The Redeemer: Son Of Satan (1978)

OCTOBER 15, 2009


If time were not a straight, continually forward-moving entity, then I would say that The Redeemer: Son Of Satan (aka Class Reunion Massacre) was a combined ripoff of Terror Train, Slaughter High, and Prom Night IV (of all things). But as Redeemer came before all of those films, I have to assume that the filmmakers of each saw this film and took away a different element for their movie.

Like Terror Train, The Redeemer’s killer likes to switch costumes. It’s an interesting concept, but like Train, you end up having one costume that you really dig and want to see used throughout the film as opposed to a scene or two. Here it’s a clown, a costume that takes center stage for what is also the film’s best kill scene, a drowning inside a locked bathroom (it’s not the best DEATH though - that would be the one right before it, when the film’s most annoying character is spiked through the head). The other costumes are largely fun, but as I long for a really great clown slasher, it sucks to have him for only ¼ of the film.

(For the record, Train’s best costume would be the Groucho Marx face one used on the original poster.)

As for Slaughter High, both films concern a high school reunion that no one besides our main characters have been invited to. And again, none of our characters have just stayed in their hometown, working some dead end job. Nope, they’re all largely successful and living a plane ride away, and once again they seemingly went to a school that was miles away from anything else in civilization.

So how does Prom Night IV factor in? Well, our killer is a priest who considers our protagonists to be sinners. But unlike Prom Night IV, he doesn’t take his sweet-ass time killing them for their sins, so Redeemer definitely has the edge there. And his priestliness allows for a truly disturb-o-funny scene near the end where he takes a little bit too long of a look at a young boy.

The movie also has a really weird tone to it. For example, our villain has two thumbs on his left hand. And this birth defect is passed on to whoever the Son of Satan is possessing (sort of like the gimp leg in Shocker, or singing “Time Is On My Side” in Fallen), but since he only possesses the one guy, it seems like a way to make sure dumb audiences know what’s going on than to serve any sort of narrative purpose. Also, there are a peculiar number of freeze frames in the movie. But they are freeze frames that are seemingly designed to pad the length of a shot. For example, the opening credits play over a still frame of a river, which finally comes “alive” near the end of the titles, when a figure rises from the water. And a lot of the scene transitions/fades have noticeable freezes as well. It’s as if director Constantine S. Gochis never shot enough establishing or breathing room footage on any take, which perhaps explains why he has not a single other credit (as director or otherwise) to his wonderfully epic name.

Originally this was going to be Friday’s movie, as it was supposed to start at midnight (which, in revival movie screening time, is roughly 12:30), but due to unforeseen circumstances, tonight’s kickoff movie of Slumber Party Massacre was canceled, so Graduation Day became the first movie, with Redeemer moved up to 10 pm and Massacre At Central High subbing in for the midnight slot. So now you get two reviews today, which should make up for the tardiness of everything for the past week or so. We’re even!

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