Spooky Terrible Netflix Picks: “Return to Horror High”

RETURN TO HORROR HIGH (1987)   ★☆☆☆

Photo via impawards.com
Photo via impawards.com

A character in the movie said it best: “Why does everybody always want to go into a dark basement without a flashlight?” That is the million-dollar question. “Return to Horror High” is the definition of a B-movie. It consists of nothing more than a low budget, a ridiculous script and horrendous acting.

The film, directed by Bill Froehlich, takes place at a high school five years after an infamous series of murders occur at the same location. One of the opening shots reveals a team of filmmakers lying dead on the high school lawn as we see ambulances, police cars and police officers questioning a survivor of the film crew.

Through his accounts, the movie flashes back to the days prior to explain how the filmcrew winds up in body bags. The crew initially decides to make a movie on-location depicting the murders based on the police reports from five years ago, but they end up dead themselves. So, yes:  it is a movie about people investigating the murders of people making a movie portraying murders. Very confusing.

We first get a glimpse from what appears to be a few days earlier as filming is about to begin. All runs smoothly throughout the production until cast and crew members mysteriously start “disappearing” from the set.

It takes an incredibly long time for anybody on set to realize others are missing. Little do the cast and crew know that the original murderer from five years ago is still on the loose in the high school halls. Production members start dropping like flies as they fall victim to the killer.

The first to go is a young George Clooney playing a character with a minuscule role. It is a shame the character dies off so quickly, considering Clooney delivers the best performance of any actor in the film by a long-shot.

The murderer lurks the halls of the set and appears to strike down cast and crew members one by one. That goes on for about 90 percent of the film, thus making the plot rather predictable and dreadfully boring. The movie ends with a surprising twist, but even this doesn’t save the film’s already deteriorated credibility.

“Return to Horror High” was created with an extremely low budget. The film could not afford the widescreen ratio and the quality of acting is not exactly of high cost either. The picture’s acting consists of cheaply unconvincing dialogue between lackluster characters with no chemistry. The script gives the film’s leading actress (Lori Lethin) an unnecessary sex scene, and even that is hardly convincing.

It is difficult to blame the actors all that much because the script did not really give them much to work with. “Return to Horror High’s”

screenplay belongs more in a modern video game than it does in a film. Lines are weak and the story is even weaker. A plot that tries to get too clever with itself ends up twisted and garbled, creating a very confusing movie. Characterization is terrible, there is no audience-to-character chemistry, and quite frankly, there is no emotional effect when we see a character get killed.

That brings us to the next point. The special effects, given that this picture was released in 1987 after the George Lucas breakthrough, are horrendous. Murder scenes come across as comedy. Particularly laugh-worthy are the two beheading scenes depicted on screen.

Along with the poor visuals come even worse sound effects. The sound effects are cheap and extremely distracting. Whenever there is blood in the room, the ambient noise becomes filled with slushing noises that were inserted at way too high a volume. The audio is all-around muffled and the additions of low-end sound effects and an obnoxious synthesized musical score honestly make the picture worse.

Do yourselves a favor by not watching “Return to Horror High” this Halloween. Devote the extra 95 minutes to something more enjoyable. The only way enjoyment comes out of this movie is if a large group of people watch it together. Laughs are guaranteed, but the movie’s plot holes and predictability make it a bore.

Sometimes we watch films that are so terrible that they are good. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. Any viewer will find themselves scratching their head after the movie ends. Quite honestly, the best part of this picture came when the final credits began to role.