Five years ago there was a terrible series of murders committed at Crippen High, and now a film crew has descended to shoot a film designed to cash in on the notoriety. This is not a major budget movie, and the wishes of the much-put-upon screenwriter Arthur (Richard Brestoff) conflict with the exploitative wishes of the producer (Alex Rocco), to the extent that his rewrites to make the production more "psychological" are crumpled up in front of him because there's not enough blood and nudity in the material he is coming up with. But this project was destined to end in yet more grisly tragedy...
The heyday of the slasher movie craze is generally thought of as the late seventies and early eighties, but that's not to say that they were not still being made later on; obviously there was a resurrection in the genre when Scream became the blockbuster it was in the late nineties, but in the meantime there were the likes of this forgotten effort which was already trying to subvert all those clichés that fans had been so familiar with and to an extent were still being employed in the sequel factories of the day. Nevertheless, for being so forward thinking Return to Horror High, not a follow up to Horror High, has garnered a minor appreciation.
Unfortunately there was a film which plays around with what by then were hoary old conventions, and it had been released during the glory days: it was Student Bodies and was a hell of a lot funnier than this. Here it's a case of nice idea, pity about the execution (if you'll pardon the pun), as there were some very intriguing notions of messing about with the audience's expectations buried in the script, yet it was as if the producer character from the film was actually behind the scenes as well, sabotaging the good intentions with orders to keep things as trashy as possible, with the consequence that too often the film is pulling in two directions at once rather than being a neat mix.
Our hero and heroine are two of the actors from the film within a film, the hero being Officer Steven Blake (Brendan Hughes), a policeman who was involved with investigating the original crime and is recruited for the production when their leading man, playing Blake, gets a better offer. That leading man was played by George Clooney, and his fans will be let down to see him appear for a mere ten minutes screen time before becoming one of the first of the new batch of victims, not that anyone notices he has gone. The heroine is the leading lady (Lori Lethin) who has three different names in the film depending on which role she is in, making it difficult to keep track of her, with only a selection of wigs helping.
This duo fall in love and turn detective when it seems as though people are being killed again, a fact we already are well aware of because the film scenes are supposed to be flashbacks with the here and now depicted by sequences with the cops who find their cut up bodies. Maureen McCormick from The Brady Bunch appears as a policewoman in these bits, and in one of a few running jokes that are more weird than funny she appears more and more dishevelled the longer the movie goes on. If you can keep track of whereabouts in the story you are, the writers do their darnedest to scupper your chances of having it all sorted out by the end, with not one but two finales, one your usual unmasking of the baddie, the other a revelation that makes no dramatic sense, and not really any comedic sense either. Such potential wasted, although fans may wish to note the killer's costume is suspiciously Scream-like. Music by Stacy Widelitz.