Graduation Day

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Our rating: two lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Graduation Day
"It's called Dianetics, you should try it!"
A quick look around the horror section of any decent video store will reveal many films like Graduation Day. They're high school horror-revenge flicks, inspired by their dishonorable predecessors like Prom Night. Why exactly anyone thought audiences wanted to watch the same story over and over again is beyond guessing, but that didn't stop studios from turning out the same movie dozens of times with different (and usually school-event related) themes and titles.

Graduation Day distinguishes itself from its celluloid colleagues by never actually showing the event in question. Although the events in the movie take place around a high school Graduation Day (parties, rehearsals, last minute exams), we never see anyone graduate. No diplomas, no "Pomp and Circumstance," no grimacing principal in front of an audience -- just a lot of silly music video scenes and a crazed killer bent on eliminating the members of the school track team.

Graduation Day
"Oh my God, Chrissy, he's going to
buy a vowel!"
Our story begins with the accidental death of a young track star, Laura, during a race. Her coach pushes her to the finish line, where a blood clot in her brain leaves her face down on the track. Flash forward to the last days before graduation, when Laura's sister Anne returns to town from her Navy assignment. Coincidentally (?), this is also the period of time when the other members of the track team begin to go missing, one by one.

Anne is in town to attend the graduation to pick up some posthumous honors on Laura's behalf. The weird thing is that she's the closest thing to a main character the film has, yet she disappears from the movie for over forty minutes. The middle part of the film is devoted to murderer's rampage, as the various kids are stalked by SteadicamTM shots and then dispatched. Every movie killer has their preferred killing method, and this one seems to like spikes. The center section of the movie also sets up a bewildering array of suspects for the identity of the killer, including: the coach, Laura's ex-boyfriend Kevin, the school's principal, and a crazy campus cop. Probably the most noteworthy thing about this part of the movie is that it includes a young* Vanna White playing one of the school's students.

Graduation Day
Jerry Lewis gives Quigley some comedy pointers.
The most excruciatingly painful thing about the movie has to be the nearly eight-minute long musical number by a band named Felony. As near as we could tell the name of the song they played was "Gangster Rock," and it goes on forever. Because Felony is playing at a high school function in the 1980s, the students roller-skate around the band as they play. And because Felony is a band in the 1980s, all the members wear heavy female make-up even though they're all guys. At least we hope they were all guys. Felony reminds us of Duran Duran, only less talented. Yes, less talented than Duran Duran.*

So students get killed for a while, and then Anne, after a long absence from the film, confronts the killer. Now if you remember the beginning of the flick, Anne is a Navy officer, so she should kick the untrained killer's ass, right? Well, Anne displays some lame karate chops, but besides that, she displays all the attributes of the final female victim of any horror film. She stumbles and falls for no reason, she mysteriously avoids the safety of other people, and she studiously ignores the weapons that fall out of the killer's hands. So much for the fighting precision of our trained Navy personnel.*

Fortunately, Graduation Day did provide us with two of the important staples of teen horror flicks: copious nudity and improbably complicated death sequences. Providing us with some of that nudity is Linnea Quigley, who practically made a career out of exposing herself in such films. Here she seduces a music teacher into giving her a passing grade. Imagine what she had to do for the math teacher! And since it's the track team that's going down, the deaths are all related to athletic activities. Man, we knew pole vaulting was dangerous, but this is just darn silly.

Graduation Day
Is it Men Without Hats? Is it Boy George?
Is it Felony? Is it Duran Duran?
What is it?!?!

Review date: 8/7/99

This review is © copyright 1999 Chris Holland & Scott Hamilton. Blah blah blah. Please don't claim that it's yours blah blah, but feel free to e-mail it to friends, or better yet, send them the URL. To reproduce this review in another form, please contact us at Blah blah blah blah.

































* Why do we think this is going to be that whole Rutger Hauer thing all over again. Go back!























































* She may be younger here than we're used to seeing her, but she's still too old to be playing a high school student. Go back!























































* A Navy veteran and colleague sent us word that Navy personnel are usually not given much training in hand-to-hand combat unless they're SEALs. Still, Anne makes it clear to her abusive, drunken step-father that she has learned a thing or two about self-defense since she joined the military. Ah well, there's nothing like a little sloppy screenwriting to make a b-movie shine. Go back!