Return to Horror High (1987)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film  |   Release Date - Jan 9, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Fred Beldin

Any film that features George Clooney's blood seeping out from underneath a door in the first ten minutes has got to have something going for itself, and against all odds, Return to Horror High does indeed. By 1987 the slasher genre had run its course, aside from a few stragglers, and the teenage body count films were ripe for parody. Most combinations of horror and humor fail at both, and though the comedy is very broad, this hybrid doesn't forget to aim for shocks and connects more often than should be expected. Several of the murder set pieces are visually unique (the deadly sandbox and a biology teacher's dissection in particular), and since the jokes are all at the expense of the low-budget film industry, Return to Horror High plays like an underachieving precursor to the Scream series without as much self-satisfied post-modernism. The appearance of a pre-stardom Clooney is merely serendipity, but the stunt casting of Maureen McCormick (Marcia from The Brady Bunch) as a policewoman with a gore fetish is meant to play off her image, and she takes full advantage. Though he could easily sleepwalk through the role, Alex Rocco also appears to have fun as a crusty, morally challenged movie producer. The rest of the cast is a faceless assortment of newcomers and genre vets (like any true splatter flick), so director Bill Froehlich runs them through a maze of a story that makes less and less sense as it proceeds, and absolutely none when it's all "explained" at the end. Nevertheless, horror fans who aren't looking for anything too serious might have fun with the gruesome effects, kaleidoscopic shifts of reality and tone, and broad parody.