Study Hell (DVD)

Study Hell (click for larger image)Starring Lindsay Dell, Brian Austin Jr., Steve McDougall, Shaylyn Doyle, Ryan Fisher and Paul Pinel

Directed by Mark McNabb

Distributed by Mti Home Video

Ever see that movie The Substitute starring Tom Berenger? Berenger played an out-of-work mercenary-for-hire who goes undercover as a substitute teacher at the troubled inner city high school where his teacher girlfriend got assaulted. The black Ghostbuster played an evil principal who was using the school as a front for his drug ring. In the end, Berenger realizes he actually enjoys teaching impressionable young minds almost as much as he enjoys blowing the brains out of corrupting, drug-pushing, negative influences. I’ve always described this film to others as the greatest movie Steven Seagal never made.

The Substitute did well enough to spawn some straight-to-video sequels with Treat Williams replacing Tom Berenger as the mercenary gone undercover as an inner city teacher at troubled schools where nefarious forces are using places of learning as cover for their illegal enterprises. The sequels weren’t anywhere near as fun as the original, although I do recall one particularly amusing scene where Treat Williams, right there in the middle of class, demonstrated the potentially lethal prowess of the common yo-yo as a means by which to show up some petulant gangbangers.

The reason I bring all this up is because Study Hell is sort of like The Substitute redone as a slasher flick instead of an action movie. Come to think of it; Study Hell is also somewhat reminiscent of Class of 1999, only we’re well past the year 1999 and the homicidal teacher is a combat shocked veteran experiencing a psychotic breakdown instead of being a military-grade battle bot reprogrammed for educational duties gone haywire.

Actually, you know what else comes to mind? There was this obscure action flick from the late Eighties called Terror Squad that was about Libyan terrorists that try unsuccessfully to blow up a nuclear power plant and, when pursued by the authorities, eventually end up raiding a high school and taking the after school detention class hostage. It pretty much turns into Die Hard meets The Breakfast Club from there out with the students rising up against their Middle Eastern captors. On second thought, Terror Squad doesn’t have a whole lot in common with Study Hell after all.

Anyway, I’ve now given you several films that you should watch before you ever make the mistake of picking up a copy of Study Hell. Study Hell… Oh, lord, Study Hell

It’s hell alright – an agonizing 90-minutes of soul-crushing hell boasting sub-porno production values and acting. I looked up at the clock on my DVD player at point to see that only 37-minutes had transpired; only 37-minutes – a very loooooong 37-minutes. Calling Study Hell a chore to sit through would be giving it too much credit. This movie, folks, is clearly some sort of punishment. I don’t know what I did to deserve such punishment; I mean aside from having made the mistake to rent it. Study Hell gets a failing grade on all fronts: no budget, no talent, no ideas, no point, and no reason to ever watch it.

Hell, this movie is so terrible I’m not even sure what damn country it’s supposed to be set in. There’s a plaque on the school wall commemorating all the Canadians students that died in service to their country but at no point are we given any indication that the movie is supposed to be set in Canada.

Vietnam veteran turned school teacher Mr. Keller, who suffers from serious anger management issues as it is, gets assigned the detention class populated by some of the worst young actors around playing stereotypical characters that are already thoroughly unlikable to begin with. Perhaps the first movie psycho in a non-horror comedy history to wear a Mr. Rogers sweater while he kills (at least initially), Keller completely cracks, locks and chains the doors of the after hours school, begins taunting the students over the intercom system, and proceeds to hunt them down in order to kill them in the most budget conscious, poorly choreographed manner possible. The only other person in the school during all this is the John Ratzenberger meets Inspector Columbo janitor who already had already cast a suspicious eye on Mr. Keller.

Toss in some Vietnam War flashback scenes that look like they were filmed in a Canadian forest and some character voiceovers supposedly designed to add some philosophical insight, and just to put a punctuation mark on the crap quotient, tack on an epilogue that’ll bring back bad memories of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

It was hard not to get the sense that someone involved with the creation of the film had watched some Simpsons reruns where Vietnam veteran Principal Skinner experienced a comical post-traumatic flashback – something he did on more than one occasion while talking to the school children over the intercom – and decided it would make for a great slasher flick to have a character like that actually go stark-raving psycho and begin killing the kids. Maybe it would have; maybe if they’d actually tried having some fun with it, but this is not that movie. This is not a movie at all. Again, this is some sort of punishment.

See Study Hell only if you hate yourself or feel the need to serve some sort of severe penance for some past sin. Otherwise…

Fuck this movie!


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  • Blockbuster

    Heheh…sounds like another movie that I watched ON A DARE a couple years ago…ever heard of REDNECK ZOMBIES? That movie is the one that my friends and I refer to as the movie whose name shall not be spoken. If you haven’t…check it out. Wow.