A substitute Spanish teacher in the public school system in Columbus, Ohio, is currently on trial facing actual criminal charges because she showed a totally inappropriate movie to students in five classes.
The sub in the soup is Sheila Kearns, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
Kearns, 58, showed “The ABCs of Death” to students at East High School ranging in age from 14 to 18 throughout the day on April 11, 2013, according to state prosecutor Kacey Chappelear.
The movie is a 2012 anthology of gross-out horror, comedy horror, scary horror and other kinds of horror.
The flick’s shtick is that it is 26 short films — one for each letter of the alphabet and each one addressing a different way to die. Each segment is named for a letter. For example, “S is for Speed” and “B is for Bigfoot.” (“F is for Fart.”) An international array of horror directors collaborated on the 26 short segments.
While “The ABCs of Death” is officially not rated, it’s grisly, disturbing and filled with sex, according to the parental guide at IMDb. A woman slices a guy into pieces with a chainsaw, for example. A clown decapitates another clown. A woman carves herself up because she wants to be a perfect shape. A claymation toilet gobbles up a man and a woman. Naked women are many. Three Japanese men appear stark naked.
Kearns was busted when an assistant principal visited her classroom while the movie was playing. The assistant principal claims Kearns then attempted to fast-forward the film. That didn’t work, though. Instead, the movie froze “with bare female breasts on the screen,” the prosecutor said.
The teacher is now on trial in Franklin County Common Pleas Court and facing five felony counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles (presumably one count for each class period in which she showed the flick).
The attorney representing Kearns, Geoffrey Oglesby, told her criminal jury that Kearns showed “The ABCs of Death” without fully appreciating its graphic horror nature.
“It was a mistake that the state wants to turn into a crime” he told jury members.
Oglesby observed that substitute teaching in American high schools is a thankless, lousy job.
Kearns was a long-term substitute in several Spanish classes despite the fact that she does not speak a lick of Spanish. She was showing videos to try to get herself and her students through the day “in an act of glorified babysitting,” the attorney told jurors.
Oglesby also argued that Kearns thought the movie was in Spanish and had no idea that it is a disturbing horror movie because she wasn’t paying attention to it. Also, she did not preview the movie before showing it.
The language argument is not completely without merit. The languages included in “The ABCs of Death” are English, Spanish, Japanese and Thai.
Each of the charges against Kearns carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and a year in prison. However, there is a presumption of probation, according to the Dispatch.
At Rotten Tomatoes, “The ABCs of Death” receives a fresh rating of just 35 percent. “It’s a feast for fans of the genre and a guaranteed ordeal for everyone else,” summarizes one critic.
At Amazon, “The ABCs of Death” receives a collective rating of two-and-a-half stars.
A five-star reviewer bills the film as both oscillating between “cheesy camp comedy” and “brutal gore.”
One-star reviewers describe the film as “simply awful” and “like watching 26 bad movies in a row.”
Over 42 percent of all the Amazon reviews (63 out of 148) are of the one-star variety.