73 user 95 critic

Graduation Day (1981)

A masked killer begins murdering students on the school track team after a track runner dies upon completion of a 30 second 200-meter race.


Herb Freed




Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher George ... Coach George Michaels
Patch Mackenzie ... Anne Ramstead
E. Danny Murphy E. Danny Murphy ... Kevin
E.J. Peaker ... Blondie
Michael Pataki ... Guglione
Richard Balin Richard Balin ... Roberts
Carmen Argenziano ... Halliday
Beverly Dixon Beverly Dixon ... Elaine Ramstead
Virgil Frye ... MacGregor
Hal Bokar Hal Bokar ... Ronald Corliss
Denise Cheshire ... Sally Prescott
Bill Hufsey ... Tony (as Billy Hufsey)
Linnea Quigley ... Dolores
Karen Abbott Karen Abbott ... Joanne
Vanna White ... Doris


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 matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Midvale Track Team Will Soon Be Running For Their Lives! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The skating extras in the roller rink were paid five dollars each. See more »


When people run or go in the woody area, shots change the background all the time. See more »


Kevin: You know, Laura was crazy about you. It was always Anne this and Anne that. She idolized you.
Anne Ramstead: She was all I had. Everything's different now.
Kevin: Laura's still with me. She'll always be with me. That'll never change.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the final credits, the killer is shown holding the stopwatch he uses to time his murders. See more »

Alternate Versions

Australian version runs eight minutes longer than the U.S. release. This version was briefly released in the U.S. as a director's cut. See more »


The Killer
by Jeff Spry, Joe Spry & Doug Burlison
Performed by Felony (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

"Graduation Day" - The Definition of 80's Slasher Cheese
29 March 2009 | by captaincrackerSee all my reviews

"Graduation Day" was released in May 1981, during the height of the slasher film craze. Earlier that year, fans had been subjected to flicks like "My Bloody Valentine", "Just Before Dawn", "Friday the 13th Part 2", and "The Burning" and theaters still were expecting flicks such as "Halloween II", "The Prowler", and "Happy Birthday to Me". I have seen all of these films, and out of all the popular 1981 slashers "Graduation Day" is by far the worst.

What "Graduation Day" amounts to is an exercise in poor, low-budget film-making with bad acting, bad writing, pointless characters, pointless scenes, unneeded nudity, cheesy dialogue, and an experiment in editing that didn't work so well. And who could forget the classic 80's disco music that plays throughout the film (the opening scene's music is only rivaled by the music that plays during a chase scene). However when renting a movie like this a person should be aware that those details will be in this film. So why isn't "Graduation Day" considered a classic like "Halloween", "Friday the 13th", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "My Bloody Valentine", "The Burning", or "Prom Night"? Why do fans still seek those films but disregard this without care?

Where slasher films need to succeed above all other areas is in the pacing. There is nothing worse than a slow moving slasher, and "Graduation Day" moves pretty slow. The most aggravating part is that there are plenty of opportunities to speed things up; there are numerous pointless characters who are introduced and who are never allowed the chance to be a suspect in the murders or be a victim. There's a sleazy teacher, a stressed principal, a cunning secretary, a dopey school security guard, a clueless detective, an alcoholic step father, a mindless grandmother, and a mom to an earlier victim still grieving. All of these characters could have a motive to killing or a reason to getting killed, but they are all wasted. The worst part is that the story still focuses on them, and at times designates entire scenes just to flesh out their character. But for what?

What does amaze me about "Graduation Day" and its small fanbase is that people aren't more amazed by the death scenes. Fans go wild for death scenes like the raft massacre in "The Burning", the washing-machine death in "My Bloody Valentine", the kabob death in "Happy Birthday to Me", the upside down death in "Friday the 13th Part 3", and hot tub death in "Halloween II", and even the car hood death in "Madman". But where is the respect for some truly unique (even though cheesy) deaths in "Graduation Day". One victim gets impaled right through the jugular with a fencing sword, while another gets that sword thrown at them like a javelin. The best death includes spikes under a landing mat. Why aren't these deaths famous among the genre like the deaths in more popular slasher films?

"Graduation Day" tries hard to be a great and unique film, but there is just an element of logic and pacing missing that really ruins the whole experience. Its not the worst of its kind (try checking out "Don't Go in the Woods... Alone") and there is a bit of suspense, plus it delivers just what fans are looking for (blood, gore, nudity, sex, and nostalgia) but "Graduation Day" will not be remembered as one of the all time greatest slasher films ever made. It's not a question of budget - almost all slashers have a low-budget - however it is a question of ideas, creativity, and craftsmanship. That's all any type of movie making is...

Recommended for hardcore slasher fans. General horror fans might get a little bored, and people who don't have much interest in horror at all should steer clear. It's not the worst slasher film ever made, but its a long way from being the best.

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Official Sites:






Release Date:

1 May 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Graduation Day See more »

Filming Locations:

Pasadena, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$250,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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