You might expect a low-budget movie, a slasher movie at that, to be rather amateurish, without plot and poorly acted. ‘Murder University’ doesn’t go down such a path and in fact, all things considered, in its genre, it’s pretty dam good. Taken rather by surprise against all expectations it has everything concentrated into its 90 minutes. Plenty of tension, fear and plain outright terror! Of course, it’s also very funny.
Made last year and just released on DVD, the Richard Griffin directed movie makes the most out of meagre rations. Set 30 years ago, it may well be classed as a retro-movie, but the rest of it is right up-to-date. While it purports to be a homage movie to the 80s, it’s made for 21st-century audiences.
Where else would it be set but New England? A series of brutal murders take place at a college. For some odd reason, they have a similar pattern to previous murders that had taken place 20 years before, murders that were never satisfactorily solved, but this time there is a survivor, who teams up with a detective and his attractive daughter. Between them they try to solve the mystery but it’s a can of worms, opening up a sewer of the occult that takes them back years to a history of atrocious events.
The main character is Josh (Jamie Dufault), who doesn’t seem to fit in to the University and falls foul of his professor. Nevertheless, he manages to escape a band of slashing axe-wielding devils that run about University, unlike his two companions who were completely hacked to pieces. Maybe this was the medical faculty from the University taking dissections to the limit but it seemed likely, on account of the costumes, that they were Satanic cultists. Plenty of blood everywhere, folks, plus eyes coming out of sockets and other acts of that ilk, enough to keep you turning green at all times. Police detective Forrester (Michael Thurber) had a run-in with the devils many years previously when his wife succumbed to their devilment, so he was the obvious ally in the fight against them but he didn’t want his daughter, Meg (Sammie Acampora), having anything to do with Josh. Amputation of his private parts served as a warning to any union of this nature but, of course, that would not deter our hero.
Trying to track down the killers was actually quite easy because they wished to make themselves known and, in many respects, the action follows the predicted course until the end is reached, an ending which is maybe a little alarming and unusual. Be prepared for some surprises.
Throughout, the acting is better than average. This isn’t a genuine slasher movie containing nothing but gruesome murders. Sure, you have that but there is also a good story with plenty of humour, jokes and music, terrible as the latter may be. The characters are also three-dimensional with even the bad guys coming across as real people. This is because the script is reasonable and the actors are not cardboard cut-outs.
Okay, this isn’t a move for children or people of a certain disposition but it’s probably fit for students on a Friday night full of the joys of life. Sitting down with a pizza and some bottles, ‘Murder University’ would make great entertainment. Probably even the mother-in-law would like it but I would not show it to her in case she got ideas.
(region 1 DVD: pub: MVD Group. 1 DVD 90 minute film. Price: $14.95 (US). ASIN: B00DNJ96MS)
cast: Michael Thurber, Sammie Acampora and James Dufalt
check out website: www.mvdb2b.com