Monday, December 26, 2016

Graduation Day

Despite a couple of creative kills, GRADUATION DAY lays near the bottom of the slasher-movie barrel. Well, it has other pluses: genre stalwart Christopher George (THE EXTERMINATOR), future game show wheel-turner Vanna White in a bit part, a topless Linnea Quigley (SAVAGE STREETS), some genuinely amusing comic banter between principal Michael Pataki (NIGHT SHIFT) and his secretary E.J. Peaker (HELLO, DOLLY!), and gore effects created by a woman (THOR’s Jill Rockow), which was unusual at the time.

But despite all of those positive features, GRADUATION DAY is a graduation dud. A high-school track star dies of a blood clot just after breasting the tape in a big meet. The rest of her team gets killed off in various creative and bloody ways just before graduation. Director Herb Freed (TOMBOY) assembles a handful of red herrings, including the girl's Navy ensign sister (Patch McKenzie), her asshole track coach (George), her boyfriend (E. Danny Murphy), and the asshole principal (Pataki). Carmen Argenziano (THE HOT BOX) shows up late in the game as an investigating cop ("You look Lebanese.").

Freed, who also wrote the film with his wife Anne Marisse (HAUNTS), occasionally shows a flair for the material — one chase-and-kill sequence crosscut with rock band Felony playing the energetic “Gangster Rock” borders on greatness — but the killer, who dresses in a fencing mask and gray sweatsuit, is not menacing, and the murders lack suspense. Death by javelin football is pretty good though. George usually put in a solid effort in even the worst junk (PIECES), but he looks tired and annoyed here.

1 comment:

Randy Clark said...

I have fond memories of seeing this movie in a drive-in theater on or near the day the nearby high school did indeed hold its graduation. What appeared to be the entire senior class showed up for the movie. They were throwing Frisbees before the sun set and the movie started and at one point two polite young men asked me whether I would be willing to move my car a little because their Frisbee had landed under it.

You're right; it's not a very good movie but I remember seeing Patch Mackenzie in a few things around that time and thinking she was cool, possibly just because of her name.