Six people are invited to their high school reunion but when they get there they realize that they are the only ones there. It isn’t long before they realize that something isn’t right and before you know it a stranger (who is awful fond of disguises) locks them in the building and starts picking them off one by one. Will anyone manage to get out alive or are they all doomed?
I have always been a sucker for slasher films that revolve around high school reunions. Slaughter High is without a doubt my favorite but I also have always dug The Redeemer also known as Class Reunion Massacre) as well. Some people may argue that it isn’t really a slasher flick and while I am inclined to agree to a certain extent I also think that it includes a number of elements (such as people being trapped somewhere they can’t escape, a masked killer picking them off in a number of gruesome ways, etc) that makes it a slasher. It is without a doubt an odd little movie and some people who watch it are going to be confused as it doesn’t make a great deal of sense at times, but I still think that it is awesome.
I first saw it when I was in the sixth grade. My mom and dad had gone to rent movies at the carpet store in town (hey, it was the 80’s and EVERYBODY rented out VHS tapes regardless of what type of business it was) and came home with this movie I Dismember Mama, and Open House (what can I say, I come from a horror-loving family). We watched it last and I thought that it absolutely ruled even though I was a little puzzled by some of the scenes that take place and after I watched it again recently I thought that it held up quite well (though I didn’t care for some of the religious overtones such as the lesbian being targeted by the killer just because she was into chicks and he saw it as a sin). Yes it’s corny and tries a little too hard at times to convey a message (though I am not sure what that message is) it is still a fun little movie that I can’t help but like.
The film opens with a little boy (The Redeemer) rising up out of a lake who then goes about seeing a priest and making him grow an extra thumb (Why? I have no clue and it is never explained). The priest then seemingly becomes possessed by the little boy and takes it upon himself to invite these six people to a fake class reunion so he can kill them. You see, each of these characters symbolize one of the Seven Deadly Sins (I think, I am a little puzzled as to why there are just six of them) and he feels the need to kill them for their past actions and who they have become (why does he pick these people since there are so many to choose from who have done much worse? I have no clue and the filmmakers don’t tell us but it’s irreverent to be honest as I was just more concerned with seeing people die no matter who they were or what they did).
One of the things I liked most about this movie is the fact that things start happening pretty quickly. It isn’t long before the characters start getting killed off and I enjoyed the majority of the death scenes. Once the six main characters get to the reunion there isn’t a lot of screwing around and the killer gets to work on them in record time. In terms of death scenes we get a guy burned to death (which is probably my favorite), some stabbings (the one that involves the guy getting stabbed in the top of the head rocks), a drowning, and a couple of shootings. The film doesn’t waste a lot of time building character development and just gets on to the killing and I approve, because to be honest isn’t this why a lot of us watch horror films?
I think that The Redeemer is an underrated classic from the 70’s. Even though parts of it are more than a little bizarre (I’m talking about the whole guy with two thumbs thing here) and there were moments where I had trouble following the story I still think that it is a very solid film. It has an interesting premise, some cool death scenes (the ones that involve use of the creepy-ass puppet/mascot costume/marionette thingy rule and scared the shit out of me when I was a kid) and just rocks in general. Check it out when you can, but I suggest watching it very late at night like I did coupled with another horror flick(we actually watched it after The Mutilator, another fine film if you ask me) with the lights turned off to really appreciate it. If you are a fan of late 70’s horror flicks then you can’t go wrong with this one.