If you're a secretly lesbian middle aged lady with a peeping tom son you probably want to run a boarding school for girls. And have a "confinement chamber" for the really naughty ones and no doors on the showers. Not surprisingly the girls keep running away, which is a polite term for murdered in slow motion. Mostly not a porno despite the subject matter and

hey cool
Actual suspense, and I get to type "sadistic lesbian kapo" in a second
but YUCK
Slowest burn ever

Also nicest girls ever - except for the sadistic lesbian kapo, who I instantly liked and long to be platonic best friends with. But my god they almost trampled the new student to death in their excitement to say hello and see all her pretty things. Is that how it is when you're a girl? Man, guys suck. On one point though I think the movie has confused teenage girls with boys. Now I'm about as far out of the teenage girl loop as one can get, but I'm fairly skeptical they'd really be all that keen to have some sweaty older guy deliver them a load of wood each month.

This movie is full of rare experiences for me. Firstly about 45 minutes in I got a strange old feeling, and remembered this is what it was like way back when I only got 2 channels of TV and had to watch a lot of the dreaded non-horror movies. Hell I've seen movies with Jane Seymour in 'em and stuff like that. And despite the scent of nostalgia, that's my only big problem with today's film. For the first hour, aside from one kill...

Wow let's just stop and talk about that right now. As far as I'm concerned there are two ways to do a kill scene in a horror movie: either make it real or make it art. We know how they rolled in Italy and Spain, but to be honest most Euro-horror kills just make me laugh. This one didn't. When they pull it off like here or a couple times in Suspiria it's a gorgeous dark chill.

I'm not much saddened by the untimely deaths of the average slasher movie jackassettes (maybe Annie li'l bit), nor do I wish to be, but for a scene like this to have its full effect I think it has to be pretty and horrible at once, and to be horrible it has to be a tragedy. Poor nice girl thinks she's about to escape boarding prison with her sweetheart, but whoa, no. Cold.

But as I was saying, aside from that - and just one more thing, to this day I can't recall seeing a kill scene done like that in an American or British movie - aside from that to me this is just not a horror movie for the first hour. It's unhappy and traumatic sure, but so is les Miserables. I don't fault the movie for that; it is setting up the ending and all the characters and cinematography and music and movie stuff are acceptable drama, but here's my thing: I'm not a movie buff. Despite what you may think I don't normally watch something about the sordid goings-on at a girls' school.

And boy are they sordid. Based on my previous experiences with Spanish movies though I was relieved it wasn't another parade of full frontals and sexual assaults. I shudder to think what this would have been if made a few years later, but at the time I think Franco was still pretty uptight about that sort of thing. The girls even wear clothes in the shower. I think that lady might kind of like being shower monitor, but if I may be permitted to talk about regular movie business for a second here instead of just killing and monsters, I appreciate how they didn't have her leering at the girls like some pervy old man letch. She seemed really shocked, confused and I'd even say scandalised when that one girl disrobed in front of her. It made me think, yes movie made me think, that maybe the situation of being attracted to the girls isn't as much fun for her as it might seem. I think that girl knew it too and deliberately flaunted herself as payback for the earlier proceedings in the confinement chamber. What a world.

But now the horror starts and I'm finally back on my turf. If you watch long enough it suddenly turns all last chapter of a gothic novel, complete with a shot of a girl in her nightgown in front of a dark stormy mansion. And this is where it's even stranger for me because normally when a movie gets to the part where people are creeping about the house hiding and seeking from the killer I'm pretty well done with it and thinking about what I want to watch next.

I mean suspense? First of all I usually want folks to be killed or I wouldn't be watching a movie about grisly murders, and secondly I almost always know already who's going to die and who's not. You might as well shoot at Godzilla with toy tanks as try to kill a final girl, and I lack the suspended disbelief to fear for an instant that she's in any real danger so I'm usually well back in my seat with regular flesh-toned knuckles and unchewed fingernails during the terrifying finale of these things. And yet, somehow in this movie I found myself if not glued to the screen then at least sticky taped to it. What the hell?

For one thing the movie is just good at it. The way it's shot and scored is textbook how to do the creeping about the house bit. That alone wouldn't be enough, but what's really different here is this was made before slashers had been invented and the movie didn't know it wasn't allowed to kill that main girl, so as JoeBob would say, anyone can die. Surely the last girl can't be the mean one can it? That's just not done, ever. Then she disappears and focus shifts yet again to the headmistress and we have what, final lady? It's all strangely fascinating.

And finally just about the only way to make me cheer for the protagonists in a film is to have a cutesy teenage boy bothering them. I like my movie killers to be big masked psychos or Vincent Prices, so when some punkass teen starts killing the girl I get a little defensive, especially when it's my new best friend. I felt actual pangs of suspense during that sequence, hoping she'd catch the little prick and apply one of her trademark bare-ass whippings.

But at the end of the day I believe it's morally wrong to complain that the ending of a horror movie is too dark, so Irene we hardly knew ye. Do y'all think the movie deliberately telegraphed the identity of the killer? When the supposed love of his life vanishes and he protests not a peep we know something ain't right. I get the impression the movie would like us to think back on that and go "ohhh yeah" like in Sixth Sense, but if so I think it was applied a bit too heavily. Either way I sort of like how it was done, having the girls simply disappear from his consciousness. They really were "nothing" just like mom said. I reckon a boy'll get that way.