Definitely the type of "popcorn" flick better appreciated if seen as a youngster. This is probably what lend to its complete box office failure upon release. That along with the tough marketing. Is it a slasher? A horror comedy? Bit of both (or three?). Entertaining throughout, but there's a distinct feeling of wasting time after depressing the STOP button with the end credits.
The three vet actors on the cover don't spend much time on screen. Dee Wallace Stone is the mother of the female lead (Jill Schoelen being quite "young Winona Ryder") who has a history with the madman before being captured and immobilized in a full plaster body cast for most of the runtime. Ray Walston shows up for five minutes for a short presentation speech upon giving the students some old school theater gimmick gizmos (sparking seats, stink smoke, animatronic insects) to prank the audience. Tony Roberts gets the meatiest part as a film professor who befalls the most amusing death.
Otherwise, the feature is strongest in the beginning and middle when we see the set-up for the event and experience being a fly on the wall as the packed theater watches faux '50s b/w cult flicks like "Mosquito" and "The Amazing Electrified Man" (featuring Bruce Glover as a dimwitted condemned prisoner executed and resurrected a la Shocker) as the disfigured killer stalks about causally offing students behind the curtain. As the killer plot takes over in the latter portion, the pace quickens and things settle towards the same ol' same ol' with a lime twist of The Phantom of the Opera. The film is set in "Every Town" U.S.A. but shot in Jamaica of all places and this subtly carries over with it feeling like an Australian production for some unknown reason.
This was one DVD that got away. I never bought the Elite Entertainment disc and now it's long out-of-print with a $50 average collector's market price. The good news is although cropped from 1.85:1 widescreen, RCA/Columbia Home Video's 1991 VHS is one of the best looking and clearest sounding tapes I've come across in some time. So if you're interested but don't want to shell out a wad of dough, this is a perfectly respectable way to at least judge for yourself.