Saturday, May 13, 2006

Graduation Day

Spoilers Below

I'm straddling the fence on this little slasher 'epic'. I get the idea that Herb Freed, director -(now there's a name) thought he had himself a slasher gem on his hands. This film takes itself way too seriously, but does deliver on a few levels, albeit mediocre at best.
Good old stand-by Chris George (Pieces, The Gates of Hell,)is an overbearing track and field coach and likes to push his students over the edge. He must have pushed just a little too hard, because one girl decides to 'give up the ghost' during a public track meet, falling over dead from an apparent heart condition [from a race] due to over exhurtion. Uh oh! We just know that someone has got to avenge the death of the girl, and much to our expectations, someone does. Whomever it may be is doing away with people on the track team, donning a sweat suit, giallio-esque black gloves, and a stopwatch. It seems as if the killer times his victims deaths - from the time he spots them, he/she hitting the button, until the murder is over. The haneous killer tries to orchestrate his kills in under thirty seconds, the same amount of time our little female track star had to please the coach's demand for a fast time. (Before she kicked the bucket)
Graduation Day is filled with would-be red herrings, but none of them played out too extensively. The fomulatic layout of the slasher film in the earliest of the 80's was still in its infancy, so-to-speak, so Chris George's character COULD have been conceived as being the killer. (Although we find out later he's not, when he's confronted by the killer)
I'll give Herb Freed SOME credit. I'll not detract from his wanton slasher 'masterpiece'. There are some very Italian-like shots that present themselves in subtle ways throughout the entire film, but it was quiet hard to enjoy my old RCA vhs and its constant glare throughout. It's like watching a movie through a sunlit riddled window, a light haze hovering above everything.
Hey, I almost forgot big sister (who is in the Navy, doesn't get along with her father and is 'tough as nails') and the mock Friday the 13th scene - ala Annie being given a ride by a husky old truck driver, as this time, its the big sister of the fallen track star making her way home for her sisters funeral. Is it big sis in a rage, murdering everyone in her path, via different weapons and black gloves?
We also have 'Kevin'. He's probably one of the ugliest individuals I've ever seen. He looks like someone the casting agents picked up off the streets, decided to shave, and ultimately, give the part as a mourning boyfriend who planned to marry 'track girl' on 'Graduation Day'. To be totally honest, it's not real hard to guess who the killer is. He does have a unique, albeit cheesy way of offing his victims. We have one chic getting murdered in the girls locker-room. The last time I checked, it's pretty much hard to kill someone in a school without getting caught- or- at least blowing their own brains out. Nevertheless, slasher films don't make room for much continuity, so there's not much to pick at if one has conceived this idea from the get-go.
I'm not totally gonna diss Graduation Day. It has its flaws, but it also has its moments. There's some really good chase scenes entwined with some off-beat atmosphere, and a few original murders - Like a spike horizontally stuck through a football, thrown in a perfect Dan Marino spiral directly into its human target -or- the loley pole vaulter lands on a pad full of strategically placed spikes. At least a little bit of thinking went into the death scenes. By some odd means, I find myself watching this one more than I should, even though I don't watch it very much. (Is that a paradox?) Anyway, for the slasher completist like me, this is a must have, simply becuause its Graduation Day. For fans of old 80's horror in general, if you can find it, it's well worth the 99c rental at your local videostore. While you won't get many scares along the way, you'll get a full stomach by getting extra helpings of cheese.


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