matters worse, Brian then gives the teacher the correct answer, which just serves to piss Dwight off even more.
Outside, the science teacher has the class identifying birds and plants and shit. He actually walks right over Paula's father, who gasps. Wow, he's still alive? He gasps again to try to get them to see or hear him, but the teacher claims that it was the mating call of a bullfrog. Dwight is the last to leave the swampy area, but he only stops to pick up a snake. Paula's father passes out. Or dies.
That night, everyone's at the big basketball game. Dwight meets a guy looking to give him a possible basketball scholarship, and nearly blows it by being late for practice. Something happened to get Dwight ejected from the game, but the DVD glitched up at that point. When it started playing normally again, Brian began lurching up the bleachers like Frankenstein's Monster, glaring at Paula. If anyone has a working DVD and can tell me what I missed, I'd appreciate it.
Anyway, Paula's friend Colleen is somehow dragged under the bleachers(she thinks it's her boyfriend, I guess, although the DVD once again stuttered and glitched up), and she sees her boyfriend get his throat slit. With her screams covered by the crowd noise, Colleen is then dragged into the shadows and killed.
Outside, Dwight is sitting in the car, with his head pressed against the steering wheel. He asks Paula who won the game, then they start to make out. That's exactly when Brian shows up next to the car. He makes a noise that scares Paula, but neither she nor Dwight ever see him. She asks Dwight to drive her home.
As he's mopping up after the game, Shultz finds a sticky puddle that looks like blood. He even smells it. Oh, and he mumbles something too, but the captions don't have it, and endless rewinding doesn't quite make it clear enough to make out. Hope it wasn't important...
The next day, a shop class is studying car brakes. As luck would have it, Brian is working under Dwight's car, and Dwight joins him to make sure that he doesn't try anything funny. Then the two boys actually have a somewhat wistful conversation about the days when they were still close friends. Brian implies that Dwight may have done something to alter his father's car, but the chat ends with both guys laughing. Weird.
Back in the swamp, Martin Mull has actually stayed alive, and is trying to limp his way back to civilization. He teeters once or twice, but remains standing. Wow, I guess he has 9 lives!
In math class, Paula tells Dwight about Colleen's disappearance, but he shrugs off her concern. During the chat, the teacher has been trying to get Dwight to answer a math problem, and confronts him in front of the entire class. Brian then tries to defend Dwight, and the teacher ejects both of them from his class.
In the hallway, Brian tries to make peace with Dwight, but doesn't get a friendly response. Dwight is called into the vice principal's office first(or maybe she's A guidance counselor, at this point could care less), and Paula arrives to sit with Brian. She sets his mind at ease, then Dwight ruins the moment by storming out of the office and taking off down the corridor.
Brian is called into the office, and he's told that none of his teachers like him. When she tries to tell him that they just want to help him, he swears at her(it's a great line that I won't ruin for you here) and is promptly suspended. So wait, if anyone else dies in school now, can we rule Brian out as the killer?
As Dwight and Paula cut through the gymnasium, Shultz yells at them about their shoes scuffing the floor that he just cleaned. He makes a dramatic exit, then ruins it by continuing to turn back to them and keep yammering mindless threats. Dwight leaves Paula at the door to the locker room, and tells her that he's going to study harder, now that whatever I missed during the basketball scene cost him a scholarship.
In the dark room with the copy machine, the woman who suspended Brian is assaulted. She is grabbed by her head, and her face is smashed into the copy machine, which creates several pictures of her various stages of death. It's actually kind of creative, considering that many of the early deaths were so bloodless.
In a school bathroom, Dwight has another run-in with Brian. This is going to sound weird, but they seem to be trying to compete at washing up. You have to see it to believe it....and even then, you'll be scratching your head in bewilderment.
Paula finds the body at the copy machine and screams, which brings Dwight, Brian and a small crowd of onlookers. As Dwight tries to check for any signs that the body might not be dead, he points at Brian and names him as the killer. Dwight chases him down the hall, and both boys end up in a storage area that resembles an S&M dungeon. Hilariously, Brian walks right past the exit while searching for it, and Dwight corners the principal, who is dressed like a cross between Carmen Miranda and Mozart. Dwight sees Brian escape the area, and continues the chase outside.
Somehow, out in a wide open area, Brian shakes off Dwight. The police get involved, and it's now a huge manhunt. Martin Mull shows up again, and is found by a police dog. In a scene that defies all logic and sense, he manages to scare off the dog and avoid any kind of rescue AGAIN.
The town holds a meeting at the high school, and angry parents arrive holding copies of the photocopied woman's dead face. Dwight's dad demands that the principal bring Brian to justice, and Dwight embellishes what he witnessed under pressure from his dad.
Behind the school, the janitor's busy trashing most of the photos in a dumpster. When he goes back inside, Brian emerges from underneath the trash, clinging to one of the pictures of the dead woman. He then rides his 10-speed Huffy to Paula's house, where she hears him in her driveway. She exits the house and finds no one there, then hears a weird noise as she goes from room to room. It turns out to be the little kid with the Big Wheel, who apparently has no curfew. Nice.
Upstairs Paula finds a recording of her father preparing his closing argument in Brian's criminal trial. He refers to Brian as "scum" and a "plague" on the tape. Boy, Brian's looking guiltier and guiltier. I hope there's some great plot twist coming up, because otherwise this is like Slasher Movies For Dummies thus far....
Ah, clarity! The next scene reveals that the dead woman, Mrs Knopf, WAS the vice principal after all. Paula finds Dwight in the auditorium, rehearsing lines for what I'm assuming is Drama Club. She hands him a pile of papers, which turn out to be documented transcripts from Brian's trial. As Brian watches from a hiding place, Paula reveals that Dwight was somewhat responsible for teaching Brian how to cut car brakes. Brian refused to name him in court, because he still wanted to believe that they were friends. Brian makes a noise that scares them off.
The next scene has tits. Nice ones. That is all.
In gym class, the teacher is helping Paula learn archery. Yeah, more like lechery, the way he's got her in his arms. Dwight shows up too, but is thrown out for not wearing his gym clothes. He also threatens to fail Dwight if he doesn't show up for a make-up class. Dwight starts to aim an arrow at the gym teacher when he walks away, but Paula calls his name, so he fires the arrow at a target instead. He gets a bull's-eye. A brief scene shows Paula's father still in the swamp, which is getting kind of dull at this point. Either escape or die, man.
Back at home, Paula finds Dwight at her front door. He's drunk as a skunk, and whining about his teachers. Paula gets him to leave, then prepares to strip down to her panties and wash her hair(!), but Brian walks in. He scares her, but then he begs her to help him find Mrs. Knopf's REAL killer. When Paula tries to get her hands on some scissors to defend herself with, Brian grabs them first.
In a surprise move, he tells her to stab him if she really believes that he killed his father. He then denies that he had anything to do with any of the other deaths and disappearances in the school. Paula starts to believe him.
Dwight's in a phone booth. He calls Paula to tell her that he's going after everyone who ruined his life. Then she discovers that Brian stayed in her room the entire night, apparently just to watch her sleep. He shows her the picture he was holding when he stepped out of the dumpster, and it clearly shows the killer wearing a class ring just like the one Dwight had. Wait, didn't he trade it to Paula for her key? I don't recall her giving it back to him. Weird. Anyway, both Paula and Brian agree that they need to find and help Dwight.
Dwight shows up at the gym to make up the class he "missed". He tells off his gym teacher then storms out, but promises to return. The gym teacher does what anyone in that situation would do--he gets on a trampoline. Meanwhile, Paula and Brian sneak back into the school, but the janitor finds them an attacks Brian with his mop. Paula runs away, and is nearly caught by Shulze. She makes her way to the second floor, then hides.
Back at the trampoline, the gym teacher fails to see the killer coming up behind him with a flagpole. In a scene that was apparently stolen several years later in the movie Grindhouse, the teacher is impaled when the pointy end of the flagpole is rammed through his crotch and ass. MAJOR ouch!!
Paula finds the bodies of both Colleen and her boyfriend tied together in a closet. Dwight then tracks her down, but she locks the door before he can open it. Paula escapes through a different door, only to run into the arms of one of her wacky teachers, the math teacher I think...boy, doesn't ANYONE skip school on a Saturday??? They hide in a classroom just seconds before Shultz shows up, holding his mop like a rifle. This movie is getting pretty damned crazy, isn't it?
Someone turns on the PA system and plays a goofy-sounding pop song that I guess was supposed to be scary somehow. Paula and the teacher run into a different class to try to escape via a window, but they all have bars on them. After doing this a few times, they wind up in a classroom where the killer has posted a word problem on the blackboard for them to solve. The math problem is this: "A train leaves Chicago at 8, heading east. Another train leaves Boston, heading west at 8. At what time will the trains collide? X equals 1 or 2." Oh, and did I mention that the exits are marked with a 1 and a 2? Because they are.
The math teacher decides to try and solve the problem, but has a meltdown when Paula tries to rush him. He eventually tells her that the answer is Door 1. He opens Door 1, then proudly looks at Paula, just before getting an axe planted in his face by Brian. After killing the math teacher, Brian starts bragging about how smart he is, then asks Paula to go out with him. Then he tells her his motives for the killing spree.
It boils down to this: Brian was hurt when Paula's father called him a murderer during the trial. But over the course of the 5 years he spent at the mental hospital, Brian decided to embrace the label, and make murdering his vocation. He then rambles on about being so good at murdering people that he can defy time and space to commit his evil acts. As he winds up his speech by threatening to kill Paula next, Brian is surprised by Dwight, who breaks the door open with an axe.
Dwight and Paula head straight for the nearest exit, but Brian chained it up tight. Then they break into the science lab, where Dwight formulates a plan. He has Paula get an overhead shower nozzle running while he desperately tries to find the huge chunk of sodium the science teacher used earlier in the week. He grabs the wrong rock and throws it at Brian, which does absolutely nothing.
They run away into the industrial arts department next, where they hide behind some equipment. Brian comes in after them, and turns on some of the equipment to cover the sound of him searching, and he surprises Dwight with a kick in the face. Both boys grab electric saws and start to duel, but Dwight has a malfunctioning one. He throws it at Brian, who then throws his at Dwight, using the distraction to hide.
Dwight waits for Brian to turn his back, then gets his neck in a stranglehold with a long rod that has a manacle-like device on it. Brian tells Dwight that he'll release him if he kills Paula. Dwight raises the saw, but flings it futilely at Brian instead. As Paula stands around like a ninny, Brian puts Dwight's head in a vise and starts twisting it tighter and tighter. Paula begs him to stop, and he leaves Brian flailing at the lever while he kisses Paula.
To buy Dwight more time, Paula starts to unbutton her blouse. She asks him to close his eyes while she undresses, and the bonehead actually complies! Okay, in his defense, he DOES open them again, to tell her not to hurt him, but still...and then he closes them again! Paula quickly grabs a nearby hammer and plants the sharp end into his forehead. She then pushes him into either a table saw or drill, which goes right into his back. There's blood EVERYWHERE!
Shultz shows up while Paula's easing the tight grip on Dwight's head. The janitor makes several attempts at sexual banter with Paula, which makes me wonder if maybe he was legally blind during the whole movie, and somehow I just never picked up on it. I mean, if I enter a room where one guy is dead, another guy is being tortured, and a chick is trying to escape, pick-up lines are probably pretty low on my list of priorities...
Paula and Dwight tell the cops how they solved the murders, and the only thing missing is a big cartoon dog making a hoagie in a marijuana-filled van. The couple leave the school, just as Martin Mull's character finally gets out of the damned swamp. He rolls down a pretty big hill at the same time that Dwight starts speeding up on the road, and that's when they discover that Brian DID manage to cut the brakes on the car. Thinking quickly, Dwight sends the car into a spin, and manages to stop it just before it hits Mull. Mull tells them that he can't wait to kill Brian for what he put him through, and they tell him that they already killed him. Then he yells at them for cutting class to go out joyriding. THE END
All in all, a pretty fun slasher flick. There were around 7-8 deaths, some of the gore was decent, and the lead was a pretty hot actress. I'm giving this one 4 and a half killer trees out of 5, with the hope that more movies from the late '80's/early '90's turn out to be this goofy and entertaining. Oh, and what did I learn from Cutting Class?
-So does salt.
-You can survive for a week after being shot by an arrow in a swamp. In fact, the longer you stay out there, the stronger you'll get!
The next DVD Netflix is sending me has 2 movies on it, so my movie next week is either The Bonesetter Returns or Final Curtain. Hopefully one of them will be as much fun to watch as this week's movie was. See you soon!