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  National Lampoon's Class Reunion The Old Gang's Back In Town
Year: 1982
Director: Michael Miller
Stars: Gerrit Graham, Michael Lerner, Fred McCarren, Miriam Flynn, Shelley Smith, Stephen Furst, Zane Buzby, Blackie Dammett, Mews Small, Misty Rowe, Jacklyn Zeman, Barry Diamond, Art Evans, Marla Pennington, Randy Powell, Jim Staahl, Anne Ramsey, Chuck Berry
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Ten years ago, the class of Lizzie Borden High celebrated their graduation by playing a trick on the class wimp, Walter Baylor (Blackie Dammett) by making him think he was going to get lucky, only to be surprised by the identity of the girl pleasuring him. He wasn't only surprised, he was sent insane by his experience and although his class forget about him, he does not forget them, so when the ten year class reunion comes around Walter is there to join in. But his idea of joining in is a lot more dangerous than everyone else's - because he wants revenge, and he's going to go about it in a deadly manner...

That's about it for plot in the National Lampoon movie which came after the rightfully lauded Animal House, but before the equally popular Vacation, which left this one not only a flop at the box office, but somewhat forgotten in the scheme of the organisation's canon of movies. Watching it it's easy to see why, taking the genre of slasher movies and doing very little with it, as if this were a horror film reluctant to kill any of its characters off, and what's a masked maniac flick without victims? In all about three people die, and two of them offscreen, as the script prefers to indulge itself in crude, would-be daring but irksomely self-satisfied humour.

Nevertheless, Class Reunion does have a few fans, and that is mainly due to the fellow on writing duties: step forward John Hughes, on the cusp of his success directing his own comedy hits, but not so obviously headed for bigger things here. The worst aspects of his humour, the smug, supposedly outrageous but actually surprisingly conservative parts, are well to the fore here, and even though he thought up a handful of truly disgusting gags for this, they lack bite when flimed so flatly, as if this were a near the knuckle television special rather than a proper movie. There may have been skits sending up the blind or including druggie japes, but it would take a real prude to be offended.

You're more likely to be offended by the shapeless plotting which is so slack that you wonder why they bothered building it around the serial killer idea at all. It can be summarised thus: everybody except two small groups sit about cracking jokes while the others go to look for the exit at great length; they crack jokes too. This loose, thrown together pacing gives one more than enough time to ponder the mystery of how the reunion's entertainment, Chuck Berry (offering us a snatch of My Ding-a-Ling - cheers) managed to get away when nobody else can. There's some vague instruction to the search parties to find tools to break down the door, yet this seems arbitrary at best.

The main thing to do, we notice, is to keep those oneliners coming, and in truth this is not much better narratively than most of the slashers it sends up, so they got that much right at least. But let's not be too harsh, as Hughes invented some worthwhile characters who are presented too dismissively, although the ideas of the exchange student being a vampire or the disabled student who has regained the use of her legs thanks to a deal with Satan are good ones. Really, National Lampoon's Class Reunion wasn't really intended to be analysed too closely, it was a bit of bad taste fluff designed to offer up a few laughs at the time, so there could be the nostalgia factor at work among those who complain that it's underrated. Certainly the cast seemed willing enough, and trivia fans would be interested that the father of The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis played the killer; otherwise, it underwhelmed. Music by Peter Bernstein and Mark Goldenberg.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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