The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. This weekend the Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie opens in theaters and via video-in-demand. The Rob Thomas-directed film takes us back to the seedy California town of Neptune and the 10-year Neptune High reunion — where more than a few unsettling antics took place. For many people, high school truly felt like hell on earth. In the case of pop culture’s teenage institutes of higher learning, there are plenty of sinister high schools on film and television that have made us cringe throughout the years. Here are ten of the creepiest.
Sunnydale High School, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
You have to figure that any high school built in a town that is located on a “hellmouth” is going to be bad news. Sunnydale High was the meeting ground for Buffy and friends when they schemed to beat the great Big Bad, but it was also the location of multiple deaths, otherworldly weird, and more. Don’t forget that the school was run by the dictator otherwise known as Principal Snyder, who helped cover up Sunnydale’s supernatural activities in disturbing ways.
The bizarre high school in Funky Forest
There really isn’t anything quite like Funky Forest — a fever dream of a movie that could only be born from the Japanese film industry. Defying all genres, but with a decidedly comedic feel, the 2005 cult movie is a grab bag of body horror, dancing, music, pervy imagery, aliens, and other surreal situations that are set in one of the strangest high schools we’ve ever seen. There really is no explanation for something like this.
Springwood High School, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Welcome to Springwood High, where the former janitor is a child-murdering psychopath whose face looks like burnt pizza. Disfigured killer Freddy Krueger returned from his death as a metal-clawed lunatic, attacking teens in their dreams. Even though Freddy’s days at Springwood High are long over, the sadistic, supernatural foe still visits from time to time to taunt the student body (especially Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson) with disturbing visions.
Twin Peaks High School, Twin Peaks
The quaint town of Twin Peaks was a hotbed of drugs, murder, prostitution, and darker secrets still. Corruption ran deep, and Twin Peaks High was no exception. The not-so-innocent high school kids got wrapped up in the town’s seedy goings-on, including troubled homecoming queen Laura Palmer who wound up dead.
Westerburg High School, Heathers
Every high school is made up popular cliques like the Heathers in the 1988 film of the same name. The underhanded gang of girls (Kim Walker, Lisanne Falk and Shannen Doherty) caused friction with the rest of the student population, including resident weirdo J.D. (Christian Slater). While that doesn’t seem so unusual for a group of testy teenagers, most high schools aren’t the site of murders and attempted suicides — all culminating in an explosive ending that blows the bad boy to bits and pieces.
Tromaville High School, Class of Nuke ‘Em High
All cult film fiends know to get their B-horror fix, with a surprising social commentary slant, at casa Troma. The company has been dishing up haute trash since 1974. In 1986’s Class of Nuke ‘Em High, we see the effects of a New Jersey nuclear power plant on a group of Tromaville High School students. After a bunch of kids buy some contaminated weed, they transform into a group of ultra horny, violent, superhuman mutants — particularly the menacing gang of the school known as The Cretins.
Lamab High School, Student Bodies
Before the post-modern satire of Scream, there was 1981’s Student Bodies, which poked fun at the slasher film genre during its reign of popularity. A serial killer stalks the students at Lamab High School, and we see things unfold through his eyes. He’s nicknamed “the Breather,” and teens are dispatched with a strange assortment of weapons, including a paper clip, a chalkboard eraser, and a horse-head bookend. It’s all played with hilarity, of course, but it’s creepy enough that we won’t be enrolling at Lamab High any time soon.
Bates High School, Carrie
We never want to attend a school where the bullies kill a pig, drain its blood, and dump it on the prom queen’s head. Also, we never want to attend a school named after a Hitchcock character who was a mother-loving murderer.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Harry Potter books and films
Author J.K. Rowling introduced millions of readers to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but the movies brought the British school to life. Dedicated to the teachings of magic, the towering castle tucked along the Forbidden Forest contains ghosts (including those of murdered students), lurking creatures, and the school eventually became the site of the deadly Battle of Hogwarts.
St. Bernard’s Academy, The Craft
Any school where Fairuza Balk’s troubled teen witch Nancy Downs is enrolled is one you should stay far away from. Jilted teens with unlimited power are dangerous, as seen in the 1996 cult favorite The Craft. Even the students at St. Bernard’s Academy who don’t partake in Nancy’s mojo are creeps — evidenced by racist bully Laura (Christine Taylor) and popular, misogynistic jock Chris (Skeet Ulrich).