After a high school track runner, named Laura, suddenly dies from a heart attack after finishing a 30-second 200-meter race, a killer wearing a sweat suit and a fencing mask begins killing ... See full summary »
After a high school track runner, named Laura, suddenly dies from a heart attack after finishing a 30-second 200-meter race, a killer wearing a sweat suit and a fencing mask begins killing off her friends on the school track team one by one. The suspects include the track coach Michaels, Laura's sister Anne who arrives in town for the funeral, the creepy school principal Mr. Guglione, and Laura's strange boyfriend Kevin. Written by
The blonde girl in the number 46 track jersey was cut out of the film as much as possible since she was fired due to refusal to fulfill the nudity requirements. Linnea Quigley was hired to replace her. See more »
Laura's jersey number repeatedly changes between 45 and 40 during the opening sequence. See more »
I'll start by saying that I am a huge fan of the slasher movies of the early 1980s; flicks such as "Friday The 13th", "Final Exam" and "The House On Sorority Row" hit the spot rather nicely.
"Graduation Day" was one of the first films in this category. Released in 1981, the plotline tells the story of a track-team star runner who drops down dead after a particularly taxing race. Despite the fact that no-one actually killed her (she fell victim to a blood clot), the blame for her death has rested with the track-team coach for the past six months... it appears he worked her too hard.
The runner left behind a loving boyfriend, a loving sister, a loving mother and a hate-filled stepfather. All of these are reunited on Graduation Day, when the sister is invited to receive a special award on behalf of the deceased star. However, the day before graduation -- and literally minutes after the sister appears on campus -- one of the track team is brutally murdered in the college grounds.
Her body is not discovered immediately, and so the usual pre-graduation celebrations are taking place. But, in between these parties and rehearsals, more of the track team are dispatched in truly original style. Still the bodies remain unfound.
So who is this killer? Is it the sister, jealous of the team who survived her younger kin? Could it be the boyfriend, who only true love was taken when an artery burst in her left leg? Has the coach cracked up, after losing his job and being widely blamed for her death? Or is someone else hiding a terrible secret?
"Graduation Day" is a wonderful movie; full of suspense, above average acting and some ingenious plot twists. Various sub-plots are added in an attempt to cloud your prediction of the killer's identity and the ending comes as somewhat of a shock (it did to me, anyway!). When you consider that this is one of the first "campus slashers", it is rather amazing.
Most movies have a few shortcomings, however, and "GD" is no different. I feel that too many 'false scares' were implemented by the director (the first two or three are genuinely scary, but they get rather tiring after this) and about half way through the film we get a five or ten minute 'drag' period which you feel like fast-forwarding through. On the whole, though, these are certainly not major failings and do not impair the film overall.
In summary, I would recommend "Graduation Day" to anyone fond of whodunit slashers like "Final Exam", "Scream", "I Know.." and "Prom Night". Fans of flat-out gore will likely be disappointed as gore is de-emphasised in the movie, but this is all the better IMHO. And whilst "GD" isn't going to win any Oscars, you could do a whole lot worse if you're looking for a fun, scary and clever horror movie.
8 out of 10, BuffyAngel
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