Charles Laughton directed once. Shame. So did Brando. Tragedy. Presumably Rospo Pallenberg, director of this tension-free 80s “whodunnit” slasher, realized that he and talent were but distant pen pals and laid down the megaphone. Praise be! As for the movie itself, it is cheesy 80s black comedy which fails at being either of those two things.

The film opens with a paperboy delivering newspapers. A paper is delivered to Paula Carson’s (played by cute girl from Stepfather, Jill Schoelen) house. Paula is approached by her father, Bill (played by Martin Mull), who is the district attorney, on his way to a hunting trip. He warns Paula to do her homework, not to allow boys in the house, and most importantly not to cut class (as it might prove deadly). Paula then puts the newspaper in the bin, showing its headline: “Boy who killed father released from Mental Asylum.” What a time to go hunting ducks! Anyway, Bill Carson drives to the swamps for his hunting trip. As he takes shots into the air, someone is hiding nearby and holding a bow and arrows. The person calls over to Bill  and fires an arrow into him. Bill cries out and then falls down to the ground, presumably dead. But more of that later.

Hunter has  become the hunted

Meanwhile, Dwight Ingalls (played by Brad Pitt) shows his lousy driving skills by almost causing two car accidents on his ride to school where he gets teased by friends for not knowing what is H20. Later, after gym class, Paula  walks past a set of bow and arrows and notices a leaf hanging off one of the arrow.She picks the leaf off. Clue already? Anyway, later she meets with her friend Colleen (played by Brenda James) and her boyfriend Dwight at a hot dog stand. Dwight then goes to buy Paula a hot dog, but he is beaten by Brian (played by Donovan Leich) who hands her one and says, “You had that look.” Dwight and Brian then have man to man talk. It turns out they used to be friends until Brian went to mental institution. Could Brian be that creepy kid from newspapers? My hunch tells me he just might be.

Ars gratia artis

That evening Dwight tried to score at Paula’s place but she wouldn’t give him until he improves his grades. Really odd condition. But he is not the only one who wants to score. The principal Mr. Dante (played by Roddy McDowall) seems to be perv since he invited Paula to his office in order to give her a present, which he deliberately placed on the floor so he could see her underpants from his hiding place after Paula bents over. Really nice view. Oh yes, and meanwhile someone burned art teacher in school’s clay oven, but spooky janitor will clean up that. Never mind that, lets get back to the view:

What a view

Paula starts hanging around with Brian, despite Dwight’s disapproval. Wanting to expose Brian, Dwight sneaks into the school at night together with Paula, Colleen and Gary (played by , where they find school records. It turns out that Brian is cannibal and was treated with electroshocks. But they didn’t notice Brian who is following them and hiding behind a water dispenser. Seems Brian is not the only one who like hide and seek. Tomorrow, at school basketball game Gary was hiding under retractable stands and looking under skirts. Colleen joins him just to find out she and Gary are not alone. Killer is there too and he disposes off them quickly with a knife. More blood for spooky janitor to clean.

Shot of Bill Carson staggering through the swamp takes us to next to school day. Dwight made another incident at class, Brian tried to back him up so they are both sent to vice-principal Mrs. Knocht (played by Nancy Fish) by their math teacher Mr. Glynn (played by Eric Boles). Mrs. Knocht suspends Brian for foul language and ends photocopied to death later that day. Karma, some of us would say. Meanwhile, police sends search team to local woods hoping to find missing teenagers there. One of their dogs finds Bill Carson who starts yelling at dog to get some help. Dog wouldn’t listen to him. Poor Bill can’t catch a break.

Dwight isn’t on easy street either. Coach Harris wouldn’t let him to practice archery without gym gear. They got feud there and Coach tells him to come tomorrow for private class with his gear on. Later that evening Brian sneaks into Paula’s house where he shows copy of the Mrs. Knocht murder. On the pictureyou can see ring on killer’s hand. Paula recognizes Dwight’s ring. She and Brian agree to stop him. Tomorrow, after private class with Dwight, Coach Harris decides to let some steam off on a trampoline. Our killer takes opportunity to sneak up on him and place sharp American flag under trampoline. Poor Coach didn’t suspect anything so flag thrusts him right through his ass. You might say he gave his ass for America. YEEAAAAHH!

Meanwhile, Brian and Paula are back to school to stop Dwight. Spooky janitor Shultz (played by Robert Glaudini) scares them away with his broom, while accusing Brian to be a murderer. They each run in opposite directions. Paula finds missing lovebirds in the locker. Then Dwight comes by and she starts running again. She stumbles upon Mr. Glynn, tells him Dwight is the killer and then they both hide in the science room. Doors behind them lock and the only way to get out is by solving math problem killer has left on blackboard. Mr. Grynn solves the problem and opens door number 1. Then, for no apparent reason, Brian reveals himself as a killer by yelling “Wrong door!” and chopping Mr. Glynn with an axe. Why did he do that when everyone else were suspecting Dwight is beyond me. So, the killer is the one who was the most suspicious from the very start. Seems to me they pulled Gyles here. Anyway, Brian was just about to kill Paula when Dwight shows up. Dumb as he is, Dwight ends up with his head captured between clamps so Paula had to use her girly charms, seduce Brian and finish him off with a claw hammer. On their way back they almost hit Bill Carson with the car who somehow staggered back to civilization. He asks Paula is she is cutting classes and that’s where this nightmare ends. Pretty dumb movie.

Conclusion: The basic ideas were there along with a rudimentary plot twist, they just managed to forget to add anything interesting in-between. So boring in fact, the small instances of things going on in the background became the most interesting factors. All throughout its running time, Cutting Class is careful to give both Brian and Dwight equal cause to hate most of the people who eventually turn up dead, while simultaneously serving up the expected obvious red herrings in the form of Schultz the janitor and Principal Dante. Unfortunately, however, only one member of the cast ever seems actually capable of hating someone enough to kill them, and that’s Brian. Now, when normal people make a “whodunnit” movie, they throw in some clues here and there as well as a couple of red herrings. What they don’t do is have the killer be the one person they’ve been pointing big red arrows at the previous 70 minutes. But Cutting Class does exactly that. To ‘cut’ to the chase, Cutting Class kinda sucks… A lot. It’s boring and slow and there’s very little to keep you interested until the end. The chicks are cute, the boobs are minimal, and the characters are uninteresting. I really can’t find any reason to tell you to give a watch. So give it a pass.

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