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October horror movie marathon: Return to Horror High

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Before you delve into this review, be sure to take a look at the rest of the Halloween marathon

Day 4: Return to Horror High

By the time 1987 rolled around, the slasher movie was hardly anything new. Much like basically any Shakespeare play –  it had been done to death. Doing anything new with the genre was becoming increasingly difficult but Return to Horror High had something no one else had: George Clooney.

Just like everybody else, the two-time winner of People’s Magazine’s ‘sexiest man alive’ award had to start somewhere.

Whereas stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Anniston began their careers in horror movies like Critters 3 and Leprechaun, George Clooney found himself in Return to Horror High early on in his career.

Looking back at Clooney’s early career is almost funny, seeing just how far he’s come, but also seeing how his career could have taken a very different turn. Starring in movies such as Grizzly II: The Predator, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, and this. Clooney becoming known as a schlock horror actor was not as far off as some might think.

Thankfully for this movie, Clooney’s career did go somewhere, which meant that they could plaster his name all over home media releases to make a couple extra bucks.

The fact that the film’s tiniest shred of infamy comes from George Clooney having a ten-minute role is an awful shame as it genuinely did something inventive with the genre and made a damn good film too.

Return to Horror High follows a crew of filmmakers shooting a movie in Crippen High School, based on a series of real-life, unsolved, murders that happened within the school. The general idea of a movie shooting the same place of a heinous crime always seems like a good idea that should work, but it very rarely does, with Return to Horror High being an exception. 

Director Bill Froehlich shows extreme promise throughout, balancing flashbacks, dream sequences, shooting scenes and the main story very well – often seamlessly. His writing of the script also shows great writing ability. While the film does go a little haywire within the final ten minutes with it’s ridiculous triple twist climax, the rest of the film is genuine brilliance.

A lot of the characters have very little to them, but many are great to watch; the dirty producer who continually pushes for schlock, the artistic director who must fight back for his art (There will be no exploding tit shot!), and the writer who would kill to have one of his scenes used. Each character tends to have one running gag each, but they’re so entertaining in the background of the movie, it doesn’t disturb the audience too much. 

The kills are extremely weak for a horror movie, especially one made in the late 80s when horrors had to get more and more creative to satisfy fans. However, there are one or two good ones in there, most notably a scene reminiscent of dissecting a frog.

Return to Horror High has really been lost under the massive heap of horror movies, both good and bad, that have come after it, but it does deserve revisiting. 88 movies released it under their ‘Slasher Classics Collection’ which will no doubt have grown its fanbase into a respectable cult following but it deserves every horror fan’s time and attention. Ultimately it serves as a sad reminder that not even the best get noticed sometimes. 

Rating = 4/5 flicks

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