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So Bad It’s Good #6 : National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982)

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Guilty Pleasures that we enjoyed – even though we don’t quite know why.

Movie Title : National Lampoon’s Class Reunion
Released 1982
Starring Gerrit Graham, Michael Lerner, Blackie Dammett, Fred McCarren, Stephen Furst, Mews Small, Miriam Flynn, Chuck Berry
Directed By Michael Miller

What is it? Written by none other than John Hughes, I’m guessing that this was mostly an attempt to cash in on the success of 1978’s “Animal House”, but instead of Boobs, Beer & Blutarsky – we wind up on a dark & stormy night with the reunion of Lizzie Borden High’s class of 1972 – and a maniac slasher with extremely hairy legs that wears a paper bag on his head… and a school girl outfit – classy.

It turns out that on the eve of Graduation back in ’72, most of the popular guys & gals in high school played a prank on fellow classmate Walter Baylor that had a rather….. disturbing outcome, and he’s seeking revenge. Led by former student body president Bob Spinnaker (Gerrit Graham) & the man no-one can seem to remember, Gary Nash (Fred McCarren), the remaining students have to find a way to stick together and keep from getting bumped off long enough to find a way out of the locked tight school – oh, and we’re of course treated to Chuck Berry performing “My Ding-a-Ling”.

What’s wrong with it? : It really depends on what your definition of “wrong” actually is. If by wrong, you mean a horrible film that should not be able to entertain you in the least – then yeah, “Class Reunion” is all kinds of wrong.

Whether it’s the terrible acting by almost the entire minor supporting cast, the incredibly low production costs, the major cheese-factor of the entire thing, or the mind-boggingly horrible ending, “Class Reunion” is definitely nowhere near the league of “Animal House” or the film that National Lampoon next released, the Chevy Chase starrer, “Vacation” – and it showed in being shunned by Audiences & Critics alike.

What’s right about it? Almost all of the above.

Stephen Furst is definitely a large part of it for me – his work as Hubert Downs is a big turnaround from Flounder in “Animal House”, and he steals the picture, delivering lines like “Hey Walter, listen – you’re making a big deal out of nothing. You’re not unique you know. Everyone in class had sex with your sister” & “Walter if you come on down, I promise if we’re ever in the shower together again, I won’t snap your nuts with my towel”. Even his run in with the blind & mostly deaf Iris Augen (Mews Small) still brings me an immense feeling of “wrongness” when I see it.

A lot of the major cast actually put in some very funny performances, Gerrit Graham (playing the typical preppy guy down to a tee), Barry Diamond and Art Evans as Chip & Carl, Michael Lerner doing his best “Dr. Loomis” as Walter’s psychiatrist, and of course, Blackie Dammett (AKA John Kiedis – father of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis) as the deranged yet somehow lovable Walter Baylor.

Why is it so bad it’s good? For whatever reason it is, I’ve always found “Class Reunion” to be extremely funny – but I’m at a loss to explain exactly why. I mean, for a comedy, this flick gives “The Naked Gun” a run for its money in my book in terms of pure over-the-top hacky jokes. It’s one of those films where if you put it on, try not to think about it too hard, and take it for the parody that it is, you’ll have a great time with it.

– ADAM WEEKS

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