I really wanted to like Satan’s School For Girls. In fact, I had been saving it in favor of digging up other less well-known TV movies, because I had it in the back of my mind that if I didn’t find anything else one week I could always watch this. But I should have known I was in trouble today when I sat down to watch it and saw the name Aaron Spelling flash up on the screen; I mean even for Hollywood, his infliction of his daughter Tori on the American viewing public is a pretty severe case of nepotism, and I’m pretty sure the very definition of the word involves a gif of her whinnying, “Daddy, I want to be on a SHOW!” And that’s why I am sure that a movie he produced the year she was born was able to be ruined by her mere presence on Earth. So I’m already hearing the sad trombone as the film begins and…
A young woman drives away from an unseen terror. She goes to her sister’s house, gets killed by someone who makes it look like a suicide, but her sister (Pamela Franklin) comes home and doesn’t believe she killed herself. So Pamela enrolls in her sister’s old art college, which is in Salem Mass and includes students played by Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd. There is a hot nice male teacher and a mean older male teacher with a mellifluous voice; he is the psych teacher no one likes who does nothing but try to break the minds of rats in a maze. Some other students “kill themselves.” The headmistress is a bitch.
And that’s the whole plot. It is stretched very thin, so that I had lots of time to zone out. I don’t want to say I was bored, because that would be admitting intellectual defeat, but I was able to read a lot of IMDb threads while watching Satan’s School For Girls and keep up with the movie at the same time. Was Satan the mean teacher or the nice teacher? Who all was in on the killings? Who cares? The best part of the movie was the part I liked for its badness, when the mean psych teacher flipped out, said something to the effect of “They’re not going to get me,” and took a running jump out of a second story window without opening it. Then he limped away, which was probably not part of his plan. I laughed so hard I think I summoned a minor demon myself, either that or that faint smell of sulfur just means I need to take out the kitchen trash.
I mean, Pamela Franklin is one of the greatest actresses the horror genre has ever known, and she needs to come back now that she is old and fulfill her part of the circle of life by playing creepy old ladies. And I also never mind gazing upon a young Kate Jackson or a young Roy Thinnes. The soundtrack was pretty creepy. But I was led to believe that Satan’s School For Girls was a TV horror classic, and it just isn’t. It’s not scary, or interesting, there was only one scene that even let you know something supernatural was going on, and that was the very last shot of the film! The rest was just Franklin and Jackson running around with oil lamps, checking and re-checking the stupid cellar of the school! At least Argento seems to have taken inspiration from this for Suspiria, and that’s the best I can say.
I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, there is no way I would ever send her to school in Salem, home of the witches. I’m not that superstitious, but why take chances? I also wouldn’t send my fictional daughter to a school in Transylvania, for what that’s worth, because vampires. Better to be overprotected than possessed, that’s what I always say!
The good news is that if you want to decide on this one for yourself, it’s in the public domain, so you can watch it here: https://archive.org/details/SatansSchoolForGirls