Horror, Slasher

Graduation Day (1981)

Comments Off on Graduation Day (1981) 25 October 2014

grad day blu ray

Studio: Vinegar Syndrome

Theatrical Release: May 1, 1981

Blu Ray Release: September 9, 2014

Director: Herb Freed


Review by James Klein

After the box office success of Friday the 13th in 1980, the cinemas were filled to the brim with the next cheap slasher film that capitalized on a certain date: Mother’s Day, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, Prom Night, New Years Evil, Silent Night, Deadly Night as well as the sequels to Friday the 13th and Halloween. Even the most cheapest, lamest, ridiculous slasher film would make a profit and become a hit. And that is the category in which Graduation Day falls under.

The UN-intentionally funny opening begins with a track meet where we see close ups of women’s buns and men in short shorts, played over some awful feel good 80’s music. As the track coach (played by genre fav Christopher George) screams for his star athlete Elaine to run faster during a race, she collapses at the finish line, dead.

graduation day

Months later, her older sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie) comes back from the navy to investigate what happened to her sister. She arrives right when the students are ready to graduate and that is when the bodies start to pile up. There is a killer on the loose who keeps a copy of the track team’s photograph, crossing their faces off one by one once they are killed. For some reason, the killer is dressed in a fencing uniform whose choice of weapon is a fencing sword. Not sure what the point or meaning is behind this costume as it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot nor is it scary in any way. However, if you are looking for anything coherent in this dreck…

graduation  day

Graduation Day does provide some laughs from some of the poorly written dialog and cheap production values (the ADR work is rather amusing). The reveal of the killer is also obvious whose normal demeanor is suddenly changed to a raving lunatic, thus providing some laughs. Even the bloodletting is rather tame although there is a decent beheading and a rather neat kill of a pole vault player landing on spikes. Best news here for us pervs is that there are ample amounts of breasts (thank you Linnea Quigley) flopping around for those to enjoy as well as a young Vanna White showing up briefly.

Michael Pataki

Vinegar’s blu ray looks rather decent but the film print has seen better days as the picture does have some print damage. The fog filters that were used in most 80’s horror films doesn’t help, thus making the entire movie look soft and at times out of focus. It was nice to see the fully uncut version of the film in it’s original aspect ratio of 1:85:1 presented here for the first time. The mono soundtrack is fine with all of the ridiculous dialog heard loud and clear.


Vinegar does supply a wide range of special features though which fans of the low budget slasher film will enjoy. There are two commentary tracks; one by producer David Baughn and the other by the publication The Hysteria Continues. There are also several interviews with director Freed, star Mackenzie, producer Baughn and the editor Martin Jay Sadoff. Also included is the well edited trailer that I found better than the actual movie. It’s a fast paced trailer with punk music by Felony, thus making the film look like an action packed horror film. Ahhh, the magic of editing.

grad day

For only the most hardcore fans of 80’s slasher films, Graduation Day doesn’t pass.

Movie Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★½☆

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