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Lonnie? It's all over now.
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At least for this entry in this seasonal horror series things are taken in an awfully wild new direction. Gone is the tastelessness and dark humour of the first movie, the camp quality of the silly second movie, and the surreal nature of the third. For entry # 4, screenwriter Woody Keith and director Brian Yuzna go for utter strangeness - as well as the gross-out - in their story. An ambitious, stubborn wannabe reporter, Kim (pretty Neith Hunter) determines that she'll solve the mystery of a young woman's bizarre suicide - which may have involved spontaneous human combustion, treating her boyfriend Hank (Tommy Hinkley) like crap in the process. And therein lies one of the problems with "Initiation": its protagonist is so surly, with such a big chip on her shoulder, that she's very hard to follow as a main character, and while attractive, Hunter isn't much of an actress, so it's up to the story and supporting characters to keep things interesting. Among all the trappings are a barrage of insects, maggots, and the ghoulishly fun "surrealistic" makeup effects of the great Screaming Mad George, who'd done such memorable work on "Society", Yuzna's directing debut. To top it all off, the supporting cast includes one of the big screen's all time great creators of oddness and creepiness, Mr. Clint Howard, who's a hoot every time he pops up on screen. In something of a nod to past entries, he plays a man named Ricky. The amusing selection of actors also includes Allyce Beasley of 'Moonlighting' fame as Kim's friend Janice, lovely Bond girl Maud Adams as the alluring and enigmatic Fima, Ben Slack, the psychiatrist in "Society", as Hank's prejudiced dad, Yuzna's own son Conan as Hank's kid brother Lonnie, and "Phantasm" series star Reggie Bannister in a highly entertaining turn as Kim and Hank's boss at the newspaper. Things get off to a pretty good start with those stylized opening credits, and Richard Band's music is another plus. What's truly ridiculous is how the makers of these movies seem always obliged to include any sort of archive footage, as scenes from SNDN 3, "Better Watch Out" play out on a TV screen. Also, the story here has little to do with the holiday; it merely happens to take place at Christmastime. It's entertainingly bonkers stuff, that admittedly one could view as being anti-feminist. But if all of this still intrigues the potential viewer, and they're happy to not see a single killer Santa in sight, they might want to check this out. Six out of 10.
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