CLASS REUNION MASSACRE (US video release- 'Continental Video'
1 star

"No More Pencils, No More Books; No More Students..."

directed by: Constantine S. Gochis
starring: T.G. Finkbinder, Damien Knight, Nick Carter, Jeanetta Arnette

(back of video blurb):

       " Six former members of a High School 'clique' are surprised to find the school locked and deserted on the night of their ten-year class reunion. Through a series of flashbacks, the six are introduced: John, the lawyer more interested in money than justice; Cindy the promiscious beauty; Terry, the glutton; Jane, who has killed for pleasure; Roger, the conceited actor; and Kristen, the lesbian.

       Concerned that they are the victims of a joke, or a mistake, they are hesitant to enter the building when the caretaker invites them in. This strange, eerie man THE REDEEMER- UK video retitle for CLASS REUNION MASSACREsays he knows nothing about the class reunion, but directs them to the gymnasium where a spectacular banquet awaits them. John feels uneasy about the situation and decides to call the authorities for some answers.

       His suspicions turn to panic when the phone goes dead and they find themselves inescapably locked in the building! A frantic effort to escape begins when they realize that the care-taker is actually a murderous imposter, possessed by an evil spirit, and determined to kill them all!

       One by one the students are stalked and attacked by the mysterious killer, in methods of terrifying supense and gruesome detail. The party is over as this is the night scheduled for a Class Reunion Massacre! A terrifying film you won't want to miss!"

choice dialogue:

"...The road to Sodom is the road to EVIL and utter damnation!"

slash with panache?

       CLASS REUNION MASSACRE is one hell of a strange movie. Sometimes genuinely creepy, with an ethereal, nightmarish quality akin in places to the vampire movies of Jean Rollin. Unfortunately, it is well and truly sunk by a flaw bigger than the San Andreas fault...

       The movie starts, as it means to go on, slightly off-kilter.... A static shot of a motionless lake. The credits roll, accompanied by celestial music, the same shot continues for such a long time that I was wondering whether I was watching one of Perhaps she just saw the rushes?those new age relaxation tapes! The ambience is well and truly broken as the calm notes are replaced by that jarring electro synth- so beloved of 70’s horror film makers, indicating an end to peace at the lake. "From out of the darkness the hand of the Redeemer shall appear to punish those who have lived in sin..."- blazes across the screen in blood red. A hand punches through the placid water. I drew in my breath waiting for the revelation of this ‘redeemer’. And....well I knew the Devil could assume many shapes but I must admit I was a little underwhelmed, but mildly intrigued, when a dumpy kid with a fat arse and hair like a bell came strolling out of the depths. The film then shows its true non-linear nature by flying off in all directions and would make very little sense if I literally repeated what subsequently followed in the way of setting up the plot- hell it didn’t make much sense when I was watching it! The bare bones of it are that the kid ends up as a choirboy, attending a fire-and-brimstone church service complete with sweaty and rabid priest. And as he spits out righteous clap-trap we are introduced to six characters- three men and three women, a different one each time the priest shrieks the name of a sin, as they go about their daily business. The only thing they appear to have in common is their ten year high school reunion, which is due to take place the next day. Meanwhile someone has murdered the high school janitor, where the reunion The body-count due to take place, and taken a plaster cast of his face. The mysterious figure also does something that would become a staple of most dorm-slashers of later years- flicks through the year book (from 1967) and mutilates it, cutting out the pictures of the six ex-students....To cut along story short- and God knows I’ve tried! The six turn up to the reunion only to find that they are the only ones there and to, at first their bemusement and then, their mounting horror, realise they are trapped in the school. And to make matters worse someone is stalking and despatching them- one by one.....

       Whilst the basic premise of CLASS REUNION MASSACRE may seem like cliché personified, it manages to steer clear of the ‘rules’ laid out by HALLOWEEN (1978) and FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980). The reason being- it ...and the body-count is admittedly gruesome enough.was made before either of them and once again proves John Carpenter wasn’t solely responsible for the masked maniac in American cinema. And some of these earlier bodycount/slasher movies whilst still nodding to the basic plot of TEN LITTLE INDIANS and, in this case, choosing a name that would associate it with the (then) recent THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), throw in plot twists and ideas that come from way out of left field. Taking a viewer raised on 80’s (or even 90’s!) slashers off guard. And in the case of CLASS REUNION MASSACRE the idea comes from way, WAY out of left (or perhaps that should be ‘right’) field. Firstly the viewer is knocked for six by the films nightmare logic- literally it appears the film is taking place within a dream. The killer not only appears to be omnipresent but also dons a different disguise for each of his victims: clown; magician; grim reaper etc. The deaths too are tied to semi-nightmare logic- lifesize mannequins wielding swords and flame throwers. The film achieves, and more or less manages to retain, a genuinely creepy atmosphere and an overall air of doom. So far so good. Where CLASS REUNION MASSACRE shoots itself in the foot- big time, is with its warped morality. This is the kind of slasher movie you’d get if you let a latter day Torquemada loose with a 16mm cine-camera. It soon becomes apparent that the six friends are being punished for their ‘sins’. Sins described by the killer as- "GLUTTONY IN ALL THINGS ...VANITY ...HOARDENESS ...PERVERSION ...LICENTIOUSNESS ...DEBAUCHERY ...AVARICE."- (yeah I know that is *7* as in the deadly sins, and there are six potential victims but, hey, I did say that logic wasn’t this movie’s strong point!). Firstly, this throws the audience off kilter yet again- who exactly are we supposed to be rooting for? Are we supposed to empathise with the killers intentions against the guilty? If so the film maker confuses things even more by actually making the six friends some of the most likeable and believably acted victims-to-be in low budget slasher movie history. Sure they have their faults- but who doesn’t? Secondly the ‘sins’ of the six friends are the kind that only the most bigoted bible basher would have a problem with now- and even back in 1976! One of the men likes cheeseburgers a little too much, another is a lawyer who defends criminals, the other a camp actor who gets upset when food is spilled on his trousers. The women: one is (SHOCK!, HORROR!) a CLASS REUNION MASSACRE's 'shower scene'...lesbian, another has been married a few times and is a bit of a party girl and the other married for wealth and gets her kicks out of shooting live pigeons. Hardly damnation material in my book! Still, it is for these ‘sins’ they are sentenced to death by the Redeemer in ‘suitably’ harsh ways. In one particularly gratuitous scene the, really rather sweet, woman who has been labelled the floozy and embodiment of licentiousness is dragged into a shower and has her face scrubbed of all its makeup before being drowned in a hand basin. You can’t help but feel that the director was following some private, psychotic agenda. It just ends up rather depressing. And the denouement doesn’t provide any redress- it just appears to be wilful abstraction posing as enigma.

       There are some really nice touches here: good cinematography; a genuinely creepy ambience and a likeable principle cast. It’s just a shame they ended up in mean-spirited junk like this.

BODYCOUNT 8  bodycount!   female:3 / male:5
       1) Male shot through neck
       2) Male turned into a human torch with a blow torch
       3) Female has throat blasted with shotgun
       4) Male has head impaled on sword
       5) Female drowned in hand basin
       6) Male has brains blown out with gun
       7) Female hacked with sword (offscreen)
       8) Male (child) seen with throat slit

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