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Film / Return to Horror High

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A 1987 Horror film, directed and co-written by Bill Froehlich, that's tremendously self-aware and very solidly a B-Movie. But it was George Clooney's film debut as well as Philip McKeon's film debut.

In 1982, a series of murders happened at Crippen High School and the killer was never caught. Five years later, sleazy movie producer Harry Sleerik (Alex Rocco) has decided to film a horror movie at the site of the school. As filming goes underway, the actors start disappearing... Is it the sole survivor of the original massacre who's returned as the film's screenwriter? The principal of the school, who insists on playing the same role in the movie? The creepy school janitor? The former high school jock playing the leading man?


This film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Clown Car Base: An understated version where, in the background of a scene, a dozen crew members and actors emerge from a single bathroom stall.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The janitor, Amos is suddenly unmasked to reveal Principal Kastleman.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Or better, dream within a movie (within the "real" movie).
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the final bit of end credits, there's the squeaky sound of the janitor's mop bucket.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Subverted. There's a good chance the film crew had discovered the corpse-filled classroom and used the movie as a way to draw out the real killer, the principal, and expose him to the police.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: The director and producer want the film to be as gratuitous and bloody as possible in order to make money. The lead actress is offended by this mindset and gets pissed when they talk about making her boobs more visible during a rape/murder scene.
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  • Karmic Death: The biology teacher gets dissected.
  • Mind Screw: The movie routinely mixes actual scenes with scenes where the camera cuts back to show it's part of the movie they're filming. And in the end, the film crew faked almost all of it.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The female cop has a thing for blood. There's also the fact that she's seen eating and drinking while on duty, even though it's implied she was handling what might have been real human organs.
  • Off with His Head!: Done in shadow form. Later, some of the heads appear for a later scene.
  • Police Are Useless: At figuring out just what the hell happened. Then again, so were the viewers.
  • Polish the Turd: The screenwriter for the film says this, word by word, about the screenplay.
  • Spiritual Successor: Scream (1996) can be considered one to this film, despite it being a B-list movie. It is about the dramatization of "actual" events, with the director demanding more blood and Fanservice, lines about getting naked in horror films being degrading to an actress... As the description says, it's very self-aware despite (or because of) not being very good. Oh, and the killer's costume looks very similar to Ghostface.
  • Story Within a Story: The reason the film crew turned out to be alive was because none of them had actually been killed. The film they were making wasn't about the Crippen High murders, it was about a film crew trying to produce a horror picture in an abandoned high school and being picked off one by one. All of the deaths were actually being staged and filmed, as well as when the police were trying to put together all the "dead bodies."
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-universe, an actress asks why they have to show her character getting raped and why her breasts need to be shown while it's happening, explaining how damaging stuff like this can be to women in real life.
  • White Mask of Doom: The Crippen High killer.