Whenever I hear someone say that there are no original ideas left, I roll my eyes. That seems like a loafing excuse to pardon the spate of prosaic, derivative dross currently cluttering video shelves (it's kind of cute to insinuate that video shelves still exist, isn't it?). Somewhere on this petrous marble we call Earth, there is ground waiting to be broken. Or so I thought before watching 1987's Zombie High. I won't tell you that my beliefs are shaken to the core, but they were jostled a bit. Remember Disturbing Behavior, the glossy teen thriller that cropped up in the wake of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer? It was halfway decent. Hey, it featured Katie Holmes at her hottest, so it couldn't have been that bad.
Well, it's a ripoff. To specify, it's a virtual remake of Zombie High. Virginia Madsen stars as Andrea, a college student struggling to acclimate with her new surroundings. She's a freshman at a stuffy, turgid boarding school that is opening its doors to females for the first time in its 100-year history. It doesn't take long for Andrea to realize that her fellow pupils are exceedingly untoward. Cold, stoic, creepy. They act the same, they look the same...they...hmm, what's the word I'm looking for? Drone? No. Automaton? Warmer, but no. Zombie? YES! But no. See, the title is misleading. These aren't actual zombies.
As it turns out, the dean of admissions is an immortal ghoul who lobotomizes undergrads. He uses their brain sauce to foment a serum that keeps his flesh from decomposing. Technically, the student body is not comprised of the living dead. Plus, this isn't a high school we're talking about, which makes the title doubly strabismic. If there is one thing I won't tolerate, it's a strabismic appellation. Goddamn strabismic appellations! Naturally, a rebellious side character ditches the underhanded university only to reappear later in the film as a "zombie." It's Disturbing Behavior, I'm telling you.
I predicted every twist, but I must admit, I had fun with Zombie High. Madsen is reliable, the cheese quotient is off the charts (the in-house soundtrack is hysterical) and I smirked more than I scowled. Would I recommend it? That's a different question altogether. The gore is dry, and aside from intermittent profanity, this flick doesn't earn its R rating. I won't even go near the plot holes. I'll give it this much; if it was on television on a slothful Saturday afternoon, I'd watch it again. If you have free time, read up on Zombie High's blooper-ridden production. Apparently, the crew consisted of film students. Oh, the crushing irony!