Release Date(s)1978 (May 30, 2017)
Studio(s)Crown International Pictures (Vinegar Syndrome)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B+
Malibu High singles out the story of Kim (Jill Lansing), a troubled high school student with no ambition or will to graduate. That is, until she figures out that she can use more than her mind to get ahead – not just in class, but in the real world as well. Swept up into prostitution, drugs, and murder, she soon finds that she has a taste for being a truly bad girl. An amateurish effort that comes off more as a raunchy after school special, the film now resurfaces on Blu-ray via Vinegar Syndrome as a sordid skin flick oddity.
One of the sleazier movies ever made, Malibu High’s advertising campaign went so far as to flat out lie to its audience about its actual content. What appears on the surface to be a generic teen sex comedy is instead a character study of sorts about a young woman falling in with the wrong crowd for her own selfish reasons. Even the poster for the film is misleading, failing to showcase Jill Lansing, not to mention the incredibly inaccurate theatrical trailer. The film’s biggest claim to fame is that a portion of its score was used as the theme song for The People’s Court, of all things. Outside of that, the ridiculous music cues, occasional softcore moments, hackneyed dialogue, and poor performances make Malibu High an experience only for those with the greatest of curiosities.
For Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of the film, a 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative has been carried out. Available mostly in bargain bin DVD releases previously, this presentation of Malibu High is quite excellent, all things considered. There are solid grain levels with high concentrations of fine detail, as well as strong color reproduction with natural skin tones, deep black levels, and satisfactory brightness and contrast. While the original element itself is in good condition, some leftover damage is still present, including slight instability throughout, occasional density issues, minor scratches, and the odd burn mark here and there. The sole audio option is an English mono DTS-HD track. While the film’s sound mix leaves just as much to be desired as its visuals, the presentation of it is clean with minimal hiss. Dialogue is as clear as it can be, and occasional score selections offer some nice fidelity. Sound effects tend to stick out like a sore thumb, but they’re well represented. Optional subtitles in English SDH are also included.
For the extras selection, there’s an audio commentary with producer Lawrence Foldes and co-star Tammy Taylor; Making Malibu High – an interview with Lawrence Foldes; Playing Annette – an interview with Tammy Taylor; Playing the Boss – an interview with actor Garth Pillsbury; a Q&A from a New Beverly Screening with Foldes, Taylor, and actor Alex Mann in attendance; Struggle for Israel and Grandpa & Marika, two short films by Lawrence Foldes; the original (and aforementioned deceitful) theatrical trailer; a promotional still gallery; and a DVD copy of the film.
Fans of grindhouse and exploitation cinema will appreciate Malibu High in high definition perhaps more than others. It’s a tricky film to tackle, but if you can manage to keep an open mind and overlook a lot of its faults, some enjoyment might be derived from it. Either way, Vinegar Syndrome’s treatment of it is excellent and better than the film itself.
- Tim Salmons