The folks who brought us Disco Exorcist, Nun of That and Atomic Brain Invasion are back again with their take on eighties slasher flicks, Murder University. This film isn't quite so crazy or exploitive as those earlier films, but it has its quotient of oddity and nudity, to be sure.
Josh (Jamie Dufault) is a hapless college freshman, still torn by his father's sudden death the year before. His troubles are multiplied by the murders of a number of students at his college, a couple of which he witnesses. Though the police are skeptical of his claims of a cult group committing the crimes, grizzled Detective Forrester (Michael Thurber), who isn't even assigned to the case, believes him. Forrester's wife was killed by the same group, and he convinces his daughter Meg (Samantha Acampora) and Josh to go undercover at the college to investigate.
Of course, along the way, lots of people die, breasts are exposed, young women and men are sprayed with blood, and Josh learns some dark secrets about his past.
The film flows pretty well, but isn't particularly scary. This really wasn't the intent, more to reminisce back to the glorious days of the knife wielding maniac in film, especially the Italian flavors. And while it's nominally set in the eighties, and has some set dressing, costumes, etc. of the period, it isn't really evocative of the time period, and the viewer can forget that it's intended to be set in the eighties pretty easily.
The film is funny, though with a lowbrow sort of humor, and has enough decapitations and arterial spray to satisfy the gore fans. The performances are quite good as well, especially the chemistry between Acampora and Dufault, who have to make their rather rapid romance seem natural. In a lot of ways, Murder University is a throwaway film, with offhand jokes, strange musical flashbacks, and a weird sensibility. It achieves what it is aiming for, however, which is to be a goofy, bloody romp. While it's not for everyone, for the audience it wants, it's recommended.
The video is 1.85:1 widescreen, and generally looks good. There's some posterization and some murk here and there, but overall the image is bright, with rich colors.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and is clear and crisp, without any hiss or other problems. No subtitles are included.
There are a few extras, a short deleted scene, and two commentary tracks. The first commentary track features director Richard Griffin and writer Lenny Schwartz. These two are friends, and have a great rapport. They share a lot of set anecdotes, talk about the perils of very low budget filmmaking (Griffin estimates their budget at $6,000) and some tips of the trade.
The other commentary features Griffin again, producer Ted Marr, and actors Samantha Acampora, Sean Sullivan and Nat Sylva. This track deals much more with the actors, how they approached their roles, doing love scenes, and of course lots of set anecdotes. Both commentaries are fun to listen to, and add a lot to the viewing experience.
Murder University isn't a perfect movie, and definitely not suited to all tastes, but it's fun, gory, an able to achieve a lot of value for the little amount of money they had. If you are a fan of other Scorpio Film Releasing films, you'll know what to expect, and probably enjoy this movie. Non-fans of slasher / exploitation films should probably stay away.