‘School spirit has never been this dead’
Return to Horror High is a 1986 [released 9 January 1987] American comedy/horror feature film directed by Bill Froehlich (Freddy’s Nightmares) from a screenplay co-written with Mark Lisson (Bones), Dana Escalante and Greg H. Sims. It is not a sequel to the 1974 movie Horror High.
The film stars Lori Lethin, Brendan Hughes, Alex Rocco (Lady in White; The Entity) and Scott Jacoby (To Die For and sequel; Bad Ronald). Also appearing, in an early role, is George Clooney (From Dusk Till Dawn; Grizzly II: The Predator; Return of the Killer Tomatoes).
In 1982, the southern California town of Crippen was rocked by a series of murders at the local high school. The killer was never apprehended.
Several years later, Cosmic Pictures, headed by sleazy producer Harry Sleerik (Alex Rocco), has come to Crippen to make a movie about the murders, setting up shop in the high school.
However, it seems the killer is still there, and as crew and cast members disappear left and right, it’s up to ex-student/cop/leading man Steven Blake (Brendan Hughes) and leading lady Callie Cassidy (Lori Lethin) to investigate…
“Despite an incoherent spine, the film rarely bores and it’s fairly well acted in a campy way. There’s one really gruesome murder that involves a guy being nailed to a desk and dissected (Vince Edwards no less) and you have to appreciate the irony of a Biology teacher getting cut open that way. The loon has a great mask/cape disguise and there’s a decent score here too.” Luisito Joaquín González, A Slash Above
“It’s a 60 minute movie stretched to 94 minutes. There are some fun Hollywood clichés that are satirized, but how many times do we have see the trouble writer getting his work taken away from him, the pretentious arty-farty director and the greedy, titty obsessed shyster producer? We get it.” Quint, Ain’t It Cool News
“It’s poorly done, ineptly plotted and never interesting. Lethin, McCormick and Jacoby should have been better served.” The Terror Trap
“The innumerable twists and turns of the plot, combined with several shifts in time and perspective, wind up more confusing than intriguing, and most of the humor is purely (pardon the pun) sophomoric. Some of the “in” jokes about the industry in general and horror films in particular are good for a few laughs.” TV Guide
“The story is infinitely confusing, and I really don’t think it’s meant to be understandable. And not in a David Lynchian way either, in a low budget, we gotta ship a movie kind of way. The kills aren’t anything too great, and for the most part we get quick edits, sounds, shadows and our imagination to horrify us…” Matt Fuerst, Jackass Critics
“Alex Rocco has a few funny moments as a sleazy producer but this is a series of juvenile, unscary gore gags with mediocre characters.” John Stanley, Creature Features
Josh Forbes: “Harry, there will be no exploding tit shot!”
Josh Forbes: “We are making a movie. All other life ceases to exist. There is only… the next scene!”
Cast and characters:
- Lori Lethin as Callie Cassidy/Sarah Walker/Susan
- Brendan Hughes as Steven Blake
- Alex Rocco as Harry Sleerik
- Scott Jacoby as Josh Forbes
- Richard Brestoff as Arthur Lyman Kastleman
- Andy Romano as Principal Kastleman
- Al Fann as Amos
- Pepper Martin as Chief Deyner
- Maureen McCormick as Officer Tyler
- Vince Edwards as Richard Birnbaum
- Michael Eric Kramer as Donny Porter
- George Clooney as Oliver
- Cliff Emmich as Dillon
- Panchito Gómez as Choo Choo
- Marvin J. McIntyre as Robbie Rice
- Philip McKeon as Richard Farley
- Remy O’Neill as Esther Molvania
- John Besmehn as Templeton Smithee
- Darcy DeMoss as Sheri Haines
- Will Etra as Mangles Face / Hatchet Face
UK: On 29 May 2017, the film is released on Blu-ray and DVD by 88 Films.
USA: The film was given a limited release theatrically by New World Pictures on 9 January 1987. It grossed $1,189,709 at the box office. The film was initially released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2002. Image Entertainment issued the film on DVD on September 6, 2011 and then again on February 7, 2012 as a double-bill with Return of the Killer Tomatoes, which also features George Clooney.