I don’t know how The Redeemer: Son of Satan! gets no recognition as one of the earlier slashers that was a blueprint for so many slashers in the 80s. Released in 1978, six months before Halloween, The Redeemer: Son of Satan! was actually filmed in 1976!
The majority of the plot revolves around three men and three women who come to their 10-year high school reunion at an isolated school…and are the only ones there! There’s a yearbook with their pictures being cut out of it. There’s a killer knocking them off one by one in inventive ways. There are various killer costumes (reaper, clown, puppet, hunter, janitor).
They even conclude pretty quickly that it must be someone they wronged back in school who’s getting revenge! It’s almost as if they’ve seen all the slashers that wouldn’t come out until the next decade!
But what they don’t realize is that you never split up! Even after bodies start turning up, not only do they split up…some of them go off alone! But it makes for some creepy moments. The hallways are dark and eerie. The killer is a freak. And the murders are brutal.
Each victim is initially introduced so we see the sinful life being led: greed, lust, vanity, even good old evil homosexuality. Interestingly, the gay character is a lesbian, and we first see her with her girlfriend, who makes a very gay-positive statement about how their relationship is nothing to be ashamed of and is the same as that of married straight couples. On top of that, the lesbian is the final girl!
Meanwhile, there’s also a pretty boy actor who seems to be aligned with vanity—he primps in a mirror and worries about his looks. He’s also portrayed as totally effeminate and makes a joke about not having kids, so I get the impression it’s being implied that he also is gay rather than stated directly. After all, lesbians were much more popular in horror movies in the 1970s than gay guys.
As a slasher, The Redeemer: Son of Satan! is classic. It’s the “Son of Satan” part that messes it up, seeming to throw in a bit of The Omen for the satanic/religious angle that was all the rage in 1970s horror. There’s a subplot that bookends the movie involving “The Redeemer,” who supposedly comes up from the waters of hell (waters???) to take down the sinners. There’s a priest. There’s a creepy little boy. There’s a hand with two thumbs. There is a link to the reunion, but it also leaves way too many unanswered questions for a slasher film. Religion ruins all the good bad things in the world.
The movie was even retitled as Class Reunion Massacre to market to the slasher crowd and pretend the religious angle doesn’t exist.