Setting a movie in the past hinges on little details working. Frosted glass staircases and colorful boxer briefs are but a few of the things that can take a person right out of the 1983 setting Richard Griffin's MURDER UNIVERSITY is aiming for. Here you'll find yourself forgiving such flaws. (That said, the thirtysomethings cast as co-eds here don't seem to have the same effect. Maybe people just looked older then?)
College freshman Josh (Jamie Dufault) is having a rough go of it starting college, which culminates in surviving an attack by a trio of mask-wearing ax murderers. He teams up with the foul-mouthed Detective Forrester (Michael Thurber) to figure out why he's been targeted. With the help of Forrester's daughter (Samantha Acampora) they'll discover a connection to Josh's recently deceased father and the "Greensboro Devil" massacre of twenty years prior.
In short, he may as well be named "Josh Finalgirl."
MURDER UNIVERSITY pays light-hearted homage to early 80's campus-set slasher films. It's deceptively flabby at 93 minutes, and frequently threatens to wander off course. However, while Griffin likes his humor, the digressions into subjects like quality coffee in a gay strip club, Josh's cougar mom, and a music number about Pinko Commies (during a very bloated flashback) add a stamp of storyteller's style rather than detract. Griffin likes his gore, too. Especially chopping off heads, which make up for almost half of a satisfyingly large body count. (Were the titles "Graduation by Decapitation" and "Death by Reaganomics" taken?)
But "deceptively" was used with a reason. Featuring a twisty opening and dovetailing conclusion worthy of the SCREAM series, at the end you'll sit back and marvel that the overstuffed plot works so well. There's at least one death that actually surprises, and the story's revelations work. The ending, especially, steps up Griffin's game as the low budget doesn't get in the way of some truly artful shots.
I greatly enjoyed Richard Griffin's SPLATTER DISCO and DISCO EXORCIST, and this is a strong follow-up. He's got talent, knows his audience, and serves up gory delights on a platter. A satisfying slasher, MURDER UNIVERSITY is good to the last chop.
(One final question though: How do people run barefoot in the woods? I can't even cross my paved driveway in socks.) – Jay Kulpa
MURDER UNIVERSITY is available from Amazon.