Cemetery High (1989)

cemeteryhigh_1AKA Scumbusters, Hack’em High, Assault of the Killer Bimbos

Starring Debi Thibeault, Karen Nielsen, Lisa Schmidt, Simone, Ruth Collins, Tony Kruk, David Coughlin, Frank Stewart, Kristine Waterman, Michael Citriniti

Directed by Gorman Bechard

Expectations: Bechard’s other movies have been pretty good, so I’m hopeful.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-movie scale:
onestar


Ah man, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie this bad. Cemetery High is awful, but in this case there’s something of a story that might explain why it came out as bad as it did. I don’t claim to know any specifics, but when the film’s director posts a public message on the film’s IMDB page stating how much he detests the film and how it was re-edited and drastically changed in post-production, you know something’s not right!

Cemetery High began its life as Assault on Killer Bimbos, and it was a dark, black comedy about a group of women killing scumbag men. For some reason, Band decided that the title should be used on another movie, one that it doesn’t really fit at all (especially after seeing how well it would’ve fit Cemetery High), so that’s how Assault of the Killer Bimbos got its name. Band apparently also wasn’t fond of the dark tone (which makes sense, his films are rarely dark), so he set about re-editing the film and re-shooting a bunch of stuff to make Cemetery High the “masterpiece” it is today! Gee, I can’t imagine why Cemetery High ended up as the final film in the relationship between director Gorman Bechard and Charles Band!

cemeteryhigh_3As it was released the film is quite boring, and I kept myself from drifting off into sleep by trying to figure out what parts of the film were from the original version, and which parts were from the tone-changing re-shoots. I’m going to guess that the “Gore Gong” and the “Hooter Honk” are part of the latter. Originally I thought these were a funny way of obscuring the fact that the film didn’t have the budget to show any gore, but when a gong sounds mid-way through a fairly dark scene in the middle of the film I became convinced that this was Band’s doing. I mean, if I had a dark comedy on my hands and I wanted to lighten the tone, random cuts to a gong and horns honking would definitely do that. Not well, mind you, but they would suffice in a low-budget, “we can use this stock footage” pinch. The only thing that makes me question this logic is that Bechard’s previous films are all goofy enough to support something like this, so perhaps it was his idea after all. Who knows? Not me, at any rate!

cemeteryhigh_4But B-Movie friends, the film’s tonal disparity by way of gong and horn is actually not the death knell it might sound like! No, what really seals the fate of Cemetery High as a Grade-A piece of shit is its absolutely horrific sound mix. The overall sound is very quiet so you have to raise the volume well beyond what would be normal. Even still, dialogue is muffled and mostly panned to the left channel only. There are also a few instances of the dialogue recording crackling from the mics being “too hot.” Sound effects and music are then often mixed much too loud in relation to the dialogue, so it becomes pretty harsh to listen to after a while. These are things I’d expect and give a pass to in a low-budget amateur debut, but not here. Ugh. The one saving grace of the film’s soundtrack is that leading up to the shootout at the film’s end, we are treated to this track from Roberto Pregadio’s score to the spaghetti western The Forgotten Pistolero.

cemeteryhigh_2Is there a great movie buried under Band’s post-production tinkering? Hard to say, but I don’t think so. If the unadulterated Psychos in Love is any indication, then Cemetery High probably would’ve been better and more focused than it is now. Bechard’s IMDB note states that the abuse against the girls was added later, so if nothing else his version would’ve been a lot more fun to watch. As it stands we’re offered a comedy (that really isn’t funny) where multiple women are forcibly raped by mega-asshole douchebags, and I don’t know about you, but that sure doesn’t sound like most people’s idea of a good time, even if the film is clearly satirizing revenge movies and playing with established genre tropes. I’d be interested in seeing Bechard’s version, but I highly doubt anything like that will ever be released.

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be going back to the Moonbeam well with Little Ghost! See ya then!

Leave a Reply! Comments are always much appreciated!