Satan's School For Girls. You really want this to be the fantasy school of deviant nymphs that the name implies. The title alone suggests you are about to watch something that at one point or another will ignite into some kind of supernatural orgy. Maybe it's that soft-core porn you stumbled upon as a kid while surfing late night cable, only to quickly flip the channel anytime you heard a bump in the night; fearing that your parents might catch you engrossed in something other then a late night documentary on Alaska. But nope, that movie is NOT this movie. This made for TV flick released in 1973 and written by A.A.Ross (wisely keeping his first two names off the screen) is clearly MADE FOR TV. The gore is at a minimum and it is sadly not the raunchy satanic romp the title so elegantly suggests. It can pretty much be summed up by taking a line directly from the movie itself "This bus is full ladies, try the mini-bus" the bus being the “women-in-an-institution-being-terrorized-by-an ominous-and-or-satanic-presence " sub-genre which is pretty much owned by Dario Agento (Suspiria, Phenomenon) and the mini-bus being, well... Satan's School For Girls.
It was a good time to be a lady in the 70's. It was a good time for woman’s rights in general. During the last half of the century, the role of women in films had changed drastically, especially in the horror genre. The rigid and shy stay at home “wife-girlfriend” slowly began to disappear from the cameras. No longer the victim running aimlessly from spooks and monsters; we began to see the appearance of the “Last Woman Standing” archetype. You know the one. The young woman that can happily say she survived a horrifying life changing experience even though all of her friends and family got killed in the process. She was the one holding the knife at the end of the movie. The one that defeated the crazed lunatic who had so easily murdered all of her loved ones 90 minutes prior to the climactic showdown. But there's an even sneakier theme which popped up repeatedly in the 70's that demands just as much attention ...the Devil.
The year 1973 marked the formation of a more present “New Right” A combination of the political right and the religious right, and the beginnings of Christianity playing a bigger role in politics. Between President Nixon, Watergate, and the Vietnam War; Democracy, despite Democrats having a majority in the senate, was at a low. And strong religious views in politics were surprisingly gaining momentum. A good horror movie doesn't necessarily scare us with monsters per say. A good horror movie scares us by hitting too close to home; showing us a distorted reflection of the world we live in. With religion starting to make itself prominent in government, it only makes sense that some of the best horror movies of the late 60's and throughout the 70's involved Satan and religious undertones (The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary's Baby) . With that said, Satan's School for Girls is an example of an attempt at that. Coming more from the conservative side of things; it's not so much scary as it is an exaggerated bit of right-wing propaganda. Think along the lines of Reefer Madness for Fundamentalist.
The movie begins with your typical blonde haired “Brady Bunch Bettie” driving through the countryside being chased by an invisible terror. She pulls over to frantically make a phone call and only to be scared away by a drunk in a suit. Who, to be honest was probably just going to tell her she couldn't park her car there in the first place. Calm down lady! After this encounter she hightails it to her sister's house where a less scary ”blue-collar working guy” opens the door for her where she then locks herself in only to freak out AGAIN before finally hanging herself. Her younger sister, refusing to believe it was a suicide (because good Christians don't do that stuff) decides it's time to take it upon herself to investigate and enrolls in the school that her sister was attending before she died... Satan's School for Girls! (not the actual name of the school, but I really like saying it!) Upon starting school she is instantly absorbed into the “cool girl” clique which consists of saucy high school gossip and bowl-sized glasses of wine in after-hour classroom meet-ups. During the day the girls attend two primary classes. The first is taught by the super cool Professor Clampett who teaches the girl's a very liberal and free thinking art class encouraging them to “Let their minds hang loose” and to ”Dare to see things unlike anyone has ever seen them before”. While the second is taught by a much more uptight Professor Delacroix , who's class curriculum consists of teaching the girls that manipulating mice in a maze can “work towards the rodent's benefit” and suggests that the mice will “work harder and fight harder for food that is sometimes where they expect it and sometimes not” I hear you flapping right-wing LOUD AND CLEAR. Clampett is basically saying “Relax and let your mind be free” while on the other hand you have Delacroix saying “Get a job HIPPIE” In a year when religion and government were in the courtship phase of their relationship; I'll give you one guess as to which one of these two teachers ends up being the antichrist... Without spoiling too much, things get a bit silly when Delacroix is literally and figuratively pushed away by his students as he reaches out for help dying for the sins of the school.
This movie's worth checking out just to see how the other side(the right side) does horror. Even though I'm not totally sure the director intended it to come off the way. The themes are there. Whether you want to see them or not. If art is the devil then hell must be full of first Fridays.How Did The Women's Movement of the 60s and 70s Affect The Woman's Role In Film Compared To Earlier Stereotypes of the 1950s
Amanda Smith '08-'09
Hrafnkell HaraldssonAug. 15th, 2011
by Jonathan Mozzochi, Gillian Leichtling & Steven Gardiner of the Coalition for Human Dignity