John P. Finnegan’s ‘Girls School Screamers’ (1986) Vinegar Syndrome 2k Restoration Blu-ray Review

Next up from Vinegar Syndrome’s August 2021 releases is John P. Finnegan’s movie, Girls School Screamers, from Troma Entertainment. Despite the Troma label, this isn’t a typical Lloyd Kaufman puke and poop adventure. This film is an out-and-out slasher with beautiful girls, stereotypical characters, and maybe a gallon of blood.

Premiering in the US on May 2, 1986, in Asheville, NC, Girls School Screamers was written and directed by John P. Finnegan (Blades 1989) as John P. Finegan. The cast includes Mollie O’Mara (Escape From Safe Haven 1988), Peter Cosimano (Blades 1989), Sharon Christopher, Mari Butler, Beth O’Malley, Karen Krevitz, Marcia Hinton, Monica Antonouci, Vera Gallagher, and Charles Braun.

Girls School Screamers

What Works

When you watch Girls School Screamers, you get exactly what you think you’ll get… screaming girls, breaking rules, a big, creepy, abandoned house and plenty of drugs and alcohol. There isn’t much as far as sex since the main cast is all-female and, since this is the 80s, everyone is still straight. Although there is incest with some ghosts, so there’s that. We also get one fully-clothed make out scene between Jackie (O’Mara) and (Cosimano). There are characters for every trope—the bad girl, the adventurous one, the good one—all five Spice Girls are represented. There’s even a nun with secrets. And they (almost) all come to the same generic end… except for one girl who gets a gloriously bloody flash bang death when she flips on a light switch. Gnarly!

The end of the film reveals a pretty twisted familial history that raised the rather slow-moving ending up several cool points.

Girls School Screamers

What Doesn’t Work

Girls School Screamers starts with a Goosebumps-esque dare for a middle-school aged boy to enter a spooky, abandoned house. What he finds there is the stuff of nightmares! Unfortunately, that where the scares end. The rest of the story follows the Spice Girls as they get stuck spending the weekend at a spooky, abandoned house (of course) cataloguing the artifacts within as their Catholic school has just inherited the beast. Between long, boring conversations, a cringey synth score with no changeups whatsoever, some rather boring offscreen deaths—except for the flash bang blowup; that was awesome—and only about a gallon of fake blood, there’s not too much going on here. Although I will admit that the relational twist at the end was a bit surprising.

Girls School Screamers

2k Restoration

On top of a clear, concise 2k restoration, this Vin Syn release has three pretty cool extras that I wanted to mention. There’s an extended making-of documentary featuring interviews with writer/director/producer John P. Finnegan, editor/assistant director Tom Rondinella, second assistant camera/second assistant director Bill Pace, actor Peter Cosimano and sound designer John Hodian called 28 Seconds of Violence, as well as two separate commentary tracks: one with writer/director/producer John P. Finnegan and one with editor/assistant director Tom Rondinella and second assistant camera/second assistant director Bill Pace. Nice!

The cover artwork by Earl Kess is devlishly gory but does not represent anything even slightly this scary in the actual film.

Girls School Screamers

From the Vinegar Syndrome Girls School Screamers page:

This special limited edition embossed slipcover (designed by Earl Kess) is limited to 5,000 units and is only available here at VinegarSyndrome.com!

At an exclusive all-girls college, a group of chronically misbehaving students are “rewarded” for their bad behavior by being assigned with the task of cleaning a magnificent old mansion (with a deadly past) in preparation for its grand re-opening by the school. But when the girls discover – and use – a dusty old Ouija board, they accidentally revive a terrifying evil spirit, which begins dispatching them by cleaver, hook, car, and more. Can they put an end to the carnage before none are left alive?

Independently produced in Philadelphia by first time director John P. Finegan (Blades) under the title The Portrait, its post production was undertaken by Troma, which immediately transformed the film into a late period grindhouse classic, re-christening it GIRLS SCHOOL SCREAMERS. With its effective mix of haunted house horror and gruesome, slasher structured kills, Vinegar Syndrome is delighted to offer GIRLS SCHOOL SCREAMERS on Blu-ray, for the first time, freshly restored from its original negative and jam packed with extras.

directed by: John P. Finegan
starring: Mollie O’Mara, Sharon Christopher, Mari Butler
1984 / 86 min / 1.85:1 / English Mono

Additional info:
• Region Free Blu-ray
• Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original camera negative
• “28 Seconds of Violence” – an extended making-of documentary featuring interviews with writer/director/producer John P. Finegan, editor/assistant director Tom Rondinella, second assistant camera/second assistant director Bill Pace, actor Peter Cosimano and sound designer John Hodian
• Commentary track with writer/director/producer John P. Finegan
• Commentary track with editor/assistant director Tom Rondinella and second assistant camera/second assistant director Bill Pace
• Reversible cover artwork
• English SDH subtitles

If you’re looking for a fun albeit tame horror flick that screams the ’80s, give Vinegar Syndrome’s 2k restoration of John Finnegan’s 1986 film, Girls School Screamers, set to release on the Vin Syn site and on Amazon on September 28, 2021.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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