Massacre at Central High (1976)
“There’s definitely a message in all these accidents: the higher you feel, the deeper you fall.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
But when newcomer David (Maury) manages to knock them off one by one (without adult intervention, it should be noted):
… the remaining students prove themselves incapable of handling their newfound freedom — thus prompting Maury (once sincere and heroic, now cynical and heartless) to continue his descent down the slippery slope of retribution-by-death.
Peary offers a fascinating, in-depth political analysis of the film in his Cult Movies 2 (which I recommend reading). In a nutshell, he proposes that every character represents “a different political force”, and that Maury’s job “is to politicize [the two sympathetic protagonists], who are always neutral, and make them into activists willing to fight.”
Many have likened this film to George Orwell’s Animal Farm — another tale of power and corruption told from the perspective of “lower class” citizens — and the analogy is apt: high school students and farm animals both represent “oppressed” citizens who ultimately require more than simply “freedom” to improve their lot.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Massacre at Central High (1976)”
First viewing. Not a must – not at all. While I’ve no doubt ‘MACH’ lends itself easily to “in-depth political analysis” – and I wouldn’t want to necessarily discourage those who could appreciate it for that reason – there’s one small problem for the average (and perhaps many a full-fledged) film fanatic: the movie is an insufferable bore.
If you can get beyond the never-a-good-sign, awful opening theme song, you still have many hurdles ahead (and bad acting isn’t even the worst of it): a ridiculous storyline that switches gears in its own logic; sluggish pacing; almost no visual sense (it looks like a home movie); often awkward or unnatural dialogue (that library guy!); a laughable ‘rape’; something of a message which is all but negated by overall sloppiness; all this plus a finish unbelievably contrived just so the thing can actually end. Ten minutes in, I wanted it to be over; every ten minutes thereafter, I was praying it would be over.
Although I tend to believe just about anything when it comes to cult films, I find it inconceivable that ‘MACH’ – tedious filmmaking at its finest – has staying power.