Thursday, May 5, 2011

(Sort of) Holiday Horror: Graduation Day (1981)

After movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th were introduced to the world, it seemed like every holiday or otherwise special day (birthday, prom... you get it) was up for grabs to be made into a horror film. Some were pretty good, others boringly bad. Graduation Day is one of the bad ones.

The movie begins with several badly composed shots of high school kids competing in a track meet. This culminates in one girl, Laura, from our home team crossing the finish line first - and then dropping dead of a blood clot. Not too long later, it is almost graduation day for the rest of Laura's team and her sister Anne comes back into town for the ceremony. But before the big day, several team members are systematically hunted down and killed.

To put it straight to you, I didn't like this movie. At all. It's like super ultra low budget, has the typical cheesy acting like most of these movies have, and the kill quotient barely even registers on my enjoyability scale. Usually there's some element about these movies that makes it fun to watch but with this one I was just counting the minutes until it was over.

The wannabe-editor in me had huge problems with this movie. The first scene that plays with the credits, where Laura dies during the race, has more cuts and edits than any one film should have in its entire duration.

Almost worse than the short-attention-span editing is how some of the cuts make our characters like Superman. In one shot, somebody is behind a door in the locker room and in the next one, he is crouched by the bench IN the locker room. Dang, that was one mad dash. Later on, when Anne is running from the killer (whoops, gave it away, she's not the killer - oh well) and ends up at the high school track, they make it a point to have an aerial shot of the track, showing that nobody is even close to  Anne when she finally collapses on the steps. Then, a few seconds later, the killer is right there! Holy shit, he really is Superman!

Sidenote: I'm not believing that Anne could get so winded when she wasn't running for that long. She's in the military. Shouldn't those people be able to run for days or something without even breaking a sweat?

Despite the crazy editing, the film feels unbelievably boring and drawn out. Just about the time I felt like this crap had gone on long enough, I checked how much longer I had to put up with it and found out that there were still 34 minutes left. Oi.

The kills are lackluster. You've seen it before, you'll see it again. A couple stabbings and impalings, all with hardly a drop of blood or any kind of scare moment before the killer strikes. The only good kill was on the guy who was practicing pole vaulting and landed on a crash pad full of spikes. That one was nice. What also kind of irked me about the death scenes was the fact that all the actors playing dead bodies really sucked. They were all BREATHING! You can't hold your breath for five seconds while they get the dang shot?!

The music in this movie - along with being performed by people who were probably tone deaf - was oftentimes far too loud. Having to turn the volume down for those scenes and then back up for the next scenes where people were actually talking was very annoying. This problem is the worst in the chase scene that is interspersed with shots of people rollerskating and some really whacked out band performing. Nothing can be heard from the actors in the chase part and I get the intent with this editing choice - juxtaposition and all that jazz - but I've rarely seen the technique executed so badly. Shame.

Sorry to any die-hard Graduation Day lovers out there, but there was nothing about this movie that I found even the least bit enjoyable.


  1. One of the main problems of the films is the sound, very annoying for instance when many people talk at the same time and of course the Rock music. The performance of the actors is very poor also, but still it is kind of nice effort inside the average slasher movies, with several suspects on the road. Anyway I would give this a 4/10...

  2. Basically a terrible movie but I totally enjoyed all the amusing kills :)

  3. Is this the one with the football attached to the sword?