** Out of 5
Tagline- Where the Teachers and Students Never Die
Release Date- October 2nd, 1987
Running Time- 90-Minutes
Screenplay- Tim Doyle, Aziz Ghazal & Elizabeth Passarelli
Director- Ron Link
Starring- Virginia Madsen, Paul Feig, Sherilyn Fenn, Scott Coffey, James Wilder
Released in 1987 Zombie High is a forgotten long OOP movie that actually has a pretty good cast with Virginia Madsen, Sherilyn Fenn and Paul Feig who is probably best known for his writing on the cult show Freaks and Geeks, but despite the cast not many remember Zombie High. The film was released at a time when the tide was starting to turn a bit on the horror genre as the slasher film was on the decline and even zombie films as well. After the success of Return of the Living Dead in 1985, zombie films took a more comedic approach and while a popular film people forget how influential it was. Zombie High takes a light and fun approach rather than horror.
Based off the title you’re probably expecting zombies going around attacking people at a high school right? Well you’d be wrong as the title is very misleading. First off they really aren’t zombies and are nothing like the Romero themed zombies. If anything it’s more like the pre-Romero zombies and even than they are quite different. Think more along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers without aliens; if anything this shares a little in common with Disturbing Behavior. Its not until the final act we actually have zombies and they’re in tune with the Romero zombies. But mostly I wouldn’t even label them zombies for the most part. Also it isn’t set at a high school, but instead a college campus, but I guess Zombie High sounds better than Zombie Dorm. While zombie films may have been declining a bit in terms of box office success they were still profitable enough and the makers of Zombie High were trying to cash in.
Andrea (Madsen) gets accepted to a college that at one point was just for men, soon after arriving she begins to notice some of the students acting stranger and than learns of the deadly plot by the faculty.
The screenplay by Tim Doyle, Aziz Ghazal & Elizabeth Passarelli gets off to an entertaining start with cliched, but fun characters, but it quickly loses its fun and the script gets lifeless and even worse boring. Characters are dull and even though the film does have an interesting premise it never goes anywhere and ends up quite silly.
Director Ron Link starts off well enough as Zombie High establishes a fun tone to start out, but as the film goes on, Link is unable to elevate the movie and we get a sluggishly paced film that’s boring and lifeless. In general the film is played light, but when Link does opt for suspense it falls flat.
About the only real positive is the cast and I was surprised to see a few well known faces. Virginia Madsen is fun in her role though looks a little too old for an 18-year old. Sherilyn Fenn and Paul Feig are also fun in their roles, but like Madsen given little to do for the majority of the film.
Zombie High started off well enough, but quickly begins to unravel and becomes quite a chore to sit through and I can’t say I’m shocked its so forgotten. The premise was interesting and normally something I like in a film, but it doesn’t work well here. As stated except for 1 brief scene they really aren’t zombies so if that’s what you’re expecting you might be letdown. The film is bound to hit its mark with some, but for me it was a failure.