Anchor Bay // 1982 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // March 28th, 2000
No Class Has Less Class Than This Class.
This flick was one of the series from National Lampoon magazine between their successful Animal House and the "Vacation" series. It has the distinction of being the first and worst script ever written by John Hughes (Ferris Beuller's Day Off, Mr. Mom, Home Alone). It attempts to be a spoof of high school slasher movies, and fails on every level. I won't say there isn't ANY laughs in it, but for a movie that depends on everything you see and hear being a laugh, you won't find more than a few. Anchor Bay does a very nice job with this movie only disc; the fact that it is a non-anamorphic transfer and no extras at all worry me not a lick since I don't think the movie deserved any more than that. Actually the transfer looks much better than the film deserves.
This is the part where we talk about what was good and positive about the movie and disc. Don't worry, this won't be long. I'm not one to put my nose up at lowbrow comedy. Bathroom jokes, exposed breast jokes, a good spoof are all things I like in the right movie. But let's talk about this movie.
The story begins with a practical joke played on a student where they convince him he is going to get a little hand-lovin from the class beauty and it turns out he's doing it with his twin sister. The event scars him so badly that he later kills his parents with an upright vacuum cleaner, and decides to kill his classmates ten years later at the Class of '72 Reunion of Lizzie Borden High School. This is actually a funny sounding premise, unfortunately it doesn't come off as funny as it sounds. The students are an eclectic lot; consisting of a couple heavy dopers, a vampire, a blind girl, a fire-breathing devil worshipper, the Animal House character, and a bevy of preppie and yuppie jerks. The only notable actor among them was Stephen Furst (Animal House, TV's Babylon 5) as the crude and rude Hubert Downs. He got a chuckle or two by slipping a topless high-school shot of the beauty queen into the class retrospective slide show. Another notable moment was a cameo from pioneer rocker Chuck Berry who did a couple numbers as the entertainment. Perhaps the funniest moment in the movie for me was when the crowd realizes they are locked into the school and the two dopers decide to help. They will get really high so they can "escape." Get it? Escape? Ha ha.
Anchor Bay did a pretty nice job with the transfer. It keeps the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but is non-anamorphic. Despite this the colors are vivid without bleeding, and detail is sharp without looking too edgy. There are few film defects and little grain to mar your viewing displeasure.
The sound wasn't bad either, with a Dolby Surround track. While it was basically a center channel track, dialogue was clear so you can hear every bad joke perfectly. When Chuck Berry started to play the rest of the channels broke out of hiding, and sounded pretty good.
So much for the good stuff. That "escape" line was the only pun that worked for me, out of dozens. The many sight gags and spoof lines had a hint that they should have worked, and a few got a chuckle, such as the school having a Medieval Sciences room full of torture equipment. The movie tried. And it failed. In movies like the Hot Shots pair and the Airplane series this type of humor worked; in this one everything was just too dumb and not funny. Too dumb for appreciating the movie on any level but spoof, and not funny enough to appreciate as spoof. Houston, we have a problem...the movie sucks.
I think my last line pretty much said it all. Wait...I made a mistake. There is a National Lampoon trivia leaflet inside the case, so there is an extra. If that makes the difference for you, then go for it. Unless you've seen the movie and actually like it, this one I have to say pass on. You can rent it if you like, the movie looks good; but don't say I didn't warn you.
All involved with Class Reunion are to be whipped in the public square until they make a newer, better movie. Oh wait, some of them already have. John Hughes is off the hook, and I liked Babylon 5 so Stephen Furst is released too. Anchor Bay is acquitted, though I have to ask them "Why this movie?" This one getting released is perhaps the biggest question of all.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Rated R