Class Reunion Massacre (1978)

Bizarro slasher or Christian scare film? Wait. Don’t run away! If I’m going to get to the bottom of this, I’ll need all the help I can get.

This is a uniquely strange slasher. It’s creepy, unsettling, and places all bets on the mysterious side of things. For a majority of the running time, I had no idea what was going on. Why did that kid just rise out of the water? Does that guy have two thumbs? Are the filmmakers really trying to say that if you’re a dirty sinner, Satan will send “The Redeemer” from the depths of the California desert to even the score? Or was it just an easy set-up for a slasher? Judging from the year and seriousness on display, I’d probably go with the former.

After a truly baffling prologue involving the kid who rises out of the water, a sermon, and the murder of a janitor, the synths kick in and the scene is set.  Six former high-schoolers are introduced through presentback (you know, like a flashback, but now). We’ve got a heartless lawyer, a drunk lady, an ex-quarterback douchebag, a rich snob, a gay actor, and a friendly lesbian. All total sinners, right?! Anyway, the group arrives at their high school reunion, only to find that they’re the only ones invited. Ignoring the red flags, they partake of the catering and live it up. That is, until they discover that all of the doors have been locked. From the outside. Soon enough, bible-quoting killer picks off our cast one by one while utilizing a variety of disguises (grim reaper, clown, giant doll). After the carnage, the film wraps up just where it started, only with an on-screen quote from the Bible to help us out.

As a straight horror film, Class Reunion Massacre succeeds. It’s light on gore, heavy on gruesome and effective killings, and filled with creative photography. The killer actually scared me. Twice. Most successful is the mystery factor — nothing is explained and events continue to grow more bizarre as each minute passes. The tone is uncomfortable, especially with the killer’s numerous costumes and voice changes. Naturally, when you add the religious subtext to all of this, things get even stranger. I find it a little far-fetched to buy into the idea of selling anything through the “art” of trash-horror, but whatever. Just the idea of someone trying to explore their beliefs on Christianity through the use of “The Redeemer” is hilarious. And kind of scary.

Belying its exploitive title, Class Reunion Massacre turned out to be frightening and bizarre. The uniqueness shines through, especially after I figured out what was going on. This is a must own.

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