Saturday, December 24, 2016

Honourable Mention: National Lampoon’s Class Reunion

Released in 1982 and directed by Michael Miller this was a film written by John Hughes and comedically, for me, falls flat (it definitely has not aged well but I suspect it was flat back in the day). Hughes combines high school reunion tropes with some by-the-number horror tropes but never finds a particularly easy sit between the slasher orientated main story and the more supernatural elements he puts into the story.

The film starts ten years prior to the feature and it is the class party for the graduating class of 1972. Their school is Lizzie Borden High and they are all around a camp fire getting drunk/stoned. They get Walter (Blackie Dammett) to chug some booze and then he is taken to one side by Bob (Gerrit Graham) who says that the homecoming queen, Meredith ( Shelley Smith), is waiting for him in a car – but Walter and Meredith must both wear bags over their heads. Walter agrees but it is a prank – the bags are ripped off their heads during a hand job – we don’t see the partner's face...

Year Book entry
We get our first hint of vampirism during the title sequence where we see year book entries. Egon Von Stoker (Jim Staahl) had the nickname Jaws and was an exchange student from Transylvania High. He was elected "Most likely to be home before sunrise", was the chairman of the Borden Blood Drive and was founder of the Eternal Life Society. The film then goes immediately into the class reunion. Lizzie Borden High has been closed and the reunion is in the dilapidated school. The primary story is of Walter having escaped for a mental institution and out to kill his tormentors.

Memories of the Borden Blood Drive
However, I mentioned some supernatural elements and the primary one surrounds Delores Salk (Zane Buzby). In high school her legs were in iron braces but she has sold her soul to walk unaided. She is now possessed, can summon fire and winds and there is an element of the Exorcist to all of this. This supernatural element sits uneasily in the film but the script looks at Delores a little more than Egon, making this work slightly more than the vampiric element.

do not disturb
Other than running the blood drive all we really know about Egon is he has fangs. He has very little screen time but uses that to use the same chat up line on various women. It eventually works on Mary Beth (Marla Pennington) and they dance. The music, provided by Chuck Berry, has ended by this point and so Egon hums a tune – sharp ears will recognise it as a theme from Dark Shadows. Later Mary Beth and Egon claw at Walter as he opens an upright coffin that they are in. And that is it – barring a quick gag over the credits about eternal life and beauty parlours that was as unfunny as you may suspect. At best I think we could call it a fleeting visitation but it is there nonetheless.

The imdb page is here.

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