Satan’s School for Girls

Elizabeth, who never lets reality get in her way, is certain that her depressed sister couldn’t have committed suicide because she didn’t slit her wrists when their parents died.  Let us hope that Elizabeth is not going into psychiatry.  So, she’s off to her dead sibling’s boarding school, which is very probably the worst school in history.  While everyone is busy not learning, more depressed girls are found dead, and Elizabeth wanders around at night in a white gown and a lantern because it looks cool in the wind.  She befriends a bunch of girls who don’t have enough screen time to matter, but she does team up with Roberta, who will some day be taken away from humdrum police work by Charlie.  This is perhaps Elizabeth’s greatest test, because it is so obvious that Roberta is played by a better actress.  Together, they search for the reason the film is titled Satan’s School for Girls.

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw an influx of Satan films.  The Devil was popping up everywhere, impregnating Rosemary, sending his son to mess with Gregory Peck’s head, and, apparently, spending his off time running a school for girls.  Well, someone had to.  For many of these movies to work, the audience had to believe that God had an opponent who could do very nasty things, often with a pliers and duct tape.  This is not one of those films.  The Devil is taken as seriously as The Mummy or The Wolf Man.  There’s no scripture reading, and no reason for good Christians to look over their shoulders.  Nor is there any reason to be a good Christian (it doesn’t help).  This is a monster movie, with no hidden agenda.

It is also a made-for-TV flick from 1973, so it’s not going to shock or frighten anyone.  Well, it might shock cinematographers when they see what was considered acceptable in their craft thirty years ago, and it might frighten directors when they realize to what depths they could sink.  But for everyone else, it’s pretty light stuff.

However, even with the lowly production values and implicit television censorship, it isn’t a bad little flick.  The story is predictable, but not boring.  There’s one satisfying murder (beware sorority sisters bearing poles, that’s all I’ll say), and either Roberta is given some reasonable dialog or Kate Jackson has talent (and I’m putting my money on the second).  I’ve heard multiple Christians object to the ending, so that gives it an extra star right there.

If you were thinking of picking this up in hopes of seeing two of Charlie’s Angels in cute schoolgirl outfits, you’ll want to make other plans.  Might I suggest The Craft.  Jackson and Cheryl Ladd are as lovely as ever, but keep themselves covered.  Apparently, Satan isn’t interested in the sins of the flesh at his school.

If you want an undemanding, “scary” flick to watch with the whole family, you could do worse than Satan’s School for Girls.  It won’t scare Little Billy or upset Grandma Ethel, and has just enough to keep everyone watching to the end.