“Hell High” (1989)
Studio: DGS Productions
Starring: Maureen Mooney, Christopher Stryker, Christopher Cousins
Directed by: Douglas Grossman
Running Time: 79 min.
Synopsis: Teenagers harass their school teacher who has some demons in her past.
I first saw this film back in 1990 on Cinemax. I thought it wasn’t a bad horror film. I’ve recently seen it again on DVD. Sometimes when I revisit a film I haven’t seen for years, it usually still stands the test of time or is not as good as I remembered it. Hell High is still a good film, not the best, but a good horror flick from the 1980’s.
Made in 1986, but released in 1989, Hell High is about a group of high school students that terrorize one of their teachers. Before all that happens, the film begins years earlier, where we see a little girl who looks like she strolled out of a fairy tale, wearing a white Alice in Wonderland like party dress. She goes down to a swamp where she uses an abandoned shack as a playhouse. While playing with her dolls, a couple comes by on their bike. The couple enters the shack, but the little girl sneaks out the back before they see her. The two start to make out as the girl watches. The woman then complains that she doesn’t want to be there because the place freaks her out. The guy gets pissed and takes one of the girl’s dolls and rips its head off. Upset with the couple, the little girl fills up a bucket with mud and throws it on the couple as they ride by on their bike when they’re leaving. This causes them to lose control and the two are flung from the bike and get impaled on some large spikes that are sticking out in the field. The little girl is freaked out and runs away in horror.
Many years later, the little girl grows up and is biology teacher, Miss Storm, in high school. The kids in her class drive her nuts and she can’t seem to control them. One student, Dickens, really gets on her nerves, when he is asked to collect the tests from all the classmates, he does so, but then throws them in the air. Miss Storm slaps him in the face. Dickens tells her this isn’t over and storms out the class.
Dickens and his friends decide to befriend Jon-Jon, an up-standing student who just quit the football team and is now an outcast within his own group. Dickens welcomes him in, since they’re all outcasts of the school and now he is, too. Meanwhile, Miss Storm is finishing up her day when she is asked out by the football coach to the big game. She turns him down. We get a good look at Miss Storm’s life. She keeps to herself, on some kind of medication, and still lives in the same house that she grew up in. As she leaves the school to go home, Dickens and Jon-Jon follow her. When they arrive at her house, the two teens peep through her window and watch her undress and shower. Jon-Jon is not keen on the spying thing and tries to get Dickens to leave. They eventually do and leave the grounds.
The group of misfits crash the football game. There’s a cool scene where Dickens and the others drive their car on the field and Jon-Jon catches the football pass and they drive off with it. After causing trouble at the game, Dickens decides to harass Miss Storm. The group goes down to the swamp by her house. A few of them don’t want to go, saying one time some kids were murdered there. Dickens just tells them that was just a legend (little does he know). They end up going and fill a bunch of trash bags full of mud. Then the group puts on some cool Halloween masks and go scare the teacher. Jon-Jon tries to talk them out of it, but is pressured into it. The group starts to make noises and throw mud on her house. Miss Storm thinks that it’s the ghosts of the teens she accidentally killed, to come back to get her. There’s a part where she goes outside and is doused with mud. She locks herself back in her house. The kids take off when one of her co-workers stops by. She tries to calm Miss Storm by giving her something to help her sleep. Her friend leaves and Dickens, who stayed behind, decides to break into the house and torture her some more.
Dickens tries to rape her, but Jon-Jon comes in to stop him. While this is going on, no one is paying any attention to the teacher. She then suddenly leaps from her bed and jumps out her window, landing on her front lawn. She lies there motionless. The kids go and check on her and she’s dead…or is she?
One cool thing about the film is the time, the 1980’s, the style and the look of everyone in high school. Actually, when I first saw the film I was in high school myself and could relate to that world. Also, there are some good actors in the film who were pretty much unknowns and never did anything after this film. The story was good and none of the film seems to drag. They did have a lot of cheesy songs for the movie that could have been better, but everything else flowed fine. Hell High is another underrated horror film from the 1980’s.