Cinefilles, it’s time for a camp-out! And no, we ain’t talkin’ s’mores, sing-a-longs and psycho killers. (Although, they may very well make questionable individual appearances.) We’re talking about getting in touch with your guilty pleasure zone. So join us as Emily (our resident camp connoisseur) leads you through one of the best of the worst movies of all-time. It’s gonna be awesome—and terrible!—all at the same time.
When most people think of George Clooney, they think of the silver foxy cross-generational crush he’s become, with his literal movie star good looks and generally good taste in films. They think of him strutting his gentlemanly stuff on the set of a critically-acclaimed dramedy (like the recently released The Descendants or Up in the Air), crowd-pleasing, but suave blockbuster (think the Ocean’s series) or a politically-charged agenda pic (i.e. The Ides of March). I like to think the Cloons’ unforgettable turn in the meta-slasher non-classic, Return to Horror High.
WHY IT’S TERRIBLE:
- This is the opening card. Classroom killings totally “rock.”
- The meta slasher, which follows a film crew who gets offed on the set of their new movie (the school mentioned above), goes a little too hard on the straight-faced parody, and ends up playing like a too funny Scream and or too serious Scary Movie.
- Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick) plays a cop.
- George plays an actor playing a cop.
- George dies in the first 13 minutes.
- The movie’s main parody technique is the fake-scene-within-a-scene, where you think it’s a real kill and it’s really a sequence being staged by the film’s film crew. You get what they were trying to do, but because of this there is literally no plot, which can make it super hard to follow.
- Meet the pussy-crazed janitor with the squeaky waste basket. Never seen him before …
- The DVD tagline: “School spirit has never been this dead!”
- This is a totally legit book. I mean, none of the labels look pasted on …
- Death by … quicksand? Seriously!
- When Maureen’s character comes back from investigating the school, shirt half-open and covered in blood, she grabs at her boobs like she gets off on people getting offed. And no one thinks anything of it.
- This is the mask they scared up for the killer. He looks like a paper-mache Greek chorus member.
- The sole love scene features some minimal man chest action and feet touching, cut between flashes of men outside welding and childish-looking drawings hung on the walls.
- When they walk into the ladies room to find a blood-covered toilet, our heroine asks, “What happened here?” But considering the schizophrenic writing, I nearly expected her to say, “I guess they ran out of tampons.” In fact, I kind of wish she did.
- Our hero jokes about piecing out of the finale, in which his girlfriend is getting tied up and caressed with a knife, saying “the Steelers are playing the Raiders.”
WHY IT’S AWESOME:
- There is no Horror High from which this film could be returning to.
- The title card.
- This is one of the first in the self-referential stream of the genre, and thus, is partially responsible for Scream and the first Scary Movie existing.
- Have you ever seen more perfect credits?
- The original tagline, meant to be sung in a cheerleader voice: “Killer to the left. Killer to the right. Stand up. Sit down. Fright! Fright! Fright!”
- George plays an actor playing a cop. Named Oliver. Who has to leave the set to do a TV show (!) … but never makes it because he gets offed after investigating mysterious noises on his way to the parking lot.
- The the first line after George/Oliver’s death, spoken by the producer (Alex Rocco): “Oliver’s gone on to better things … “
- This quality exchange between the head detective and McCormick. When he asks how many bodies there are she says, “Six or seven, maybe eight?” “Can’t you count!?” he asks. “Well, they’re not all together sir .. “
- In one scene Maureen talks to the movie’s writer, and only supposed survivor of the movie’s supposed massacre, by a tree and doesn’t say boo about the bloody sheet-covered body propped up next to them. Even when it falls over.
- It features a semi-astute commentary on the horror industry then and now, not-so-cleverly masked via an ongoing struggle between the director, who is looking to do serious psychological damage, and the producer, whose favourite letters are T & A.
- Maureen describes the intestines of a victim, which appear to have gotten on her uniform, while chowing down on a giant hot dog.
- The writer on the main scene of the crimes, the biology lab, also the setting for all his scenes that ended up on the, ahem, cutting room floor: “My stuff was BUTCHERED!”
- Overheard during the producer’s phone interview with a movie magazine: “No, this movie is nothing like Babysitter Massacre … “
- Meanwhile in the background …
- “Why does everyone want to go into a deep dark basement without a flashlight!?”
- The “climax” features a bunch of skeletons … in identical drag!
- The “climax” also featuresa Scooby Doo-style mask reveal. The janitor wasn’t a janitor after all! He was the principal in disguise. And he was the killer! Or was he?
- After he is revealed, the principal/janitor/killer looks sorta like a hobo Christoph Waltz.
- At one point, a character actually says, “Fixing this script would be like polishing a turd!”