Everyone in the horror genre, knows of the impact and the glorious years where “slasher movies” reigned as king, an easy money-maker at the box office, fueling wars with the MPAA and while 2020 will mark the 40th-annivrersdary for many of the classics such as Friday the 13th, Prom Night, Terror Train and countless others, it is not the only year and hence the debate rages onward to this day of when the slasher individual year actually existed. I truly believe the debate cannot be settled or answered, if one accepts that a few movies existed in that subgenre before 1980, Black Christmas (1974) and Halloween (1978) then floodgates unleashed countless flicks in 1981 with My Bloody Valentine and The Burning (which reputation tarnish because of one person), Hell Night, and Graduation Day. I feel by 1985, the core of the slasher market found itself on the expiration overload, and briefly resurrected in 1996 with Scream.
The production comes director Herb Freed (Haunts ), while some critics point to his unorthodox background, none it focuses or pertains to his work on this film, and hence I overlook it, rather he helped on the writing credits with David Baughn who originally created the story and Anne Marisse assisted in the writing of the script. The film takes place at La Canada High School in California, on a truly bare bones budget of $250,000 and merely 3-weeks allotted for filming, it impressively made $23-million at the box office, before falling into obscurity, later becoming a discovered gem by the slasher fans, how it often considered at the lower of the spectrum. Numerous distribution companies have handled the rights in the United States from IFI/Scope III with theatrical release and Troma Team Video and then most recently Vinegar Syndrome.
The first five minutes sequence scene gives a clear indication what is the direction of the overall intent, though a lame start and tad cheesy it still gives the viewers some fun. Laura (Ruth Ann Llorens), a high school star track runner, suddenly dies from a heart attack after winning a 30-sec 200-meter race. Then a quick flash forward to months later, just before Graduation Day, and Laura’s sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie (Dark Tower )) arrives in town she’s an ensign in the Navy, and is difficult for her to be at the graduation ceremony for commemorating of her sister. The viewers learn of her strength and attitude by grabbing and twisting the crotch of a sleazy truck driver (Patrick Wright (The Norliss Tapes )) who gave her a lift, and the no-nonsense attitude toward her father. Soon enough a killer wearing a gray sweat suit, black gloves & a fencing mask (which isn’t shown for a little while) begins killing off Laura’s friends on the school track team one by one via POV camera. All experienced horror fans know that the outfit is made more for a red-herring game. A series of suspects come to the forefront as the bodies continue to drop, among them track coach George Michaels (Christopher George (Grizzly )), who has intense anger or perhaps striving desire for winning championship and yet a glint of sexual desire to his female athletes, then high school principal Guglione (Michael Pataki (Dead & Buried )), and one can’t omit Laura’s boyfriend Kevin Badger (E. Danny Murphy). In addition the school has sleaze factors, teachers passing students for their own sexual conquests aside the killer uses fencing grab and a rapier to slaughter their obvious targets… who could it be?
There’s a problem with the plot format, never seen so much activity of seniors doing workouts, pole vaulting, jogging in football shoulder pads, pants with pads on a cross country path at the end of the school-year. As well as seniors standing around for yearbook photos (that’s already printed), okay I’m nitpicking but it shows this is a busy final days. Then a few cast shadows appearing in shots as well cheesy dialogue, humor, and action acceptable of the early 80s, but heavily frowned upon the pc-culture of today. This includes a bit of tomfoolery between the principal and secretary Blondie (E.J. Peaker (The Banker ) and some more frisky teens practicing introductory anatomy courses, while a killer with lame special effects “ a throat slice” – ugh, then decapitation, a lucky series of impalements, an airborne football with a blade on it and the worst (really not) a made up rotting corpse. The credit sequence is designed nicely, using some cracking disco music (from a long-forgotten band called Felony, whose music was also in Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives ) and Linnea Quigley’s inclusion comes from a possible creative disagreement by the original blonde girl in the 46 jersey, as trivia notes, but clearly she never minded as she flashes more than just smile on the camera, remember it’s the T&A that’s wanted in the slasher aside from the blood, and tasty kills.
What is the actual deal, first it’s not an overwhelmingly bad movie, it’s fun, with faults and plot holes to WTF killing scenes, is it slasher must see, no but it has some nostalgic moments. there’s a point when it can be a parody for the kill-fest as in Pool Party Massacre (2017), but this scenario seems more for Freed as if he saw where the almighty dollar earnings were in cinema at the time and hence this high school slash-dash graduation to the box office reaping is what matters.
- The class of ’81 is running out of time.
- Graduating from high school has never been so deadly…
- There are 200 seniors at Midvale High. And seven days till graduation. The class of ’81 is running out of time.
- This is one school you won’t want to graduate from!
- The Midvale Track Team Will Soon Be Running For Their Lives!
- Some kids are dying to graduate…
IMDb Rating: 4.8/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10