Director: Rospo Pallenberg
Stars: Donovan Leitch Jr., Jill Schoelen, Brad Pitt
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Hey, do you remember the slasher flick starring Brad Pitt? No? Well, I don’t blame you, as he’s tried so very hard to make everyone forget it. But I remember it, Brad, I remember, and so do the good men and women of the always wonderful Vinegar Syndrome. In fact they just released it to Blu-ray, but is the movie any good or is the disc worth a get? Well, grab your knife, your yearbook, don’t make the truancy officer come looking for you, and let’s find out.
The movie is Cutting Class and it came out in 1989. Slasher films already had their golden age and were starting to fade away until their rebirth in the afterbirth of Scream, some seven years away. It would star Jill Schoelen as the ubiquitous final girl and that makes me happy. She was a great late-80s and early-90s scream queen that never got enough love or attention in my book, starring in such gems as Popcorn, The Stepfather, and The Phantom of the Opera, the one with Robert Englund. It also had Donovan Leitch Jr. whom I recognized as the doomed Paul from the excellent The Blob remake. The always awesome Roddy McDowall and the solid character actor and comedian Martin Mull also turn up here in supporting roles. Lastly it had the relatively unknown actor, Brad Pitt, who up until this point had mostly done minor parts on television series.
The story is pretty standard Slasher 101; there are a group of kids going to high school including a “problem” boy (Leitch) who was just released from a mental hospital, so right away you know he’s got to be a red herring, right? There’s also the American sweetheart (Schoelen), the typical jock boyfriend (Pitt), the lecherous school principal (McDowall), a clueless father (Mull), and more clichés. Well, one day someone shows up and starts killing people and the question is, who could it be? That’s the basics to the story, but it is bolstered but good acting, some decent kills, and some jokes that work more often than not.
Let’s get to the extras and special features Vinegar Syndrome put out on this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of this forgotten slasher movie. There is a 20-minute interview with actor Jill Schoelen, a 17-minute interview with Donovan Leitch Jr., an audio interview with director Rospo Pallenberg that runs 46 minutes, another audio interview with the director of photography, Avi Karpick that’s 23 minutes. Surprisingly there is no interview with Brad Pitt. I know, I’m shocked too. There is also a fan audio commentary track with the guys behind The Hysteria Continues podcast that’s a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, there is also a kill comparison video showing the difference between the R-rated and the unrated versions of the movie. Lastly there is the ever-present original trailer. So yeah, for a movie mostly forgotten, or hidden by some, that’s a nice collection of extras.
Cutting Class is nothing extraordinary but it’s far from bad as far as slasher flicks go. There are much, much worse out there. It also has some good kills, some laughs, cute-as-a-button Jill Schoelen, and a very early Brad Pitt as a bonus. So if you are a slasher-collecting completionist or an archivist of actor’s early careers, consider this one highly recommended.