Reunion Massacre (or, the more amusing title, Redeemer: The Son
of Satan!), I delve once again into the seedy world of 70s slasher
flicks. I can’t put my
finger on the exact
reason why I like slasher flicks from the 70s – for the most part,
they generally suck – but like ‘em I do.
The same applies to Class Reunion Massacre.
The story is simple
enough. Six former high
school chums are invited back to their alma mater for – you guessed it
– a class reunion. Each
character is introduced with a flashback associating them with some sort
of evil habit (or habits, depending on their overall level of evilness).
Terry is the arrogant former football star. He neglects his kid and isn’t very nice to his wife.
John is a lawyer with no interest in justice, just money.
Jane is a wealthy snob who spends her free time shooting pigeons
(which is evil, but rather random).
Roger is an actor. He
is both arrogant and hard to get along with (so essentially, he’s Val
Kilmer). Cindy is the
promiscuous one (at least that’s what the box says.
Sadly, the film features no sex or nudity).
She also likes to hang around bars and prattle continuously to
drunks who aren’t paying attention (I would probably categorize that
as more “annoying” than “evil”).
Finally, the worst of the bunch, Kirsten.
Kirsten is a
right. Kirsten likes women as opposed to men!
They arrive at the
party, but lo and behold, they are the sole attendees. There’s a buffet, party decorations and a dance floor, but
no one else to party, dance or eat with.
Naturally, this can only mean that these particular individuals
have been invited back to their school to be murdered for the sins of
their youth. It doesn’t
take the viewer long to figure out this little plot twist (I estimate
approximately two seconds after the title credits).
Sure enough, they are soon picked off one by one by a mysterious
chubby fellow with an affinity for bad disguises.
Who is this
mysterious man with a striking resemblance to Bruno Kirby?
Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of the genre might assume that
the killer is a former classmate who was antagonized
by the popular kids back in the day and is now looking to exact revenge
(a la Slaughter High, another guilty pleasure of mine).
That’s what I assumed, but alas, I was mistaken.
Turns out that the killer is none other than some random
omniscient preacher who feels he must deliver redemption to the
I guess it’s an
“Angel of Death” kinda thing, which certainly isn’t a
groundbreaking cinematic convention, but what I find puzzling is if the
killer’s supposed to be a bastion of good morals (that is, if you can
justify killing in the name of God), then why would he kill a hapless
janitor in the beginning? This
ethical dilemma could have been easily avoided by providing a montage
similar to those provided to the other victims.
You know, a little something to establish
what a bastard that janitor truly was. Perhaps he hated babies and killed puppies.
Maybe he was even gay!
Though the murder
of the janitor can perhaps be justified by the simple fact that the
killer is crazy, there really should have been a more solid explanation
(or any explanation, for that matter) as to why the preacher
would want to kill these six sinners in particular.
I mean, considering this film is chockfull of clichés, why not
add the distraught nerd exacting revenge on the folks who gave him one
swirly too many? If
you’re going to beat a dead horse, might as well beat it thoroughly.
The biggest “What
the hell?” moments are reserved, however, for the bookends of Class
Reunion Massacre. The
film opens on a lake nestled between two mountains.
We sit there for a moment
or two, then the sun ducks behind a cloud.
Suddenly, a defiant fist shoots up from the water and a young boy
emerges. He makes his way
to shore and hops the first school bus into town.
Like anyone who had recently emerged from the depths of a
secluded lake (and happened to find a school bus nearby), he heads
directly to church. He is
teased by a couple choirboys, then listens to the service of the
resident preacher (who, it turns out, is also the killer).
We then jump into the main story.
After all is said and done, we return to the young boy at church.
The service is over, and the preacher returns to the choirboy
locker room to discover the young lad from the lake has killed one of
his tormentors. The
preacher appears relatively unaffected, and ushers the boy back to the
bus. He returns to the
lake, and a Bible verse stating something to the effect of “bad
folks’ll be gettin’ theirs” is shown right before the credits
After doing a
little research (and I do mean a little), I discovered that Class
Reunion Massacre might have been trying to cash in on the popularity
of The Omen (which preceded it by about a couple years).
That would somewhat explain the preacher and the evil spawn of
Satan he apparently summoned. What
it doesn’t explain, however, is the mysterious double-thumb.
In the beginning,
the lad passes his double-thumb to the preacher.
At the end, the thumb returns to the lad.
Does a double-thumb having anything to do with Satan?
I mean, what the hell is a double-thumb supposed to signify?
Yeah, Damien has the powers of Lucifer, Regan can spin her head a
complete 360 degrees, but me? I
have this terrifying double-thumb!
Can you imagine the horror of my cuticles?!
So, in summation,
we have a stupid, predictable (double-thumb aside) slasher movie.
Why do I enjoy it? Well, it’s a combination of little things.
I like the overall aesthetic of the film.
Massacre is grainy and dark; there’s a general air
of creepiness. Part of this
is probably due, for the most part, to the actual integrity of the
print. I mean, the movie
itself is old, and chances are they didn’t spend a lot of cash on the
film to begin with. Movies
(that is, 35mm prints) like Star Wars and Harry Potter are
tough to tear with your bare hands (not that I tried).
Movies like Valentine and Bubble Boy, however, tear
if you breathe on them wrong. Film
quality applies to the story told, but it also applies to the actual
print itself. More often
than not, the two coincide with one another.
The dark and grainy texture is one of the main reasons Tobe
Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is brilliant.
Though Class Reunion Massacre is a far cry from genius, it
does have a creepy feel to it.
Secondly, I enjoy
the fact that the killer often taunts his victims out in the open;
sometimes close enough to touch them.
It just adds an air of suspense that is lacking in most slasher
films. He also kills in
broad daylight, which, again, is a rarity. Sometimes the victims aren’t even alone.
Does that make Class
Reunion Massacre worth going out of your way to find?
Probably not. But if you happen upon it while surfing the USA Network one
lazy Saturday afternoon, it might supply an hour and a half of brainless