88 films is has been busy of late compiling an extremely exciting schedule of releases all of which fit into their ‘Slasher’ collection. Whilst all of the releases have not been finalised, rest assured the roster is going to feature all those movies we love from the 80s, some of which suffocated under the volume of releases at the time. Without a doubt you are going to both rediscover long lost loves, and potentially make some new ones!
The collection gets off to a fantastic start, with the thematically appropriate ‘Graduation Day’. The movie kicks off with a race, filmed in slow motion, edited together to give us the same footage about 10 times! - The nostalgia comes flying back! The concept of the film hinges on this scene, however, as a young runner ‘Laura’ collapses and dies during this 30 second, 200m race. From here on in we are introduced to the running team, the overbearing coach (who incidentally most people blame for the incident) and the sister of the deceased, who comes back from Navy deployment to claim a graduation tribute on behalf of her sister. In other words, a whole host of people who all have motive for what ensues.
Predictably enough the murders start on the eve of the graduation day with the athletics team chosen as the movies victims. The killer chooses to dress as a fencing competitor to hide his (or her) identity as he stalks and slashes with reasonable efficiency throughout the movies run time. In terms of slasher killers this one was not likely to make the franchise status most hoped for, but thankfully, despite the rather drab getup, the killer makes use of a range of weapons to dispatch the hapless (and often witless) victims.
The gore in this movie ranges from tame, to fairly horrific. There is no mention of any particular SFX maestro on the credits but the gore doesn’t disappoint. Admittedly not every kill is a bloodbath, but there are some nice memorable numbers, the pole-vaulters death in particular springs to mind - if you will forgive the pun.
The body count is fairly substantial, so pace isn’t an issue, but one criticism of the movie, and one which is most commented on by its rather limited fan-base is that it brings no new ideas to the table. At the time most movies at least attempted some form of new formula or ‘twist’ to the genre (admittedly some to greater effect than others), but ‘Graduation Day’ prefers to recycle. This is most evident in its final scenes which you will easily liken with the movies more successful peers as the source of ‘inspiration’. In addition to this, there is a fair amount of padding, oddly in the form of musical scenes. Now this is going to be subjective, personally I found it quirky, but there are several ‘extended’ scenes in the movie which could easily have been halved and maintain effect. As I’ve said, I thought they were quite amusing from a nostalgic perspective, but there is no denying there was probably not enough material to make this movie last the full 90!
Overall however, looking past its technical shortcomings and you are treated to a cleaned up, uncut release of a half decent move on Blu-ray. It’s the start of a very promising collection, and whilst ‘Graduation Day’ is unlikely to sit high on anyone’s list, it is a fantastically typical 1980s slasher and a great example to start your collection with.