Saturday, 2 November 2013



This is as ropey and routine an early 80s teen slasher movie as you'll see: such a sub-par slab of stabby nonsense that one honestly starts to question the blanket ideal of film preservation. Couldn't we let this one go? It's not really worth keeping around for future generations, and they won't thank you for it. Even by the third-tier teenkill standards of films like Madman, Hell Night and Terror Train it's flat and dull, the characters mostly uninteresting and hard to care about. Expectations aren't high anyway, given the Troma distribution logo at the start, and they're not met.

A mad killer is bumping off members of the college athletics squad, following the accidental death of one of the runners who was pushed too far by the tyrannical Coach (Christopher George). As Graduation Day approaches, the girl's sister flies home from her Army posting in Guam to investigate, but who could it be? The sleazy music teacher and part-time nightclub entertainer who wears a bad wig and is humping one of his pupils (Linnea Quigley)? One of the other members of the track team? Coach? The principal (who's humping his secretary in his spare time)? The answer will not surprise you.

It's not the film's fault that the DVD quality is about videotape standard, but a pristine 35mm screening at a top West End cinema couldn't make this nonsense any less unbearable. Yes, it makes for a nice moment that the pole vaulter gets killed by landing on a mattress that's been filled with sharp metal rods, but it does rather depend [1] on the mad killer being able to swap the mattresses around without anyone noticing, [2] our victim deciding to practise on this particular morning, and [3] no-one else having a go at the vault first. And even back in 1981 we were already wearily familiar with the Final Girl scenario where she blunders around tripping over body parts and finding corpses all over the place.

Most of the movie is dull and tiresome, you've seen it all before and invariably much better. Despite the presence of Christopher George, it's no Pieces and Pieces is no masterpiece anyway. Really, Graduation Day's one claim to fame is probably as the weirdest namechecking of legendary soundtrack composers Bernard Herrmann, Alex North and Pino Donaggio: their names are written on the music room's blackboard. But if I'm more interested in what's chalked up on the wall behind the actors than in the dialogue and the characters, then the drama really isn't working, is it? Rubbish.


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