Once more it’s time to revisit the television horror, namely this campy production which first aired on September 19, 1973 from the skilled hands and mind of producer Aaron Spelling through the distribution of the American Broadcastings Company (ABC) from director David Lowell Rich, who earlier that same year did The Horror at 37,000 Feet another TV-movie. Now, it’s important to recall that this film was made during the 70s, and hence camp and sleaze went hand-in-hand, then layer on thick schema occultism and you get a slew of basic horror (alright less horror and more chilling) suggestive tales. Although, this one did have producers interested enough to remake it in 2000 once more for television with Shannen Doherty starring, and Spelling producing it too. Obviously not a classic, fairly sure most don’t even recall it, very tame for them, once again television censors on one hand and then advertisers to fill the slots on the other, but screenwriter Arthur A. Ross known for working on both Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and the sequel The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), handled the task measuring out some entertainment.

The film starts with Martha (Terry Lumley), driving madly fleeing from something or someone, arriving to her sister’s Elizabeth Sayers (Pamela Franklin (Necromancy [1972])) home and suddenly commits an apparent suicide, the police consider the case closed. Elizabeth believes something not quite right a covertly enrolled at Martha’s school, The Fallbridge College For Girls, (a Salem Academy) so she can investigate. She arrives and meets head mistress (Jo Van Fleet) who runs the house where Martha lived, but at times appears in a weird trance, as if summoned by a higher power. Meanwhile, the staff and students all seem a tad off, such as Delacroix (Lloyd Bochner (Crowhaven Farm [1970]), who plays a professor obsessed with his mice and playing with instincts and mazes, while Clampett portrayed  by Roy Thinnes (The Norliss Tapes [1973]) , has more powerful intentions on the female student body. Elizabeth works to discover the secrets of the academy, including searching the residence (dorm) in her nightgown and with a lamp in the middle of the night, locating a secret room and painting of her sister. Fret the satanic and occult shenanigans make their way into the film, among them learning most of the girls have no family, Debbie (Jamie Smith-Jackson (House of Evil [1974])) does a silly writhing collapse before succumbing to more sinister results. Needless to state there’s plenty of other worst things one could watch, but the film contains some atmospheric moments hidden in the forgotten unpolished dirty little gem.

Franklin’s portrayal comes across a tad too mature for the role, and perhaps even a bit prudish with her attempt to go undercover with her classmates. In addition, there’s a bit of Dark Shadows tie-ins for those fans, first Kate Jackson who plays the role of Roberta, starred as Daphne Harridge on the original series from 1970-1971; and Roy Thinnes appeared in the reboot version in 1991 as Roger Collins. Though some of the readers and viewers likely make the connection that Jackson and Chery Ladd both starred on Charlie’s Angels tv-series. Another aspect of the made for tv movie, it contains n blood and definitely no nudity, which again makes all more difficult, including the aspect of trying to generate suspense when there were required commercial breaks, thereby breaking any momentum, tight filming schedules and tighter budgets all of it a far greater challenge, than possibly realized.

While the movie contains no  chilling moments, barely any thrills, a tinge of atmospheric elements, and yet is a fun time-waster, the predictable factors rank very high. Therefore one should take the time to view it, that depends, if you want Black Masses, and blood splattering the nope, skip this one immediately, and if using today’s measuring stick, this film isn’t horror rather in the genre of a mystery.  It does have the nostalgia factor working for it, and those interest trivial connects work well together, even countless years later.

TAGLINES:

  • Murder or suicide
  • A Girls’ Academy in the Grip of Terror
  • Before they were Angels they went to Satan’ School for girls
  • Evil is what they teach at Satan’s School for Girls
  • A Perfect 666

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070633/

IMDb Rating: 5.2/10

Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10

Here’s the full movie, remember its grainy, from the 70s and free.