Awfully Good: Cutting Class
Cutting Class (1989)
Someone is murdering the students and staff at the local high school. But is it the stressed out jock… or the psycho killer just released from an insane asylum?
CUTTING CLASS may be best known as the first film to feature a young Brad Pitt, but don't let that fool you. This movie has plenty more to offer—like the distinction of being one of the dumbest 80s high school slasher films.
I am a beautiful and unique snowflake.
There's lots of enjoyable badness and memorable moments here. A trampoline kill that was clearly an inspiration for Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving" trailer. The subplot where the district attorney dad takes an arrow to the chest and spends the next week trying to stumble his way out of a swamp. The fact that the only black guy in the movie is the basketball scout. Or that nobody ever seems to notice that people have been killed. And when they do find out that their principal has been Xeroxed to death, all the students just gather around and forget to react.
Theresa had just moved to Hollywood and couldn't afford professional headshots.
It's also funny how the high school is run by possibly the worst staff ever assembled. The creepy principal, played by PLANET OF THE APES star Roddy McDowall is obsessed with a female student, inviting her back to his office to watch her change in to cheerleading outfits. Later, he's caught randomly wearing a bowl of fruit on his head, the last time he's ever seen in the film. Then there's the creepy art teacher, who makes the same girl come to his classroom and pose in a swimsuit as he ogles her body. You also have the flamboyant biology teacher who takes his class on a field trip to the swamp, where he steps on the dying corpse of one of the student's parents and doesn't notice. And best of all is the weirdo janitor, a grizzled war vet who refers to himself as the "custodian of your f*cking destiny" as he threatens students. He's set up as a potential interesting hero/villain, but instead only exists to deliver a final bad one-liner.
MY HAIR IS FRUIT. YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.
And then there are the kids themselves. Paula (played by the adorable Jill Schoelen, best known from THE STEPFATHER, CURSE II: THE BITE and the Robert Englund PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) is our heroine, a goody-two shoes who is always studying and refuses to sleep with her boyfriend until his grades improve. Paula finds herself torn between two men who might also be murderers—Brian and Dwight. Brian is a former student who was just released from the insane asylum after killing his dad as a kid. He's always actively being creepy and hiding behind stuff that makes no sense (a naked statue, a tree, a clear water cooler). For some reason, Paula finds psychosis attractive and starts to show interest in Norman Bates' younger brother.
How come these girls never went to my high school?
Brad Pitt, meanwhile, plays Dwight, Paula's actual boyfriend. Dwight is an idiot jock whose alcoholism is getting in the way of his basketball scholarship. Pitt plays the guy as a complete and utter dick too. When we first see him he nearly runs over a kid on a tricycle before saying, "Same time tomorrow?" and speeding off. He bullies other teens, tells his teachers to literally "f*ck off" and treats Paula like crap. (You're supposed to think that the scholarship pressure from Dwight's dad and the sexual frustration from his prude girlfriend is causing a mental breakdown.) Seeing a young Brad Pitt in action is probably the highlight of the movie and if you pay attention it's easy to spot all of the actor's typical mannerisms and line deliveries, even if his performance is pretty hammy.
Brad discovers that MEET JOE BLACK is three hours long.
CUTTING CLASS is amusingly bad throughout but goes full-tilt crazy in the last act. [SPOILERS] Brian creepily watches Paula sleep and then convinces her that Dwight is the killer. The pair head to the high school to stop him (even though it's a Saturday) and Paula ends up getting chased through the halls. She hooks up with her also-creepy math teacher, before the bad guy starts to play horrible 80s pop music over the intercom. Then it's revealed that the killer somehow had time to write a difficult math problem on the board and forces them to solve it correctly to survive. Of course the idiot math teacher gets it wrong and quickly gets an axe to the face from… Brian! In what is probably the least surprising twist ever, the institutionalized former murderer reveals himself to be the insane culprit, singing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and bragging about killing "beyond the confinements of time and space." Brad Pitt predictably shows up to save the day, proving he's not just a dumb jock and using his knowledge to outsmart the killer—except he still fails miserably. Instead, the two fight in the school's shop class using belt grinders. Eventually Brian takes a moment to ask Paula "Have you ever felt my tingle?" before she kills him with a hammer and a circular saw. This is the perfect moment for the creepy janitor to show up and say, "What is this… Survival Class?"
"Yep, it definitely looks sharp to me!"
There's one more scene after this that further cements CUTTING CLASS' place in Awfully Good territory, but I'll leave that as a special surprise should you choose to watch it.
Some of Brad Pitt's greatest hits and other memorable dialogue.
From axes to copy machines to trampolines, some of the film's best kills. (BONUS: No panty cheerleading!)
You get some gratuitous locker room boob and a cheerleader who "forgets" to wear underwear. Also, this.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Brian hides behind something
- Brad Pitt gets turned down for sex
- Brad Pitt is a dick
- Brad Pitt is drinking or drunk
- A character checks out Paula
- Brad Pitt can't drive a car
- Someone consumes beer and ice cream!