DVD Review: The Redeemer: Son of Satan
Released By: Code Red
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 84 Minutes
Special Features: Theatrical Trailer
Suggested Price: $16.98
The Source: A mysterious boy rises from a lake and posses an overly enthusiastic priest. The priest then stages a phony class reunion to lure a half dozen stereotypical characters to an old school for redeeming.
The Fanboy Factor: If the vague and confusing description in the Source Material section of this review doesn’t put you off watching this film then you will probably be in for a treat. The plot defies description and what small portion is explained doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. This is one of those films that leaves a lot of things open to interpretation and no two versions of that will ever be the same.
I first became aware of this film in the glory days of home video when I saw the box for it under the more obvious title of Class Reunion Massacre. For some reason I never rented the film even though I thought the box cover photo of a guy in a Don Post looking skull mask was pretty cool. It’s probably best that I didn’t though because I am not sure I could have appreciated the film back then as much as I do now.
The casual viewer will be quick to dismiss this as one of the many cash in films that followed in the wake of Halloween and Friday the 13th. Because of the killer’s fondness for wearing different masks and costumes, I initially thought this film was a rip off of another rip off, Terror Train. What shocked me more than anything in the film itself was when I discovered it was released to theaters several months BEFORE Halloween in 1978 and apparently shot a few years before that! So what we actually have here is a rip off of The Omen and it appears to be the inspiration for a lot of the slasher films that were about to become popular.
The core of this film concerns a killer stalking various members of a high school class in their old school building which is no longer being used. Even though the murderer has no connections to his victims, he likes to disguise himself as everything from a comical hunter to a creepy magician with an even creepier marionette. The reunion attendees are your typical jock, rich girl, gay guy, etc. and since no background is ever given as to who they are or why they were chosen for redeeming it’s pretty hard to care much about them. The interesting thing is that the ambiguity which was probably very annoying to audiences who originally saw this film is theaters is now it’s greatest asset on home video since it actually enhances the scares in the light of all the by the numbers slasher films that followed.
Another really strange element of this film is its weak attempt to cash in on the box office interest of films like The Omen and The Exorcist. Once the reunion starts a few minutes into the film, there is no further reference to Satan, his son, or anything even mildly demonic until the very end. This gives the impression that a standard horror movie was originally planned and the majority of it was filmed. Then somewhere around the time of shooting the final reel, the producers decided to switch gears and film some wraparound footage of a weird young boy interacting with the killer. The resulting feature falls way short in the logic department but still manages to entertain in its own bizarre way.
The Product: Code Red has a consistent track record of releasing top notch DVDs of obscure horror films. These releases usually include commentaries and all types of extras but none of those are present here. Aside from one grainy trailer, the only relevant bonus in this film is its transfer from 35MM. This is by no means ideal but just look at the trailer to get an idea of how poor the other home video versions have looked in the past. It’s a shame they couldn’t put together a commentary track with some of the people involved in the creation of the film because this is the type of movie that could really use one!
The Bottom Line: The Redeemer: Son of Satan is one of those quirky little films where the whole greatly exceeds the sum of its parts. When viewed in the context of the time in which it was made and the major upheaval the horror film genre was about to go through, it provides both entertainment and some valuable historic perspective.