Wednesday 10 April 2013

Obscurity Files - Return to Horror High

Backing up the argument that you should never judge a film on the quality of its poster, let's take a look at George Clooney in Return to Horror High.

There's so much wrong with Return To Horror High that it's hard to know where to start. The title makes it sound like a sequel (there was a film called Horror High released in 1974 but it is unrelated to this), but also the sheer shoddy craftmanship of all those involved is astounding. It involves the presence of a film crew at a high school that was once the scene of an unsolved murder spree. Obviously, the killer is still on the loose, and when the cameras start rolling so do the crew members' heads.

Few come out of the film unscathed. At least George Clooney, appearing here in an early film role, (and apologies as this is a bit of a spoiler) is lucky enough to get killed off after roughly ten minutes screen time. Yeah, Hollywood leading man Gorgeous George only manages a bit part here as an actor playing a security guard in the remake of the high school massacre. In fact, I couldn't tell you who the leading man is, as there's a revolving door approach to its cast that will leave you thinking you've nodded off and woken up watching a different film.

I suppose it was all constructed in an attempt to keep you second guessing, but in a film where absolutely anyone could be the killer, it's in desperate need of someone to act as an anchor. As it stands, it's all over the place, with characters taking centre stage only to be killed off unceremoniously. This doesn't create a Psycho type scenario (where the rug gets pulled out from underneath you), but rather leaves you caring about none of the characters.

It's a shame that the film doesn't live up to any of the promise displayed with the poster. It's certainly not the best poster in the world, but does imply a certain level of wit. Sadly, there's no skull faced cheerleaders in the film and nothing as playful as the catchy tagline; "Killer to the left, Killer to the right. Stand up, Sit down. Fright! Fright! Fright!".

To be fair, it does have some creative kills (someone being swung towards a plane motor is quite nasty) and perhaps it deserves some credit for not being a generic campus horror. The plot can be best described as Scream 3 meets Day For Night, mixing Francois Truffaut expose about the rigours of filmmaking with Scream 3's failed attempts to add another metatextual layer to the franchise before collapsing in on itself. I'm sure it's in no way related, but it is interesting to note that Horror High's white faced killer bears a passing resemblance to Ghostface from the Scream franchise.

Perhaps they could have pulled it off with a higher level of filmmaking talent, but along with the ever changing cast, it appears that the crew was constantly replaced with better trained people. Seriously, the quality of the film is exponentially higher at the end of the film than it is at the beginning (where the boom mike keeps dipping into shot), almost like a student film that's been edited into its own big budget remake. Add that to a confusing chronology where the film within the film gets melded with flashbacks (and, at least on one occasion, a dream sequence) and you're left with a horror that tries to be too darn clever.

Save from obscurity? No.

1 comment:

  1. What we need is a modern day remake, with today's directors, it would come out much better. Just keep the setting at a high school, for nostalgia's sake.