Retro Film Report #21: Return to Horror High

Return to Horror High (1987), oddly enough, is not a sequel.  It's sort of in the vein of Scream and National Lampoon's Class Reunion in that it's a parody of the slasher genre which tries to incorporate all the tropes alternating between comedy and scares.

While it's not totally without redeeming value, it's neither funny nor scary. Plus, the parody aspect gets lost in a very convoluted poorly edited storyline.  It's currently available on Netflix Instant, so it may be worth a watch - just know what you're getting into.

The movie is probably best known for starring George Clooney.  Although, "starring" is a strong word considering he's only in the first ten minutes of the film before his summarily "offed" in teen-slasher-film fashion.

I find it kind of interesting that Clooney plays an actor who is leaving the set of this crappy B-movie to move on to bigger and better things.... which is precisely what he really did.

click here to view uncensored pic
Return to Horror High is a story about a low budget movie about a "true story" of a mysterious killer filmed on location at the site of his/her grisly murders - Crippen High School. As you might expect, various cast and crew get taken out by the killer one-by-one.

To use an overused term - this film is overtly "meta".  It constantly bounces back and forth between (1) the present crime scene (3) the prior filming at the school, and (3) scenes from the filming which are supposed to reenact true events.... if that makes any sense whatsoever.    It could have been a genuinely clever film if the execution hadn't been so lousy.

Of course, it also has Maureen McCormick, the only reason I even attempted to watch this film in the first place.  Sadly, her scenes are all too short.... and I never quite got what her character was about.  She's a police officer processing the crime scene, but she seems highly unstable.  I know Marcia Brady took a liking to the white powder back in '86, so maybe that explains some of her character's curious behavior.

It also has Philip McKeon - the son on "Alice" and real life brother of Jo on "The Facts of Life". He plays the William Zabka-esque douche. In one disturbing scene he attempts to rape a girl.  It wasn't particularly graphic, just really uncomfortable seeing ol' Philip all sweaty, horny with that crazed look in his eyes.

Raping aside, you'll note that he's carting off a naked chick in the image above. Return to Horror High delivers three gratuitous nude scenes - no more, no less.

Click here to view uncensored pic

It does a fairly good job of covering all the well-worn slasher film cliches. The girls' locker room was an oft-visited locale in eighties films and Return to Horror High delivers this scene with aplomb.

Another slasher-film trope is the Final Girl, perhaps the most important in the entire genre's template.  She's the virginal heroine, the lone survivor whose slutty friends keep getting killed for their 'sins'.

Lori Lethan plays the Final Girl of the film.... actually, she plays the Final Girl and an actress playing a Final Girl.  I told you the film was "meta".  Lori was in the pilot episode of Matlock and appeared in The Prey and Bloody Birthday.... then she dropped off the face of the earth.  Rumor has it that she got a clinical psychology degree and helps drug addicts in North Hollywood.  Not sure how true that is, but it sure sounds reasonable.

You'll recognize Alex Rocco (image above) who's been in more films and television shows than I care to list - everything from The Godfather to Get Smart.  He became known for always playing a sleazeball; and he's perfectly cast here as a slimy lecherous producer.

Another rumor is Rocco was an actual member of a Boston gang before he became an actor, and actually was involved in a murder that he was never prosecuted for.  It was on the Internet so it must be true, right?



  1. I love good cinema!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Me too. This movie definitely ain't that. But me too.

  2. I just checked, it's available on Netflix.

  3. Can you say 6 Degrees of Facts of Life? Alex Rocco played Philip McKeon's sister Nancy's character's dad on Facts, which also starred (for a time), George Clooney. SPOOKY.

  4. The uncensored pics was not bad at all.

  5. Is this the one with Tommy Smothers as the Mountie who is in love with his horse,
    or am I thinking of another slasher parody?

  6. It was Pandemonium. Carol Kane was in it, along with Judge Reinhold and Phil Hartman.

  7. Alex Rocco was in "The Friends of Eddie Coyle", one of the great films of the 70s.

  8. The rumors are true...Rocco, under his real name Alexander Petricone, Jr. was on the fringes of the Boston mob scene, and was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a man whose brother made advances on Petricone's girlfriend. He was never charged, and released--at that point he made the decision to leave Beantown for Los Angeles, where he got into acting (with help from Boston native Leonard Nimoy).

  9. Very exclusive photo and article thanks for sharing.hgh

  10. I rented this movie from a Mac's Milk Convenience Mart when it was fresh out on VHS. "Adults Only"!