I never attended any of my own high school reunions. Partially because I moved out of the area as soon as they handed me that diploma, and partially because I had no friends. It’s a good thing I didn’t, too, because shit like this happens more often than you know. You go because you’re curious to find out if the head cheerleader turned out to be a corporate lawyer, a stripper or a mother of three (it was always the latter), but you end up being murdered by a puppet in the gymnasium. Don’t believe me? Watch Class Reunion Massacre.
Go on, just try to. I dare you. It’s a work of cinematic genius, I tell you. Remember how all those obnoxious film students in college couldn’t stop talking shit about that long continuous opening tracking shot in Touch of Evil? Well fuck them, because Class Reunion Massacre has an opening shot just as long. Okay, technically it doesn’t really “track” per se, it just kinda hangs. On a fucking river. Yeah, that’s right, it’s three fucking minutes of footage of a river. Good thing Mr. Welles didn’t live long enough to see it. “This is a lot of shit, you know that,” he’d say, wiping the dribble off his four chins with a Brillo pad. “It’s very unrewarding.”
Finally, after three minutes of Rio Dullo, we get a quote superimposed on the screen. “From out of the darkness, the hand of the redeemer shall appear to punish those who have lived in sin…” and yes, it ends with the ellipsis, as if they couldn’t afford the typesetting needed to finish it. Meanwhile, Keith Emerson’s retarded little brother diddles around on a synthesizer. Suddenly some Butch Patrick wannabe starts walking OUT of the river, and for the first time in five minutes we’ve got ACTION baby. Not much action, mind you, but at this point, we’ll take what we can get. Shit, this movie’s already less interesting than a REAL high school reunion, and that’s saying something.
Butchie walks out of the river, gets on a bus, and goes to some religious school where he’s a choir boy or something. As he changes into his choir boy uniform in the boys locker room – relax, girls, this ain’t Porky’s – his classmates start telling a joke about a sailor and a whore but we never get to hear the punch line because somewhere else someone’s just shot the pool boy. Are you following all this? Is it gonna be on the test?
Okay, good, now put all that in the back of your mind, because you’ll never need it again. Seriously. For the next 30 minutes, we follow a small group of alumni preparing for their reunion. Hence the title of the movie, finally. There’s the spoiled thespian, the serious scholar, there’s even a lesbian. Meanwhile, some unknown killer type is cutting all their photos from a yearbook and making clay masks of their faces. Hey, is this gonna be like that old Twilight Zone episode? Finally, the alums show up at the old school itself, and the strange janitor who answers the doors doesn’t seem to know there’s gonna be a reunion at all. Despite the MASSIVE FUCKING BANNER that says “Welcome Class of 1967” hanging over the entryway. And the HUGE FUCKING PARTY TABLE decked out in orange and red ribbons. Nope, sorry, didn’t get the email. Or however they communicated back then. Still, there are only six alums who show up for this reunion, and they have no idea who invited them. But that doesn’t seem to bother ‘em much, so they do what classmates who haven’t seen each other in 20 years should do. They start fucking. “Nothing changes,” one suave dude says and plants a wet one on some dumb blonde who was in his science class once. You think we were horny back then? Just wait’ll you see what 20 years and a life of staring at a river will do to a man.
It ain’t long before things start getting all wonky, and I don’t mean sexual. The dumb blonde finds the first victim, a former janitor who’s been dead so long a family of maggots is making a new home in his neck. In a rare moment of horror film lucidity, they actually DO try to immediately leave, but in a not-so-rare moment of horror film cliché, all the windows and doors are suddenly barred shut and locked, obviously by someone who managed to do all that construction and welding work in a few short minutes without so much as a sound. Oh yeah, and now there’s some creepy guy outside dressed like the K-Mart Halloween Department version of Death harassing them through the fence with a big plastic sickle. Oh, the horror! Still, I’d take this over more footage of that fucking river.
Well, I think you can guess how the rest of this movie goes. Like Ten Little Indians only four short, each of our alums gets picked off one by one in clever ways. One girl gets killed in super slo-mo by a crazed hunter who looks like the bastard son of Brad Dourif and the bassist from Black Oak Arkansas. The former high school quarterback gets offed by a Bunsen burner and a remote controlled Howdy Doody puppet. And then there’s the killer himself, obviously a failed drama student whose put on a few pounds in those unkind post-graduation twenty years, who dresses like Bozo the Clown and acts like Nicolas Cage on a heroin binge. “The time has come to serve yourself!” he emotes while disposing of the class bimbo by drowning her in a sink, but not before giving us some completely unnecessary (but always welcome) wet T-shirt action. Seriously, though, this chick has GOT to be the single weakest girl ever killed in a horror film. Not only did she get killed by a clown, she got killed in a fucking SINK by an overweight, effeminate, OVERACTING clown. That’s just embarrassing.
Y’know, now that I think about it, if I ever start a rock band, I think I’m going to call it Death By Clown. It’s got a nice ring to it.
More death ensue, some by remote-controlled puppets, and every time someone gets killed, Keith Emerson has an epileptic fit on the soundtrack. By the time this film ends, the opening quote is finished, and we finally understand why the kid came out of the river thanks to a strange, spiritual conclusion which tries hard to turn this brave little slasher into something far, far more meaningful. Does it succeed? Depends on what you’re looking for. There’s very little blood in Class Reunion Massacre, and not one tit despite two semi-hot and very ditzy blondes that should’ve given up the goods like immediately. The death traps themselves are pretty ingenious, though, in a bloodless Saw kinda way, and some are so ridiculous you swear the filmmakers were so hopped up on Night Train, they make Orson Welles look like a fucking teetotaler on the set of his frozen food commercials. “What is it you want, in the depths of your ignorance?” he’d shout to the overweight, overacting killer clown, before hissing in anger “You are such PESTS!” And any film that can piss off Citizen Kane is okay in my book. Two and a half Kari Wuhrers.
FAST FORWARDING TO THE GOOD PARTS –
00:38 – Ditzy blonde finds dead janitor whose neck is a housing project for maggots. Which means the killer struck last around, oh say, 1973?
00:42 – Death by radio-controlled Howdy Doody puppet with built in Bunsen burner! Memo to Jigsaw and your fancy schmancy Saw death contraptions: Let me know when you wanna play with the big boys.
00:51 – Why they tell high school quarterbacks to pay attention in science class. And why they tell film score composers not to listen to Emerson Lake and Palmer.
00:54 – Great, the killer in this film is Truman fucking Capote!
1:01 – Death by Clown.
1:12 – Death by Puppet.
1:18 - Death by Llama. Just kidding. Woulda been cool though.