Saturday, November 1, 2008

Student Bodies (Mickey Rose, 1981)

The horror movie, the cinematic celebration of gashed throats and bleeding babysitters, needed to be mocked unmercifully back in 1981, and only one film dared fill that need, and that film was Student Bodies (a.k.a. Was macht der Tote auf der Wäscheleine?). You see, up until then, the serious-minded genre had been coasting along, spouting out unfunny drivel without a care in the world. That is, until the unrestrained kookiness of Mickey Rose (Bananas and The Dean Martin Comedy Hour) decided the time had come to spoof the living excrement out of it. Unlike other films that lampoon and deride, this one comes from the demented mind of a single individual. I mean, there's no multi-headed committees or dehumanizing group think for Mr. Rose to contend with. There's a refreshing single-mindedness to the rapid fire stupidity that appears onscreen. In that, all the jokes have a consistency to them, causing the proceedings to be saturated with a number unforeseen laughs. Concentrating its mockery on the teen slasher wing of the horror genre, Student Bodies employs an accelerated approach to dispensing the funny. Sure, some of the gags miss their mark, but you don't have much time to contemplate their inaccuracy, as another fifteen or so attempts at generating a ha-ha sound are already flying out of the film's proverbial comedy barrel.

The plot revolves around The Breather (Jerry Belson), an asthmatic serial killer in galoshes who likes to murder teenagers just as they're about to engage in the sex act.

The Breather dispatches the boys using an everyday garbage bag, while the girls are treated to a wide array of unusual implements - eggplant, paperclip, blackboard eraser, etc.

The film cleverly keeps track of The Breather's conquests by flashing a number on the screen, indicating the order of each of victim. Also provided are pertinent clues that help guide the slower members of audience. However, the main appeal of the film is its quick succession of the braindead one-liners and absurdist tomfoolery.

The cast ,with the exception Mr. Belzer (who remains unseen throughout the movie), is made up of mostly first timers, or in the case of the lovely Kristen Riter, first and last timers. Nevertheless, Kristen is the star of the movie and does a competent job of looking sexy in a pair of maroon knee socks.

Also, her transformation from virginal good girl to slutty sleuthhound was quite impressive.

The brilliantly deadpan Joe Flood gives the film's funniest performance as Mr. Dumpkin, a wood shop teacher with a levelheaded obsession with horse head bookends. His speeches extolling the many virtues of the horse head bookend were strange, erotic and absolutely wonderful.

Coming in at a close second in the funny department is Malvert the Janitor, played with a gangly aplomb by The Stick, yeah, that's his name. Anyway, his third person line readings ("Sometimes Malvert pee red") were pretty hilarious.

A cavalcade of unabashed idiocy and accidental brilliance, Student Bodies is a horror parody with bite. The success rate of the jokes may be a tad on the wonky side, but the effort put forth should be commended.

video uploaded by Moviedude20


  1. Ah, yes, a pre-Homicide entry in Belzer's filmography.

    So...a couple of Canadian guys pranked our Republican Vice Presidential candidate. :D

    Oh, I'm putting the finishing touches on my latest blog entry. Should be done tonight.

  2. Yes, Student Bodies, along with Cafe Flesh, is another fine example of Belzer before Homicide.

    The transcript of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate/Sarkozy prank was in today's Star. Those wacky Quebecers.

    Clive Owen is a lock for the number one spot.

    Did you know Nunavut's license plate is shaped like a polar bear as well. Learning is fun.

  3. I first saw this in 1981 on a double bill with the serious horror film, NIGHT SCHOOL. To this day I quote from STUDENT BODIES almost daily and crack up whenever I pop in the DVD (or the VHS--depending on how nostalgic I am at the time).

    Nice review here.

  4. Great article and thanks for the shout out for STUDENT BODIES...However, slight correction, it has been a misunderstanding among many that Richard Belzer played the Breather. This is not true. It was, in fact, played by one of the producers of the film...Jerry Belson. No one is quite sure how the Richard Belzer rumor came about, but ever since IMDB said it was him, it's spread like wildfire. Anyway, on behalf of my father, Mickey Rose, thanks for all the support...and he asked me to say, "Fuck you!" ; )

  5. You're half-right. Jerry Belson, aka Richard Brando, is the hands of the killer. But Richard Belzer is the voice of the killer. He has confirmed it in interviews.