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Graduation Day (1981)

DVD Cover (Madacy)
Horror, Slasher Film, Thriller
Herb Freed Herb Freed
Christopher George Christopher George
Patch Mackenzie Patch Mackenzie
E. Danny Murphy E. Danny Murphy
E.J. Peaker E.J. Peaker
Michael Pataki Michael Pataki

5.0 / 10 - 4 votes

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Review by Tristan
Added: September 14, 2007
Much like the previously reviewed movie Pieces, Graduation Day was discovered by me when I watched the documentary Going To Pieces , as provided by our dear friend and site creator Chad. As I've stated before, I'm a sucker for most trashy 80's slasher films. Naturally this was one in a long list of movies that I had to pick up. One day while perusing the horror section at my favourite used DVD store, I came across this for $4.99. Can't go wrong there. Nothing beats bargain bin prices. So I picked this up along with a few other titles, and sat down to watch my first movie in nearly a month's time. For those of you who are familiar with Troma films, this was released by them a few years ago. However, this is in no way a Troma film. It is your typical slasher film, with all the usual dressings. If you don't mind some bad acting, some sub-par gore, and a weak storyline, you're in for a treat.

Tonight's feature film kicks off with a high school track-meet set to some truly awful music. Laura, the school's star runner is doing the 100-meter dash while being cheered on by her coach Michaels (genre favourite Christopher George). Just after crossing the finish line and beating all the other girls, she falls to the ground in pain in one of the most drawn out "crossing the finish line" sequences I've ever seen. Her team rushes to her side, led by her boyfriend Kevin (E. Danny Murphy), but they are too late - she's already dead. Shortly after, Laura's sister Anne(Patch MacKenzie) comes back to town. It would seem she is in the Navy, and has taken leave to return home to her mother and step-father after her sister's death. As usual, Anne doesn't get along with her mother's new husband and the two immediately exchange words. Immediately afterwards, a young girl is killed while jogging through the woods. The killer, armed with a stopwatch and switchblade uses the track team's old group photo as a guide for who to target next. As the body count rises, it seems more and more that Anne is committing these murders. But anybody who considers themselves a horror fan knows that this is never the case, and there's always a nice twist of some sort to round off your 90 minutes.

I'm not sure where Freed put all the budget, but it certainly wasn't in the special effects department. For the most part, the death scenes were pretty weak. A few neat ideas were sprinkled here and there, but as far as blood and gore...I was disappointed. As always, Christopher George gave us another solid performance. If I'm not mistaken, it was one of his last, as he died about 2 years after this film was released. He's no Christian Bale, but the man knows his stuff, and is very convincing as Coach Michaels.

One of the things I noticed about this director is the way he builds tension with the camera. It's nothing new, he simply makes quick shots from the front, side, and then the killer's POV to build the moment until it climaxes. Works well enough, but it was tired out in the first 10 minutes or so. I'm no director, but I think using your "trademark" shot for every kill in a movie is a little weak.

I wasn't too thrilled with this one. Maybe it's a sign that I should stay away from this type of film, as the last few I've seen have been far from original. It actually had half a shot, until the rollerblading disco dance, which had not only the worst high school band I've ever heard, but an inexcusably lame decapitation scene. It doesn't matter how dark the scene is, you can still see the glisten of a plastic head as it rolls off the shoulders. It is with a heavy heart that I must again give another one of these movies a low(er) score. Like I mentioned earlier, maybe they don't do it for me anymore. A little on screen sex and some horrific violence would have worked wonders for this movie, but in the end, I found it about as boring as Prom Night.

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ThunderStruck5a #1: ThunderStruck5a - added 09/14/2007, 10:04 AM
i also picked this up in a bargain bin, what a coincidence. I thought the endnig was great and well played and the rest of the film was slow. I'm also into the cheesy 80s stuff so i've come to expect weak murders and bad actors so those never seem to bother me.

benloveshorror #2: benloveshorror - added 02/03/2011, 02:55 AM
How did this movie gross 23 million dollars at the box-office? It did better than Prom Night, Terror Train, and some of the entries in the Friday the 13th series.
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