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Friday 22 November 2019

Burl reviews Return to Horror High! (1987)

Hello friends and good neighbours! It’s Burl, here to review a tricky little picture, Return to Horror High! Ha ha, it’s another movie about the business of illusion and the fuzzy line between appearance and reality, just like its model, The Stunt Man! Somehow they forgot to cast Steve Railsback as the maniacal director, ha ha, but they did get Alex Rocco, who of course was in The Stunt Man, as well as Herbie Goes Bananas, Stick and Gotcha, to play the role of the crude and mercenary producer!
Rocco and his crew are making a movie about the true events surrounding a high school massacre from five years earlier, and doing so on the actual location in which the killings happened! (This, of course, is the same premise of The House of Seven Corpses!) Naturally the killer returns, or seems to have returned: in fact, anything that happens in the movie must be said only to seem to have happened, because frequently, what we assume to either flashbacks to the original carnage or else a new on-set murder, turns out instead to be a scene being filmed for Rocco’s movie!
Ha ha, so there are plenty of fake-outs, enough so that, even having just watched the picture, I can’t remember what the upshot was! I do know there’s a scene that recalls the end of Sweet Movie, in which sheet-covered bodies sit up en masse, and also a rubber mask is involved at some point, just like in Hell Squad! And there are plenty of scenes involving confusions between real body parts and the work of the movie-within-the-movie trick makeup effects man! Ha ha, he’s played by Marvin J. McIntyre, who was the parachute instructor in Fandango, and who should have had a much bigger character comedy actor career than he did!
In fact, across the board there’s a decent cast of familiar and half-familiar faces! Lori Lethin from The Prey plays the main actress recreating the murders, and Scott Jacoby from The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane and The Supernaturals is in there too, and there are old ringers like Andy Romano from Beach Blanket Bingo and Drop Zone as the principal; Vince Edwards from Murder By Contract, now on the other side of the law as the investigating detective; Richard Brestoff from Fastbreak playing somebody or other; Al Fann from Parasite playing a janitor with a secret or two, ha ha, and Marcia from The Brady Bunch as a chowhound cop who seems to enjoy the carnage at the curiously underpopulated crime scene! And, ha ha, we get George Clooney, well known from The Descendants, as a big-headed actor who is the first victim!
Even if it steals most of its tricks from another movie, it’s nice to see a horror picture that attempts something a little headier, a little different! (That’s my feeling about Wes Craven’s New Nightmare as well, ha ha!) It’s competently made, with decent 80s horror cinematography from Roy H. Wagner, who brought the same to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3! It could be a bit peppier, a bit scarier, a bit more sharply directed, but it’s got some clever lines and funny performances, and at least it tries! I give Return to Horror High two unsafe industrial fans!

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