Director – Bill Froehlich
Cast – Richard Brestoff, George Clooney, Vince Edwards, Al Fann, Panchito Gomez, Brendan Hughes, Scott Jacoby, Michael Eric Kramer, Lori Lethin, Pepper Martin, Maureen McCormick, Marvin J. McIntyre
Release Year – 1987
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have read nothing but bad things about Return to Horror High over the years, but I needed my slasher fix and thought to myself, “Maybe the film doesn’t suck, maybe everyone else sucks. “, and it seems that was the case. Sure the budget is low and this is not award-worthy in any way, but in the end I was given a fun slasher experience with plenty of kills that also came with creative story elements that I never expected to see in such a film.
Several years after a serial-killer (who was never caught) ran amok and butchered students at Crippen High School a film crew employed by Cosmic Pictures sets up shop to film a horror movie about the killings at the very place the killings occurred – a move they see as genius marketing. Of course, soon after filming begins the crew begins suffering heinous deaths at the hands of an unseen killer, showing that history does in fact repeat itself from time to time.
So this is not only time I’ve seen a group of unsuspecting individuals finding themselves being hacked up after returning to the creepy scene of a crime, but it was the first (and so far only) one where they were aiming to film a fictional tale based on the events, a tactic that only added to the fun. Four different writers contributed to this piece, so you would think that the story would be a muddle mess of ideas right? Well, that was not the case. The storyline is one that is simple overall but in fact provided much more than I expected, coming from a genius tactic in which for most of the film we are unaware if the kills we are seeing are part of the movie being filmed or are part of the…movie? Exactly. The idea is awesome and it made for a lot of fun when we come across the revelation that the character was in fact dead / not dead in real life, and in pretty fun fashion as well. We get a slew of characters thrown into the mix, which you should know tends to equal more kill scenes, and the kills written into the film were fun and reminiscent of the usual 80s kills that we love to watch. All of this ultimately boils down to an awesome climax that I honestly never saw coming, capping off an awesome and well-written experience that kept throwing me for a loop and kept me engaged throughout.
Co-writer Bill Froehlich did a great job executing this film, employing great atmosphere and awesome sets that set the tone for the sweet events that would ensue throughout this piece. He provides a lot of fun direction of the sequences aimed at throwing the viewer off guard, and rightfully so he also gave us great direction of the horror as well. The kills were fun and came with a fair amount of gore and severed body parts, and the look of the killer (in his mask) was incredible and pretty damn spooky if you ask me. The acting performances were so-so, with some actors outshining others, and on top of that we get a young George Clooney in a small role that should have lasted longer. Of course, despite his small role he still appears at the top of the acting credits. I really do not get the amount of hate and low ratings the film has garnered over time. Return to Horror High brings forth everything that was/is fun about the slasher sub-gene, and on top of that also throws in some very cool plot twists that mess with the viewer and make this and even more fun film than it already is, making for one truly under-appreciated and underrated horror film.
Overall, Return to Horror High is a fun and cheesy low-budget slasher film that despite critical backlash from others is a downright enjoyable flick that I recommend to fans of the slasher sub-genre.