Being the first in the Slasher Classics Collection BD release series, 88 Films shows with Herb Freed’s Graduation Day that even a run-of-the-mill horror flick can entertain.
(USA 1981, director: Herb Freed)
High school trackrunner girl dies from exhaustion, and soon someone takes revenge on the team and coach.
How original can killing sequences in slasher movies get and how creepy do the stalkers become? If it were up to this flick, the genre wouldn’t have progressed that much. Despite some campy death scenes which are more laughable than provocative because of the acting or camera work (point of discussion: an arrow clearly being held by one hand and the camera in another), there isn’t much here that hasn’t been made or seen before.
Starting with a rather uninteresting cast of annoying teenagers who’re not memorable at all and only slice & dice fodder, the identity of the killer is already obvious right from the start. The dull conversations are only broken up by some very long music scenes, one a particular “highlight” with over 7 minutes playtime. Granted, it’s an interesting way of juxtaposing murder sequences and the fun other people are having on the dance floor. But it just takes too long. This can already be seen at the beginning with disco music and poor editing in the shots which are nauseatíngly fast.
However, the movie delivers what a slasher movie should: a high body count, gratuitous nudity, bad dialogue, and a simple story. It also has an interesting social criticism aspect to it when showing how far certain people go to reach fame or train teenagers to death. It’s certainly no masterpiece and there are other “classics” worthier to remember, but as it is, Graduation Day is fun to watch and it has a catchy soundtrack (even if the songs’ length could have been shorter).
What makes the purchase still recommended is the loving care 88 Films has put into the release, not only by including a reversible cover and a short essay booklet, but also having the feature length documentary Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed. In addition, there’s an intro and music video by Lloyd Kaufman (yes, the man behind independent trash company Troma, as this movie is also a release by them, which explains some of the more ropey acting), more trailers, interviews and a fun Tromatic Filmmaking Classroom feature.
Taking into account how old the movie is, it also looks surprisingly good with its 4K restoration, although the sound is pretty abysmal with a mono track full of a constant noise problem. Still, as a first release, this is a great package and worth getting for the bonus features alone.
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