"Splatter University" is best characterized as the debut work by a C- student with rudimentary film production and script construction knowledge… and a fool who really shouldn't have skipped most of the second semester where they applied theory to practical work.
According to Lloyd Kaufman in his uproarious 1998 how-to autobio, "All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger," Haines had been working as an editor on several Troma productions (including "The Toxic Avenger") and had wanted to direct a feature film. Yet before his better-known 1986 creation - "The Class of Nuke 'Em High," of which the nervous writer/editor/director was allegedly replaced, just days into filming - Haines directed this crude slasher cash-in, shot in New York State.
Using a cinematographer in need of a fluid-balanced tripod and actors seemingly engaged from amateur acting groups, "Splatter U" really is that rare gem all bad movie fans seek amid the generic direct-to-video fare: a film so rough in every department, each scene manages to elicit a decent laugh for a variety of reasons. Clumsy cutting and hairstyles long banned by seasoned stylists abound, although the greatest delight comes from the earnest performances by the film's imperfect cast; they're all having fun, but none transcend their limitations as part-time, mediocre thespians.
Elite's transfer is made from a decent print, and while the film has some rough spots - the opening sanitarium scene is particularly grainy - the colours are well-balanced, with acceptable grain during the night scenes. The DVD includes two trailers with Troma-style ad copy, though beware of the chapter menus and colour inlay, as both contain spoilers for the film's concluding twist. The original mono mix is clean, and the film's rudimentary synth score and rock vocals (by the aptly named "Pedestrians") are well balanced between the roughly recorded dialogue tracks.
Great use of the original poster for the DVD cover, but the two stills on the rear sleeve are for scenes not in the final film! The pictured actress, sporting an aggressive puce perm, is actually sent to her doom in a mock tribute to Uli Lommel's oral fetish killings. The film's abrupt scene transitions and a few glaring continuity boo-boos also suggest Haines was forced to re-order longer material due to pacing issues.
A minor sliver in the annals of slasher cinema.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan