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Graduation Day (1981)

R | | Horror, Mystery | 1 May 1981 (USA)
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.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Coach Michaels
... Anne Ramstead
E. Danny Murphy ... Kevin
... Blondie
... Guglione
Richard Balin ... Roberts
... Halliday
Beverly Dixon ... Elaine Ramstead
... MacGregor
Hal Bokar ... Ronald Corliss
... Sally
... Tony (as Billy Hufsey)
... Dolores
Karen Abbott ... Joanne
... 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


Graduating from high school has never been so deadly... See more »


Horror | Mystery


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 May 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Colegio infernal  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$250,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$460,000, 12 January 1982

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At the time of the film's release, there was a backlash from critics against the overabundance of slasher films being made. In a form of protest, many critics refused to review any horror movies in hopes that the lack of print publicity would have a negative impact on the films' profits. As a result, Graduation Day did well upon its premiere in Los Angeles (which coincided with many schools' graduation), but not as well on the East Coast, where it received no reviews from critics whatsoever. See more »


After the pole vaulter is impaled, the following panning shot shows the spike attached to his stomach moving as he breaths. See more »


Ronald Corliss: Why didn't you call us at the airport? I'd have picked you up.
Anne Ramstead: I got here all right.
Ronald Corliss: Yeah. I can see that.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014) See more »


The Winner
by Lance Owg, Gabriel Rohels and David Cole
See more »

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User Reviews

Not your average 80s slasher pic...
7 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

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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