Massacre at Central High (1976) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The title of this movie is deceptive. It is neither a horror film nor a teensploitation slasher flick. It is basically an allegorical drama which proposes some very serious underlying sociological theories, ala Lord of the Flies.  In fact, the film could easily be summed up as "Lord of the Flies in the suburbs." Although most of it takes place in a high school, and all of it involves the interactions of high school society, the high school has no visible teachers or administrators, and the students have no visible families. The high school itself is a neo-classical building fronted by enormous Corinthian columns, and looks more like the kind of building that would be called "the hall of justice." The students can and do set all their own rules in this metaphorical society.

A "lone wolf" newcomer arrives in a California high school and fails to assimilate. He gets along poorly with the bullies, and actually ends up roughing a few of them up when he breaks up their attempted gang rape. Needless to say, they do not react well to this, and retaliate by ganging up on him and causing a serious accident which leaves him with a partially shattered leg, and a limp for the rest of his life. This, of course, calls for counter-retaliation, and all the bully boys are soon to die in nasty ways.  (My personal favorite was the kid who was electrocuted while hang gliding. A tip o' the hat to the stunt man for a great gig in the kite on the power wires.)

Now we get to the serious philosophy. You might think that once the lone wolf has liberated the school from the thugs, everyone else would join together in a new spirit of sharing, but such is not the case. The euphoria of freedom and co-operation is soon replaced by a splintering of the student body into various cliques, all of which compete to fill in the power vacuum left by the deaths of the bullies, with the winners to become the new bullies.

The lone wolf sees that all of his perfectly good murders have been for naught, so he promptly embarks upon a new campaign of violence, which will culminate in his blowing up the entire school during a big dance -  unless he can be stopped by the one girl who can melt his hard heart.

This is an interesting premise, but the film doesn't quite live up to the promise of its concept. The film quality is poor, a dark and grainy master to begin with, further polluted by a transfer which is corrupted by motion blur, and which seems to have been cobbled together from many different sources, all with different signs of aging. Moreover, the acting is so poor as to break the fourth wall from time to time.

Still, it is an interesting idea. Although we all hate remakes, this one might make an excellent candidate to be re-shot with a decent budget and professional production values. It also would be a good candidate for a cleaned-up and re-mastered DVD.



  • No widescreen
  • poor transfer
  • the only real extra feature is a small stills gallery


There is some interesting nudity. B-movie legend Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith shows all the goods; Lani O'Grady (the oldest daughter on Eight is Enough) appears topless; and Kimberly Beck shows her breasts and buns in some incredibly dark nighttime action.

Smith and O'Grady each died young from drug-related causes.

  • Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith died in 2002, aged 47, of hepatitis, which was basically a complication of her heroin addiction.
  • Lani O'Grady (real name Lanita Rose Agrati) died a year earlier, aged 46. According to toxicology tests, she died of a drug overdose. She had fatal levels of Vicodin and Prozac in her bloodstream. Those were just her latest forms of self-medication. She had been in rehab about a half-dozen times for both alcohol and various drugs.

The Critics Vote ...


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.8/10. That's probably too high for a film this poorly made, but Massacre is popular across all demographic groups, so the score represents a big "thumbs up" to the idea.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-. It has some cultists, and the concept is good enough to lift the poor execution into the "watchable" category.

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