23 January 2022

The Thirteenth Reunion (1980)
50 min.
Airdate: September 20, 1980
Directed by Peter Sasdy.
With Julia Foster, Ben Faraday, Kevin Stoney, Gerrard Kelly, George Innes, Norman Bird, and Richard Pearson.
Jose Cruz
Reporter Ruth (Foster) is given an assignment to check into the new “Think Thin” fitness club that is operating out of the Chesterton Clinic, a revolutionary program that gets its results by breaking people’s wills rather than burning carbs, in addition to assigning unorthodox diet plans.

After a romantic acquaintance (Faraday) from the club dies in a car accident, Ruth begins to notice the strange goings-on at the clinic with the help of a funeral assistant (Kelly). Their investigations lead them to discover a corpse smuggling conspiracy… and to what delectable ends they will soon find out.

If the inevitable conclusion of this morsel wasn’t telegraphed from the start—two grim men presiding over a corpse before taking out a gleaming cleaver—then the introduction of the health club element in the story would surely make the intentions clear.

Still, the series shows it has a knack for -- and no shortage of -- surprises. If anything, the inexorability of the drama’s proceedings actually aids the suspense, as our plucky ink-slinger moves ever closer to the mystery’s solution.

The climactic scene in the dining room is a master class in subtlety and suggestion. The ravenous glimmer in the dinner guests’ eyes is far more unsettling than any amount of bloody long pig that we could see.

The fact that Jeffrey Burnham’s script adds a note of tragic poignancy to the affair (and a winking nod to the Sweeney Todd legend) only makes it all the more delicious.

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