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Massacre at Central High

Rating:No Rating
Release Date:January 1, 1976
Running time:85 minutes
Director:Renee Daalder

Description: Dutch cult director Rene Daalder's fascinating debut was this unfairly neglected and richly idea-laden political allegory set in an American high school. Derrel Maury stars as David, a new student at Central High School who is shocked at the degree of control wielded by three preppie thugs who run the school with an iron fist. At first befriended by Mark (Andrew Stevens), David is soon the victim of bullying when Mark believes that he is courting his girlfriend, Teresa (Kimberly Beck), and points him out to the ruling class. The worst is still to come, however, when David threatens the pecking order by foiling the three boys' attempted gang rape of a female student and has his leg crushed for his efforts. Eventually, the crippled David politicizes the underclass to fight their oppressors, and all three are killed by falling (from political power, the analogy clearly suggests). Daalder then takes the film in a different direction, with the newly liberated student body becoming an oppressive force themselves, and David enraged to the point of mass murder, deciding to wipe out the entire school. Stirred to action, it is up to the formerly apolitical Mark and Teresa to stop him. Daalder shrinks the entire political spectrum into the crucible of what seems on the surface to be a standard exploitation film. There are representatives of the extreme left, extreme right, disaffected center, intellectual bourgeoisie, and so forth, and all are nicely sketched without sacrificing the film's visceral appeal. Beyond the portraits, however, Daalder also skillfully shows the transitions which occur in many political movements, notably those which start as populist and develop into oppressively hierarchical castes. Perhaps disheartened by the failure of Massacre at Central High at the box office, Daalder did not direct again for nearly two decades, but returned with two more conceptually challenging (if equally unsuccessful) genre films, Hysteria and Habitat, in the mid-'90s.~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

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