Graduation Day

On the eighth day, God said, “Let there be early-80’s exploitation and slasher.” And so it was, and it was good. And then He commanded the good folks at Troma to take a holiday (or any other special occasion) that hadn’t already been pilfered for profits (Friday the 13th, Halloween, Prom Night, Happy Birthday to Me) and make a rollicking awesome slasher flick. And behold! Graduation Day came into the world, fully formed.

Now that I’ve exhausted my questionable metaphors for the day, there’s very little I need to tell you: Poor Laura, Midvale High track star. She’s been pushed to the limit by her sadistic coach (that gleefully awful genre staple, Christopher George) and dies during a meet. The titular day of commencement arrives, and someone starts killing off the rest of the athletes. Laura’s sister arrives in town for the ceremony and tries to uncover the identity of the killer. Who is it? If you don’t figure it out in the first five minutes, you shouldn’t be watching these kinds of films.

Did I say film? Sorry. Graduation Day isn’t a film; it’s a movie, barely, and not a very good one at that. But I don’t care. Why? Because, 1) it features loads of polyester, feathered hair, too-short short-shorts and a catchy disco soundtrack; 2) the acting is so wooden, that to say that the acting is wooden would be an insult to all types of wood; 3) the ladies and gays (like me) will appreciate the cameo by Tom Hintnaus, an Olympic pole vaulter who became famous for his Calvin Klein billboard above Times Square (right); and 4) Linnea Quigley shows her breasts more than once, which is an absolute shocker, since she isn’t known for that sort of thing. *cough* The whole mess drips of 80’s slasher atmosphere, from the gauzy lensing to the gymnast who holds up a Lady Razor and says, “This is for you coach. Sit on it and rotate.” That that line even exists is enough; but for it to exist in a movie titled Graduation Day is a divine miracle.

If you made it this far, then you understand exactly why I have such a passion for this particular era of movie-making; if not, well, you probably stopped reading a long time ago.

1981; starring Christopher George, Patch Mackenzie; directed by Herb Freed; 96 min; R; in English.