Director – Herb Freed
Cast – Christopher George, Patch Mackenzie, E. Danny Murphy, E. J. Peaker, Michael Pataki, Richard Balin, Carmen Argeziano, Beverly Dixon, Virgil Frye, Hal Bokar, Denise Cheshire, Bill Hufsey, Linnea Quigley, Karen Abbott, Vanna White
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I had not known of this lesser-known slasher film until recently, and I can tell why…this film is heavily flawed. Surprisingly enough, this flick came off as an enjoyable watch that goes to show that if you follow the slasher “formula” you are sure to please the fans of this iconic sub-genre and deliver a fun watch.
Graduation Day takes place immediately following an incident in which a popular track star falls dead after winning a close and harrowing race. The death of the young star leaves her team in disbelief as they must prepare for their graduation day without her. Unfortunately for the track team and their hard-nosed coach(Christopher George!), someone is not happy about the incident and killing them off one by one. The young star’s sister has come to visit so that she can accept her sister’s diploma, and must now get to the bottom of the killings in order to save her own life as well.
During my little research of this film(too much makes things dull) I had read some bad things about this flick, so I went in with low expectations, and it worked wonderfully. I was given much more than I expected from this 1981 slasher flick, and as I mentioned earlier…it stayed true to “formula”. We have the usual vengeful killer hacking up those he/she feels wronged them in whatever fashion, and does so with the utmost secrecy. Personally, I can never get tired of this plot, and as long as it is moderately executed I can at the very least find myself finding some sort of joy in the flick.
Still on the subject of “formula”…you can expect the usual bad acting, cheezy dialogue, and spotty editing as well, and I dug all of them. Watching a film for “what it is” helps a lot with this flick, and I think that is really what helped me enjoy this film to the extent that I did. I have watched some truly bad films for “what they are” and in the end they were what they were…bad. That is not the case with this film, it is not really a truly bad film, just one that suffers from a few things and that is why it received the rating that it did.
Story-wise I liked that this slasher revolved around sports. With these flicks it is usually some awful prank pulled on a weakling by some bullies or a group of sorority sisters, but in this flick it is simply an unfortunate event that happens and all those surrounding the event must be killed even though they had really had no blame to take. I do not prefer this necessarily because the attacker was never truly “wronged“ which means the vengeance is not true vengeance, but it worked for this film and gave me something different, and I can appreciate that.
I do have to knock this film for its pacing issues, which included some useless and overly long scenes that could and should have been done away with. I was also a bit saddened at how this flick lost “it” with its unsatisfying “revealing” of the killer, and subsequent closing sequences. For a flick that was heading in a good direction for the first 75% of the runtime, it sucked to see it lose steam and head in a less-than-favorable direction.
Overall, this is an OK slasher film that did its job on most areas. Although still heavily flawed, Graduation Day proves that following the slasher “formula” can guarantee a fun watch as long as you are a fan of these types of films.