Summer School (2006)
Directed by Lance Hendrickson/Troy McCall/Mike P. Nelson/Steven Rhoden/Ben Trandem
Holy #2 pencil! Summer School was a shockingly damn good indie horror flick. Let me preface by saying I have to thank CTK @ Planet of Terror for being the winner of his Summer School contest he had last year. I submitted my own high school story and surprisingly won.
CTK has done extensive research into the film and has written a review and procured a interview with the directors. After you see the film, be sure to check his review and the interview. They give deep insight into the making of and the writing of the film.
In any case, Summer School is somewhat of a success story of what 5 guys can do when they collaborate their creative genius into one cohesive story. Just as CTK mentioned, the poster and the trailer don't do the movie justice. You have to actually see this flick free of propaganda to get the twists and turns of it all.
OK enough yapping, I'll just give my quick thoughts on each of the "classes" within the film.
Having spent the last three days watching crappy B grade horror films, to catch up on his website movie reviews, Charles attempts to attend his first day of Summer School. All he wants to do is get his Physics class out of the way before starting senior year. Attending Summer School as well, by court order no less, are two of Charles' friends Dennis and Steve. Also his crush Lindsey appears to finally be noticing him. If his teacher, Mrs. Wickham, doesn't drive him insane what lurks in the school just might.
I hate to keep quoting from CTK's Planet of Terror review but he hits the nail on the head describing Summer School as "a horror movie version of Groundhog's Day". The movie follows Charlie, a horror blogger who can't stay awake during class and thus falls asleep and has his nightmares turn into an anthology of the greatest horror genre hits.
This leads into various "segments" that are directed by 5 different directors. So lets go over these segments or as I liked to call em, Summer School for the Horror fan.
Intro to Ancient Cultures and their tendency for human sacrifice
This is the first nightmare and it gets you into what the rest of the movie is about. I'm a non -Druid horror fan and bloody cloak and daggers were a solid opening set up.
Intro to Infections and how to die painfully when you get infected
This nightmare for Charlie was a little goofy but seemed to be purposefully be comedic. Very The Thing-ish and homages all those infection movies. The "monsters" at the end were too corny for me.
Intro to Nazi Atrocities and how you can avoid being genocided
My absolute favorite of the nightmares. This one tributes those exploitation/grindhouse She Wolf of the SS films. The scenes here have the most suspense and are cleverly done. The one thing about Summer School is its low budget but these filmmakers do alot with what they have. Lots of angles where we see Charlie and his friends hiding in the foreground and an enemy approaches from the background. Good stuff.
And this had ocular trauma!
Intro to Emo Vampires (or why Goths wear black)
It was either going to be vampires or zombies. They went with the one's that sparkle. You can see some Raimi and Peter Jackson in this nightmare. This is a horror comedy segment with all the bells and whistles. Even a few one liners had me chuckle.
Intro to the typical citizen of West Virginia
Rednecks and hillbillies in this one. Lots of Deliverancey ickyness and a few gun toting rednecks on the chase. Poor Charlie, he did his best to not squeal like a piggy.
Intro to the mind of the serial slasher (or little knives work as good as big ones)
Slasher time. But with a twist. The movie follows Charlie and we see his evolution has he keeps waking up in a different nightmare. By the time he wakes up here, he's fuckin pissed off.
The movie ties in all of these well. Poor Charlie plays victim but in each of his nightmares and his friends (his stoner buds Dennis and Steve, his crush Lindsey, his teacher and the school officer show up in various alter egos.
The ending was definitely the WTF Momentof the entire movie.
Summer School is out of pocket, love of the genre, indie horror done uber awesomely. The gore and splatter is top notch for the minimal budget, the actors and actresses are solid and the use of the school interior is never repetitive.
The best comparison is those 80s comedies about Summer School (I mean there's only one 80s comedy about summer school) but with a horror twist with a shot of red tequila. What the filmmakers created is a credit to what a good story, a creative gimmick, solid acting and old school effects can accomplish.
So enroll now and you'll love all the classes in Summer School for the Horror fan.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
I believe the movie is on Netflix as well as on DVD. I'm sure you can watch the flick somehow. Not all indie horror is theatrical and sometimes you have to search long and hard to find a few diamonds in the rough.
Summer School gets an B+, 3 gold stars and a scratch and sniff sticker that reads "Great Job!"
Head over to the official site for more information.
Check out the trailer below.