Things begin much like Antonioni’s Blow-Up, what with a truck load of college students careening down the road during homecoming or some such event. A student is hiding in the brush, just as David Hemmings lurked through the park, accidentally photographing a murder while engaged in his artistic process. Hemmings eventually reinvigorates his craft by attempting to solve this murder, and the identity of the killer becomes irrelevant. Rather than a murder victim inspiring an artist, the student becomes the murder victim, thereby removing the narrative wall (and, consequently, the “big idea”) that “respectable” cinema deems so important. Maybe the comparison is a bit of a stretch, but hey, I'd thought I'd give it a stab.
The real story begins at a hopping dorm party, where our heroine Joanne and future almost-star Daphne Zuniga party down by standing around and providing exposition. It seems Joanne is heading up a Christmas time cleaning of an old dorm building, and does so with strong organizational leadership and a cheerfully seasonal sweater. Daphne says she can help out for only one day, but then has to bolt to attend to some Jesus-day family bullshit. While her parents are waiting outside to pick her up, she finishes up her business in the deserted hallways of these hopeless, sanguinary living quarters. Her impatient father goes in to fetch her, and is promptly bashed in the head with a spiked baseball bat by someone wearing Chuck Taylors. He then strangles the mother and backs over a dummy of Daphne with the car, which thankfully frees up the real Daphne to later star in Melrose Place, and whatever else she has accomplished.
As you would expect, the red herrings come fast and fishy. There’s a homeless nut named John (ominously wearing Chuck Taylors, and played by Woody Roll, which sounds like a really shitty ventriloquist dummy). We also get a craggy handyman and some contractor guy that Joanna has to deal with. Mr. contractor suspiciously wants to drive around alone at night, despite the subtle yearnings of his girlfriend, who flashes her tits, asking “you're gonna walk away from these?”. Unfortunately for her, titties shalt not coral a man into an alibi, freeing him up to remain suspicious in the minds of the viewing public.
Meanwhile, one of the schmucks along for the dorm cleaning ride pulls the old "toss a plastic spider on a fried egg" trick, which used to be hilarious back in…oh wait, never. He also explains how he is able to maintain a solid GPA with the intellectual drive of a drunken weasel; forget about learning stuff and whatever, just kiss up to the professors. He also constantly hits on a girl who is clearly annoyed by his advances. In summary, please get fucking killed ASAP. The group finally splits up to search the darkness for the homeless asshole in the Chucks. To placate the audience throughout this long stretch of dark wandering, the killer sticks an electric drill through the skull of the handyman, effectively ending his apparent fishiness. Some unseen asshole then takes that pesky spiked bat and lays waste to the dinner table, which prompts them to call the pork patrol. A friendly officer leaps into action with the following queue:
1. The breaking information that the homeless guy may or may not have already been arrested.
2. The hopeful revelation of a possible future phone call to confirm or disconfirm #1.
3. The comforting reassurance of the knowledge that, if someone should start murdering you or someone in your party, go ahead and give the boys in blue a call. They will be more than happy to assist you at that point.
Against all odds, the murderer stays several steps ahead of the fuzz, and immediately cuts the phone and power lines after the bacon train heads back to the station. This allows the killer to really get down to business, while doing so in familiar fashion. One of the guys (the non-schmuck) gets killed in a scene copied verbatim from Friday the 13th, in which a guy has a flashlight shone in his eyes in order to blind him during a machete hack. This and the other murders are accompanied by a Friday the 13th-ish score that sounds like the string “orchestra” (i.e. three college band nerds ) having their violins and cellos slowly hacksawed in half. I guess that's the idea...you know, free form dissonance and what have you.
After the other girl gets boiled alive in a steamer, Joanna, schmuck boy, the contractor, and the homeless guy are left to their own devices, running around this blood soaked dorm in insufficient lighting. The horrific tunelessness of the score washes over this numbing, nihilistic, grain soaked, festival of drab hokum. Joanna tumbles around with these jerkys until schmuck boy reveals that he has been, in fact, living a lie. His annoying jackass persona was in fact a façade. Indeed, he is less an annoying jackass than a homicidal retard. In a last ditch holdover of the killer’s previous loud mouth persona, he explains all of the various plot holes and inconsistencies. However, he never does explain, nor does anyone else, the fierce conundrum known as the “Chuck Taylor discrepancy”, where-in both the stalking figure and the homeless guy wore Chucks, yet I don’t recall seeing schmuck boy wearing them. I guess it’s one of those ripple in the universe deals, maybe the "Chuck Taylor black hole paradox".
The motive becomes clear. Joanna turned down his advances (he admits he “is the smartass nobody likes“, a surprisingly lucid bit of self-examination), and everyone had to be murdered as a result. He should’ve realized that homicide is not the answer. Instead, maybe he could have started a literary revolution, one in which smartass losers gain acceptance in society by starting blogs about how they’re annoying putzes that nobody likes. Just like David Hemmings in the Antonioni film, he could have funneled his ennui into a jug of artistic production, or whatever pretentious metaphor you wanna throw out there.
Well, Joanna is forced to plead for her life by agreeing to become his girlfriend, but luckily, she is saved by the red herring contractor. Unfortunately, she is promptly unsaved by the pork patrol, who immediately show up and blows the “hero” away. They then have the utter blasé temerity to leave the murder scene, saying they’ll be right back, when and if they get around to it, because, you know...donuts and shit. This leaves an unconscious Joanna alone with the killer. Not only does he get off scot-free, he completes his transition from annoying schmuck to total and complete asshole by coldly tossing Joanna into the furnace.
Well…at least Christmas is coming up. Yay presents!