• Return To Horror High

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: May 29th, 2017.
    Director: Bill Froehlich
    Cast: Lori Lethin, Brendan Hughes, Alex Rocco, George Clooney, Scott Jacoby, Andy Romano, Marueen McCormick
    Year: 1987
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    The Movie:

    Arthur Lyman (Richard Brestoff) is the only survivor of a massacre. The cops arrive on the scene and question him and it turns out he’s the writer of a horror movie that was being shot in the school where the killings took place, Crippen High. It just so happens that this school was also the location where an earlier mass killing took place some years before… and that killer was never caught. As two cops question him, we see the events play out in a series of flashbacks.

    As the movie plays out, we see what happened to the cast and crew as they went about their businesses. Sleazy producer Harry Sleerik (Alex Rocco) wants everyone to pile on the sex and violence, insisting that his lead actress (Lori Lethin) expose her breasts. He’s not out to make art, he’s out to make a fast buck. Officer Tyler (Maureen McCormick of The Brady Bunch!) pokes around where she can, former professional wrestler Pepper Martin plays the chief. George Clooney shows up as a police officer. It all basically ties together in the end but to really detail all of how it does and why would be a disservice to those who haven’t seen the film. As uneven as it is at times, the movie is pretty clever.

    It also had a great tag line:

    “Killer to the left...Killer to the right...Stand up...Sit down...FRIGHT! FRIGHT! FRIGHT!”

    Some of the murder set pieces are pretty great, even if they’re not the most realistic scenes ever committed to film. Sometimes the camera pulls back and we’re in on the joke, it’s the whole movie within a movie aspect at play, but other times the camera doesn’t pull back and we realize it’s tying into the murder being investigated. The gore is fairly strong in the picture and the effects are appropriately gruesome when the movie calls for it.

    As to how everything connects to the original killing spree, the one where the killer is still at large, well, you may or may not see it coming – but it works. The movie’s plot is interesting in that it doesn’t spoon feed everything to the audience. There’s definitely some original ideas at work here. The box copy for this release points out how it pre-dates Scream, which is true, but as to how much of an influence there was on Craven’s box office smash is debatable. They’re both self-referential slasher pictures, so they have that in common.

    Return To Horror High uses the ‘movie within a movie’ idea well, exploiting it to nice effect while still managing to make some well-deserved pokes at the formulaic nature of the genre (Lethin’s character rants about misogyny at one point, which stands as a pretty clear example of what the movie is trying to say). The film places a stronger emphasis on humor than it does on horror, however, so those who require that their eighties slashers be played only with the utmost seriousness may take issue. Some of the plot twists towards the end overdo it a bit, but it’s a pretty fun ride throughout.

    The cast are fun. Alex Rocco is perfect as sleazy Sleerik. He doesn’t care about anything except money, and if his director has artistic intent that he wants to work out, too bad. Lori Lethin is pretty good as his leading lady, and Maureen McCormick, while certainly an odd casting choice for a cop, is actually pretty damn funny in her role clearly cast against type. Clooney, a big draw for some people, is only in the movie for a few minute but it’s fun to see him here.

    Oh, and some useless IMDB trivia: “Alex Rocco, Scott Jacoby and George Clooney have all appeared separately on episodes of "The Golden Girls".” The more you know.


    88 Films presents Return To Horror High in a ‘new HD widescreen transfer from the original negative’ that is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1. The picture quality here is pretty good, there’s nice detail and depth to the image and very little in the way of print damage to note. Black levels are pretty solid, color reproduction looks nice and there are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction. The image retains a natural amount of film grain, skin tones look pretty natural – yeah, this looks just peachy in HD.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language LPCM 2.0 stereo option. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No complaints here. The dialogue in the film is audible and clear throughout and the score sounds pretty solid. If any hiss pops into the mix, it’s minimal. Levels are nicely balanced and there are no problems with any distortion to note.

    Extras start off with a brand new exclusive audio commentary featuring director Bill Froehlich, writer Greg Sims and cinematographer Roy Wagner. Froehlich essentially leads the charge and has the most to say of the three participants. The mood of the track is pretty jovial, it sounds like these guys got along then and still get along now. They talk about casting the film, the locations, writing the picture, the tone that they went for right from the start with the opening credits, working with New World on the production and how much they loved the script, what some of the other cast and crew members have been up to before and since the movie was made, changes that were made to the script over the course of the production and lots more.

    Also on hand is a featurette entitled Class Dismissed with actress Lori Lethin that runs just over fourteen minutes. She talks about starting in commercials and then making the transition to low budget movies just sort of by default and how she never really thought about acting as a serious career in her younger days. She then talks about getting her start in the business, working on pictures like this one and The Prey, Bloody Birthday and more. She looks back on her career pretty fondly and tells some fun stories here.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. 88 Films has also packaged this release with some nice reversible sleeve art featuring your choice of original poster art options. Included inside the keepcase alongside the disc is a full color insert booklet containing an essay from Calum Waddell entitled High School Frights that discuss its connection to similarly themed films and its status (or lack thereof) as a ‘sequel’ to Horror High.

    The Final Word:

    88 Films gives Return To Horror High a more than respectable high definition debut. The movie itself is a lot of fun, a slasher-esque horror comedy (the emphasis is on comedy, mind you) with an interesting cast and some noteworthy murder set pieces. Lots of fun to be had with this one, and the presentation and extras on the disc are strong.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!