Thursday, June 30, 2011

Graduation Day (1981)

Graduation Day (1981)
Dir: Herb Freed (Beyond Evil/Tomboy)

Starring: Linnea Quigley (Return Of The Living Dead/Night of The Demons/Creepazoids/Hollywood Chainsaw hookers) , Christopher George (The Exterminator/City of the Living Dead/Enter The Ninja)
Vanna White (Wheel of Fortune)

Graduation Day is exactly what you would think it is if you are a fan of 80's Horror films and that is a badly done rip off of the popular slashers of the era, Such as Halloween and Friday the 13th. During the early 80's it seemed that everywhere you went to rent videos you would  find hundreds of these cash in's and sadly for every Mutilator and Maniac there were dozen's of these flops. Truth be told though I have always and will always have a soft spot for these films and I will continue to track these down until the day I die in search of my next favorite underrated film to add to the collection. This one however will not be going on that list of self held classics.
                The film opens when Laura a high school track runner dies while trying to accomplish a 30 second 100 yard dash. As Graduation approaches Laura's older sister Anne returns home from a tour with the Navy to attend her sisters Graduation and collect a few trophies and sentimental pieces before heading back to her duties. We immediately see that Anne's mother lives with her new husband who for some reason has a distaste for Anne that is never explained other than the fact he is a drunk.As the kids at Midvale High prepare for the graduation ceremonies , Members of the Track team start to go missing and we see one young woman getting her throat slit within the few first opening moments of the film by a killer who carries a stop watch with them to time the killings perhaps?. Anne decides to head to the campus to seek answers about her sisters mysterious death. At first she does appear a little creepy as she approaches one girl and freaks her out by talking about how Sally's eyes remind her of her dead sisters. Later Sally see's Anne at the Grad rehearsal and finds out that she was her friends sister, so that blows over quickly. Anne wishes to speak with Laura's Fiance/boyfriend before her premature demise and she gives him a grad present for being so kind to her little sis. For the most part of the first half of the film all we get is introduction to the students and faculty all of which lack any real endearing qualities at all, and truly serve only two purposes . One to be fodder for the body count and two to add to the endless list of red herrings this film will throw at you throughout.

Next we see Sally preparing for Acrobatic Practice as she is stalked in the locker room. A newspaper photographer arrives to take some snaps for the local sheet as he has heard she is a Olympic hopeful. Coach Michaels demands that sally perform her entire routine and scolds her badly for botching any small thing. The Photographer notices him making some very creepy faces as she tries again and he loses it when she fails to nail the landing. As Sally returns to the showers A person in a fencing uniform kills her by Fencing Lance through the throat, Which is not fully shown.The story then moves on to the Music teacher Mr. Roberts who apparently moonlights as an entertainer and he has a eye for the young girls on campus as he is flirting with a group of girls , talking about his tour he will be going on during the Summer break. Dolores (Linnea Quigley)
the school stoner slut seduces him into a passing grade before heading into the woods to get high with her equally slutty boyfriend as they talk about whom they have slept with.The two get caught in the act by the campus police Officer Macgregor who sends them on their way to smoke the pot for himself before the young kids are offed by someone stalking them in the distance.Anne decides to head back to the campus to investigate some  more and she begins to snoop around the shop class where Coach Michaels also teaches. He finds her being nosy and the two have a discussion where she pretty much flat out accuses him of killing her sister in which he denies because he had high hopes for her and she was one of his best athletes.

The next day after school Football and track Star Ralph is jogging through the woods near campus and stops to flirt with some girls , they throw his football into the Bush and while he goes to retrieve it the stop watch killer seems to have put a dart or spear of some sort through the ball so when it is thrown at Ralph, it stabs him in the gut killing him. After each kill the murderer stops it's watch and then crosses the person off of the track and field yearbook picture, letting the viewer know he or she is just out to knock off the jocks. The graduating class all attend a seniors dance and while most of the kids are busy dancing and roller skating, Dolores and Tony head out into the woods for there own pre grad festivities as they are both horn dogs. As Dolores disrobes, Tony heads out to take a piss and is decapitated, Unfortunately the screen is too dark to really get a good view of the killing although judging by the fake head Dolores finds when she goes looking for him , we didn't miss much in the effects department. As Dolores screams bloody murder like only Linnea Quigley in her cheesy 80's way can , The Killer in the Fencing uniform jumps out and gives chase. Eventually as we all saw coming from the moment we saw Linnea's name in the credits, She is caught and killed with a sword, This time in a annoying cut away.

The Morning after the party several parents call the school questioning Principle Guglione why their children never returned home from the party the night prior.As he quickly gets tired of hearing from the complaining parents a Investigator , Inspector Halliday arrives for questioning and Guglione chops it up to the teens just being rebellious which seems understandable since all the missing students were on the same Track Team they could very well be together. Meanwhile outside on the track a student practices his pole Vault alone and comes crashing down on a bed of nails killing him. Halliday heads to interrogate Coach Michaels and he says he has no idea where the kids could be and that they are no longer his team as he has just been fired from his position. As the inspector continues the questioning , two girls find blood coming from a locker in the girls shower room and when they open the locker Sally's body comes tumbling out. Coach Michaels just happens to walk by and see this and he looks in the locker and finds a fencing sword. Immediately the girls suspect him of the murder and then Kevin comes to the rescue and gets into a brawl with the coach as police arrive. Coach Michaels afraid of getting pinned for the murders takes off into the woods with Kevin not far behind.

Kevin and Michaels begin fighting again and in a twist , Kevin reveals himself as the killer. Right after coming out with that the Inspector catches up with the two struggling in the woods and Michaels is shot. Now Anne is shown back home packing and preparing to leave when she decides to go visit Kevin and thank him for helping avenge her sisters death, but when she arrives she notices that her sister Laura's corpse is being kept in Kevin's room draped in cap and gown. Kevin sneaks up on her and wants Anne to kiss her sister as he is preparing to marry the corpse. During a struggle Kevin and the Corpse bride to be are shoved out a second story window. Anne tries to flee but Kevin meets Anne at the front door with his new wife in his arms. Obviously in a state of shock Anne takes off running and finds herself back at the campus where she stumbles upon the rest of the dead track team members.Kevin is unintentionally made out to look incredibly non threatening here as Anne manages to fight him off with ease on a few scuffles, Mainly due to Anne's horrible fight choreography but still it just makes the killer in this movie look even lamer than he did prior and that in this films case is really bad. Anne finally gets away when Kevin is shoved into the corpse of the pole vaulter with spikes sticking out of him. After Kevin is dead the one short moment of brilliance this film has (With the exception of a nude Linnea Quigley) happens when, Anne has returned to her old house to get some sleep before having to leave for her next tour the following morning and she is awoke by Kevin lurking over her bed with a knife she wakes up screaming and it turns out to be her Mothers husband just standing over her drunk and rambling about how much he hates her. I thought this scene was great for two reasons, One it was one of the few scenes in the film where the suspense was actually building well and two the reveal made it that much funnier , So as the film faded off the screen and off to the back of my brain to never be thought of again I did at least get a legitimate laugh out of it.

           Graduation day Could have been called Red Herring the Movie, I mean they made nearly everybody seem like they were the killer but not in a subtle "Maybe it's Them" kind of way. They went way too far out of the way to make you think it was either Anne or Coach Michaels and even latter they try with the principle and his lax attitude towards the students well being. Another thing this film depended on way too much was the dark means scary route and the use of music to create jump scares, If you do that a few times in a film fine, but when most of the entire duration of the film is just that than it loses it's novelty and charm quick.All in all though what got me upset the most was the film is advertised as a grisly slasher flick and it has Linnea Quigley and those are two awesome things, But when your film has little to no nudity and it is a slasher in a high school , in the 80's you kind of expect to see some boobs, especially when Quigley's name is attached to it and my biggest problem with this film is the constant cut away on the death scenes. Now don't get me wrong I do not expect every film to be filled with T & A and I don't require every movie I watch to be Dead Alive or re-Animator but when you are making a slasher film, At least show some of the killings in gruesome or unique fashion. I cannot stand when you see someone get killed off screen and gotta wait the entire movie to see what happened to them afterwards in the end. That is a tactic that the old Friday the 13th series did to death and made it so annoying and just plain not worth the outcome.
             In Closing, If you are a huge Slasher fan and have to see every slasher ever made than check this one out but trust me you ain't missing anything if you don't. I mean this one does not even have enough in the cheese factor to make it a worthwhile watch, It could have been great because all the ingredients were there and if it was tweaked just a bit it could have been a really fun movie because it does have it's moments, But as is it is just boring. Troma you have let me down with this one, I was expecting allot more.

Overall: 4.5 out of 10

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