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An independent production, “Girls School Screamers” was acquired and released by Troma, who spiced it up with some gory reshoots.

Girls School Screamers

A group of women begin cataloging art pieces in a sprawling estate and find themselves stalked by a lurking evil. Let’s dig into 1986’s GIRLS SCHOOL SCREAMERS, directed by John P. Finnegan!

As I See It

Filmed independently by Philadelphia director John P. Finnegan, Troma bought the film and released it with a new title which gives me a linguistic headache: The Portrait becomes Girls School Screamers.

The opening looks like a B-roll from The Exorcist, which is a compliment to director Finnegan and his eye.

The ghostly bride would have had me petrified as a kid.

The quaint bridge scene reminds me of Beetlejuice, which was shot in Vermont and validates my love for the state that is a second home to me, Pennsylvania. It’s a region that could act as the background for almost any other US area with metro, rural, suburban, and mountainous areas available from border to border. This was specifically shot in Philadelphia.

This is the second film in a row that I’ve watched (the other being The Mutilator) that features hide and seek as a plot element and coincidentally a meat hook as a killing device.
The tropes do not stop there. We get a seance, an ancient painting that happens to look identical to one of our modern-day characters, a dumbwaiter kill, and even a possessed car.

It has a low-rent Suspiria vibe and the paper mache baby mask is properly creepy.

We wrap up with an ending that takes a stand against the incestuous uncle who is somehow still alive!

I would commend Finnegan, who wrote two other films including Blades — a golf slasher that looks like a must-find for me — for making something with nothing.

Famous Faces

The indie production seems to have been populated with local cast members who hold no other credits to their name, save for Mollie O’Mara (Jackie) who has a sparse CV as it is.

Of Gratuitous Nature

There is no nudity to speak of and the gore scenes were added in post by Troma once they acquired the property. That surely qualifies as gratuitous though I’m not sure it would qualify as a Troma film without them. Oh yeah, the incest element of the plot would fall within this section as well.


That cover art (which was cropped, colorized, and minimally rearranged for the VS release) is undeniably magnetic. A pizza-faced demon with worms protruding from its orifices and sharp weapons this way and that speaks to the eighties gorehound in us all.

Ripe for a Remake

It won’t rewire anyone’s philosophy, but you can certainly mold Girls School Screamers into some house-flipping horror banger that plays on tropes in a way that doesn’t seem for rote.


No progeny to report.

Where to Watch

Vinegar Syndrome released a limited edition slipcover Blu-Ray of Girls School Screamers, designed by Earl Kess, which is still available. It features a new 2k scan from the original 35mm negative with new commentary tracks and a making-of documentary with filmmaker John P. Finnegan. If you check that site with the endless pit of uploaded videos, I’m sure you can find it.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 2

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