One From the Vaults
When this film appeared in the 80s I had thought it was going to be a normal sort of horror film and for most of the film it certainly seems that way but then this film turns into an over the top comedy about the parasitic nature of the ruling class in society with one of the sickest most depraved endings in a film that isn’t an experimental art house feature.
The film opens to the tune of Eton boating song, a song that really stinks of upper class privilege here in UK and is sure to set the teeth of any socialist on edge. Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) is a typical high school jock in Beverley Hills with a stinking rich family who seem to only tolerate his existence. The jocks aren’t the bullies at his school: instead it’s the filthy rich kids who run the school but even though he’s rich Billy just isn’t “one of them.”
Bill becomes aware that something strange may be going on when his sister’s ex-boyfriend David Blanchard (Tim Bartell) plays him a tape-recording that he made of his family taking about her coming out party. This is the tradition in the European upper classes of parties to present the available breeding stock of the next generation to the rest of society. What is on the tape is extremely perverse with hints of free for all sexual shenanigans that certainly seem to include incest. Bill’s anger at Blanchard for making the tape rapidly gets turned into disgust and anger towards his family but leaves the tape with his.
While Bill would rather keep away from the rich brats his nagging girlfriend Shauna (Heidi Kozak) wants to get invited to their party so Bill has to do some kissing up to the obnoxious Tad Ferguson (Ben Meyerson). He is getting even more suspicious of them but still can’t help getting turned-on by Clarisa (Devin DeVasquez) who openly flirts with him in front of Shauna. At the party Bill has a run-in with Ferguson but leaves with Clarisa. After having sex with Clarisa he wakes and is shocked to see her legs twisted into an impossible posture but she just laughs at him. Earlier he thought had seen an equally impossible posture by his sister when she was showering
Blanchard turns up dead and this makes Bill even more paranoid but no-one takes him seriously since the only person who would is now dead but his best friend Milo (Evan Richards) agrees to go along with him for now. They go to see Blanchard’s body before the funeral and Bill accidentally pokes a hole the face, revealing it to be fake. This might be justified but is another sign of something strange going on.
Bill gets a call from Petrie (Brian Bremer), the rich brat competing against Bill for class president. He hints at being able confirm Bill’s suspicions and agrees to meet him. When Bill gets there he finds Petrie’s car off the road as if he has crashed and Petrie is dead with his throat slit.
When he tries reporting it to the police the body is gone by the time they get there, as is the car and the police have more interest in arresting Bill than investigating Petrie’s death. Next day Bill tries telling the whole school about his suspicions and Petrie’s death but his passionate rant sounds even crazier when Petrie himself appears, apologising for running late. Bill starts doubting his sanity but Milo had followed him to his meeting with Petrie and saw some very strange coming and going that confirm Bill’s story.
Bill goes home and the rich and powerful are all there. Bill start his ranting again but he gets seized by two paramedics and drugged by his psychiatrist. He gets taken to the local hospital and Milo follows. Milo tries asking for Bill at the reception desk only to be told that he’s dead. Bill wakes up in a hospital bed and leaves, meeting Milo outside who tries to convince Bill of how dangerous this all seems.
Bill knows he’s being set-up but returns home. This is when the deep weirdness starts and this is all a spoiler from here so if you haven’t seen it lets just call it body horror with some really sticky looking 80s special effects from Screaming Mad George .
All the rich are really hiding in dark waiting to catch Bill. The rich are all a disgusting separate parasitic species and they consume poor humans in a process they call the Shunt. They all get naked and rub each other in some jelly that makes their flesh plastic and malleable and they do this to their victim too which the merge with bodies melting together and they engage in all sorts of perverted sexual coupling too. It turns out Blanchard is not dead but is their first victim so Bill has to watch them consuming and absorbing him.
Clarisa manages to get Bill free and he escapes only to see his family having their own twisted perversions in their bedroom. This includes seeing his mother walking around with his dad’s arms for legs and his sister coming out of her vagina; meanwhile Dad has his face coming out of his arse and makes fart noises as Bill runs off.
Bill gets caught again and dragged down to the disgusting orgy. He challenges Ferguson to a fight over Clarissa which the parasites think sounds hilarious and to be fair Ferguson smacks the shit of Bill. Bill pulls out one desperate move, shoving his arm right up Ferguson’s arse and pulling him completely inside out. He then escapes with Clarissa and Milo while the parasites seemed unmoved by the death of one of their own.
There’s an obvious element of social satire in the set-up but to honest I don’t think a film that goes so over the top is making any deep social commentary. The rich are a filthy inbred amoral protean mass and they have to steal anything original and special from real humans and that is exactly how the film portrays them.
The acting is very variable in this story with poor Billy Warlock a bit overstretched but he is better in the scenes near the end. The special effects are just what you’d expect from an icky 80s horror film. The film does drag on a bit before it gets to big climax. There’s not much gore in this film but much more fleshy and slimy fluids. The delightfully depraved imagination that went into recreating The Shunt is really what make this film stand out as a must see but it’s definitely not for the squeamish.