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Monday, May 30, 2011

GRADUATION DAY


Sorry for the quality. Of the picture and the film

STATS:
1981
Directed by Herb Freed
Written by Herb Freed, Anne Marisse, and David Baughn
Starring: Patch Mackenzie, E. Danny Murphy, and other teens who look like they’re a hard thirty

Doesn't this photo remind you of It's Pat

WHA’ HAPPENED?
A young track stars drops dead after winning a race, and now a gloved killer is wandering the campus picking off the other track stars, who don’t seem to get the hint that they shouldn’t wander around alone. It’s a who-done-it without any clues.

I always suspect the guy in the ascot. That's
probably why I'm usually surprised
at the end of Scooby Doo.

WHAT YOU SAY?
“You have lovely eyes. My sister had eyes like yours. She’s dead now.”

“You like snakes? I call this my little cobra.”

Though not exactly a quote, I did enjoy this little caption. I’ll let it speak for itself:

Why did the director focus on this sign?
It has nothing to do with anything.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
Well, I’ve been waiting for months to review a movie like this: a pure, brainless slasher. (And I do mean brainless. At one point, our heroine flees through a clearly populated suburb and runs straight into the empty school. Because she is stupid.)
And she runs like a special person.

It would be completely disingenuous on my part to write a horror movie blog and not include awful 80s slashers. I’m talking about holiday-themed cash-grabs like Silent Night, Deadly Night and New Years Evil, which is so bad that it doesn’t even include an apostrophe in its stupid title. Technically, graduation day isn’t a holiday, per se (except for me, as I gleefully danced on the grave of my high school experience), but it has the same exploitative stench to it. God I love these movies.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
There is some nudity, but strictly of the female variety, though we do get some welcome early-80s bulges:


To highlight how this film (and by extension all similar slashers) treats its T and A quota, let’s look at one of its many death scenes: A teenage gymnast does gymnastics on the uneven bars in slow motion whilst opera music plays. The adult male characters leer at her accordingly. In the next scene, she’s stripping down in the locker room when the killer comes with a big, phallic fencing sword and pokes her to death.

This example illustrates the titillation/death/titillation/death pattern of this movie and countless others. That’s why most of the victims are female and barely clothed.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
See above.

PLOT HOLES AND CRAZINESS:
Like 100% of slasher films from this era, Graduation Day ends with one final shocker. The main girl is asleep in her bed when the killer (still bleeding through his chest wounds) comes back in holding a knife… Wait. It wasn’t the killer. It was just… her drunk father about to hit her with a bottle? Okay. All better.

And that, my friends, is how to end a film.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Much like the similar picture Prom Night, Graduation Day has its own theme song: Graduation Day Blues. Interestingly, the singalong scene is immediately followed by another musical number which has nothing to do with anything. It’s catchier, but irrelevant. Can you say filler?

This film is produced (or at least distributed) by Troma Studios, the company behind the Toxic Avenger and various other horror movies with inappropriate humor. Is it just a coincidence that Troma rhymes with “soma,” the pleasure drug from Brave New World? Yes. Yes it is.

Here is a butt:


OK. IS IT GAY?
When the film opens, my first thought was, “Oh my God. This is really gay!” It starts with a young male athlete holding balls…


…Then there’s the title accompanied by disco music. Cha-ching, right? I thought it would be an hour and a half of thirty-somethings in short-shorts running around playing teens in short-shorts.

Alas, the very next scene shows the cheering crowd at a track meet, and we get close-ups of a young fan basically climaxing over someone else’s race.


At that point, I realized this film wasn’t intentionally gay or straight. It was just weirdly sexual and inept.

Sure, there are some lesbian undertones. For example, there’s a scene where the gruff army cadet lady follows a girl into the woods, confronts her, compliments her eyes, and starts fondling her necklace. It’s meant to make her seem suspicious and other-y, but it’s just kind of dumb.

For the most part, though, the cast is rounded out by adult males who treat their underage female students like kibble, bits, and meat. The principal tells his assistant to be “quick like a bunny,” the music teacher stays late to serenade his students, and the track coach leers a lot. Sure, they all get their comeuppance, but so do the women who, for the most part, are never guilty of anything. There are some very muddled morals here, as is typical of this genre.

So what’s my verdict? Graduation Day isn’t gay; it’s just very 80s and sexual and dumb. So let’s give this two Christopher Atkins and a Steve Guttenberg.



One final thought: if there were any gay men on set, then they wouldn't have chosen mustard yellow graduation gowns. Just saying.

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