Graduation Day (1981) Poster

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Vanna White and Linnea Quigley -- together at last!
BillyBC21 September 2002
(** out of *****) Yet another school-related slasher -- this time a high school track team is the target of a psycho decked out in fencing garb who seems to be upset over the fact that a girl collapsed and died on the track a year ago. Of course, everyone's a suspect, including the girl's odd, but tough, older sister, Anne (Patch Mackenzie), who's home from the Marines (or army, or whatever) to accept a post-humous award for her, and the hard-ass track coach (Christopher George), who most everyone blames for the girl's death. There are some fairly creative murders (including a lethal football with a sword shoved through it), but it's difficult to tell who the main character is, because Mackenzie disappears from the movie for about twenty-five minutes! Meanwhile, we're treated to typical incompetent principals (Michael Pataki), typical lecherous music teachers, and typical jerk security guards. There are a number of minor sub-plots that never get resolved and only work to slow the movie down. Still, it was nice to see an entire stage performance from the rock band Felony (I've never heard of them either.) The direction shows some attempts at style here and there -- it doesn't always work, but it never hurts to try, I guess.

HIGHLIGHT: This is probably worth renting if only for the fact that it's probably the only time you'll ever see game show co-hostess Vanna White and B-movie scream queen Linnea Quigley sharing screen time (albeit, all too briefly) ... and their names even rhyme -- Doris and Dolores! God help me, but I get a satisfying little kick out of things like that.
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"They're Animals! I Swear, They Get Worse From Year To Year!"...
azathothpwiggins11 September 2018
GRADUATION DAY starts off at a high school track and field competition, where a runner named Laura Ramstead (Ruth Ann Llorens), drops dead after winning a race. Soon thereafter, a mysterious figure is hunting down and killing the school athletes. At the same time, Laura's older sister, Ann (Patch Mackenzie) arrives in town for the titular event. Could there be some other reason for her return? As for other possible suspects, there's an entire school of red herrings to choose from. Especially, the explosive, overbearing coach Matthews (Christopher George- PIECES), who yells his lungs out at every opportunity. In fact, all of the adults in this movie are either leches, idiots, or lecherous idiots! The students aren't much better! They're as ridiculous as the means of their deaths, which include: death by sword, spikes, and football! Watch for Linnea Quigley (SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) as Dolores, who instantly sheds her top, as in most of her projects. Also, look quick and you'll see Vanna White in designer jeans! WARNING: This movie contains intense "roller boogie" scenes, and 80's "rock music" being played! Don't worry though, because there's not one second of this movie that can be taken seriously! Nope, not at all. Co-stars Michael Pataki (GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE) as the insufferable Principal Guglione...
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They don't make movies like this anymore...
peterokeeffe127 September 2003
If you love late seventies and early eighties horror/terror/thriller/slasher flicks, this one is a must see. It is in the same league as "Prom Night" and "Hell Night". "Graduation Day" captures a feeling, a mood, a place in time that only exists in the imagination. The music, the acting, the camera work, the characters are a way we can remember 1981. Movies simply don't have the qualities of "Graduation Day" anymore. There are rough edges here. There are simple characters and characters that are not fully developed. Is Ann, the victim's sister, a lesbian? This is only touched on a little during the story. Why doesn't the police office who investigates the disappearance of the victims dislike schools? How did the principal and his secretary begin their affair and what keeps it going? A scene in which a beheading takes place is intercut with a girl rollerskating who likes a lot like the Alice character from "Friday the 13th". As the initiated know, Alice beheaded Mrs. Voorhees. Was this scene a nod to "Friday the 13th"? Has anyone noticed this scene? What happened to Kevin's parents? Does he live alone with his crazy grandmother? They really don't make them like this anymore. I'm not sure if anyone even tries. "Scream" was said to have paid homage to "Graduation Day" and several other movies of that era. I am going to watch it again while keeping that statement in mind. "Graduation Day" is the real deal. Of all the "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" clones it is one of the highest caliber. Christopher George, Patch McKenzie and the guy from "Fame" (I think) lend star quality. Today's independent films try to capture the spirit of movies like this.
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Typical 80s slasher flick but still a must see by default!
capkronos6 May 2003
GRADUATION DAY is not a "good" or original film by any stretch, but it has plenty that others of its ilk do not and is pure entertainment from start to finish!

Laura, a young high school track star, accidentally dies, prompting someone to start killing off the entire team for revenge. The black-gloved and sweatsuited killer keeps a picture of the team in a locker to X out the faces of those dead and kills characters in very silly ways (a pole vaulter jumps on spikes, a lanced football, a fencing sword through the neck...) So, who exactly is responsible? Just take a look at THIS roster of suspects (whew!):

Could it be Christopher George as high-pressure a$$hole coach George Michaels? E. Danny Murphy as Laura's disgruntled, harmonica-playing boyfriend? Michael Pataki as the school principal, who cuts an apple with a switchblade? Patch MacKenzie as the dead girls butch marine sister, Anne? E.J. Peaker as harried secretary Blondie? Vanna White (!) as a giggly blonde who discovers a corpse in a locker? Linnea Quigley as a pot-smoking teen tramp who blackmails the horny music teacher? Carmen Argenziano as a lurking detective? Virgil Frye as a narking, slow-witted cop? With this crew, is it possible to watch and NOT be entertained?

Make sure you don't overlook the THREE long musical numbers, disco roller skating sequence and flash editing cuts that make you think you're on speed. I think I like it!
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Not your average 80s slasher pic...
buffyangel7 July 2001
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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For 80s Slasher Completists Only
FilmFatale18 July 2005
Pretty lame and awful slasher about someone killing the members of a high school track team after their star runner dies during a meet.

Christopher George gives a hilariously over-the-top performance as the track team's coach. I don't think ANYONE has ever taken track and field as seriously as Chris does here - not even in the Olympics. It's a typically divine CG performance, and if you are a fan of the man/the legend, you should run right out and grab a copy.

But we watch slashers for the murders (you know it's true), not the performances, and Graduation Day fails to deliver on most counts (there is one really good kill). True horror only comes during a performance by the band "Felony". Never heard of 'em? Watch Graduation Day and find out why.
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acidburn-1013 April 2007
To be honest I was very disappointed with this movie, I was hoping for something a little better. I was willing to dismiss all the bad reviews and watched this movie anyway It's admittedly better than the 1984 turkey Fatal Games, which had a similar plot about gymnastic athlete students killed in a high school but fact is that the first real memorable and successful high school slasher flick was the one making fun of them all - Scream in 1996.

The major problem with this movie is the lack of characterization. You often just throw in some good-looking teens in a group and most of them doesn't have their first line until their big moment, that is such dramatic dialogue like "Hello?" or "Who's there?" You get the drill. In this one it's not clear who's the hero or heroine until the last 20 minutes or so. And when it comes to the suspects, they get less screen time than the victims. When the killer's identity is revealed it's just a big "So?"

But there were a few characters that I found enjoyable in this movie like Linnea Quigley who has a small role in this movie but has fun with it, and the main heroine Anne (Patch MacKensie) which at first was kinda boring until she performs kung fu on the killer towards the end which was brill, and the Principil and the Secretary sub plot was enjoyable too.

The murders are OK but nothing specialSo, this isn't very good but is still fair if very forgettable entertainment. It gets going though for some moments in the climax even if all intentions of scares are ruined by the fact that it's played in broad daylight.
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If you take it for just a tongue in cheek slasher, it's not that bad...
RareSlashersReviewed6 March 2004
Graduation Day almost came close to being the first horror movie that I ever saw. In the area where I grew up, there were two local video-shops just meters away from each other. One of them was as strict as a nazi head teacher and wouldn't let the eleven year old little-me rent out any 18 rated movies. Luckily, the other guy just wanted to see the colour of your money no matter how old you were, and that's where I spent most of my weekly pocket money! Whilst looking at the ex-rental films for sale, I found this eye catching hand-drawn cover, which was graced with a warning sticker that threatened, '85 minutes of sheer terror whodunit!' Now when you're that young and in-experienced, those words sound extremely intriguing and even rebellious, because I knew that I was doing something that I wasn't yet lawfully supposed to. I took it up to the counter and five minutes later the big sweaty guy returned and told me that the tape had been damaged and he no longer had it. My little world had been shattered, so I asked if I could keep the box for future reference and disappointedly headed home. Around that time, the movie had been deleted and it seemed more likely that I'd find the body of Jimmy Hoffa in my lunchbox than eventually get to view the damned thing. The more I looked at the box-art that promised ‘… Grisly, gruesome murders' and terror beyond my wildest dreams, the more I longed to find out if it could truly be as ‘terrifying' and ‘grisly' as the beguiling blurb had made out. My curiosities never died and some seven years later, when I first learned of Video-search agencies, this was one of the first movies that popped into my head to track down. Finally I managed to get hold of a gleaming copy, knowing that it would have to be an unsurpassed masterpiece to play up to the strong expectations that seven years had built up in my overactive imagination. The point that I'm trying to make is that I hold a lot of sentimentality for Graduation Day, so excuse me if you think that I'm mad after you've read this review…!

The first sequence was like a bizarre sportsman's dream. A load of budding athletes hop, skip, run and jump in synchronised timing with a disco tune that makes Abba sound like the most cerebral band on the planet. Tactfully, the lyrics say something about ‘everybody wanting to be the winner'. (Get it, athletes and winners?) Director Herb Freed does some of his trademark quick-time cutting that's fast enough to make Mark Goldblatt blush. It's a technique that was evident in his previous offering, Beyond Evil, and the first time that I saw it, I was very impressed. Graduation Day is just overflowing with the method, which involves chopping two scenes together consistently until they build up to a climax. Good once, but after the fifteenth time I was beginning to wonder how much more he could possibly milk the idea. Here he chops between footage of shot put, hurdles, gymnastics and an audience that were clearly watching something completely different. The camera finally settles on one event, the 100-meter dash and a sprightly young teen called Laura Ramstead bursts into an amazing lead. Cheered on by her Coach (Christopher George), the youngster sprints over the finishing line, leaving the opposition more or less at the starting post! Pandemonium breaks loose in the stands, but the runner screams in pain before falling to the floor. Her track team rush to the rescue, led by her boyfriend, Kevin (E. Danny Murphy), but sadly they're too late – she's already dead. Next up we meet her elder sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie), who's taken leave from the Navy to visit Midvale high and collect Laura's trophy at the Graduation ceremony. Almost as soon as she arrives in town, a jogger is murdered by an unseen someone with a switchblade and a stopwatch. Soon all the members of the track team begin suffering unfortunate demises at the hands of the hooded assassin, who crosses their faces off of a group-photo with bright red lipstick. It begins to look suspiciously like Anne is inflicting her military training on the hapless students, but if you've seen more than one slasher movie, you'll know that there's bound to be a twist in there somewhere…

I do agree that Graduation Day is probably the daftest of all the period slashers. However, I must confess, that I really don't think that it's all that awful. I know, I know, you must think I'm crazy, but watching it last night whilst taking notes for this review, I actually rather enjoyed myself. It managed to keep me interested and the cheesy thrills make a worthy alternative to competent horror. Christopher George turns out a decent performance and the jesting banter between B-movie vet Michael Pataki and Broadway star E.J. Beaker actually works. Admittedly it looked as if screenwriter David Baughn was stuck in the Rock Hudson/Doris Day era, but as light comic refreshment, they made a good job of it. Even the youngsters weren't all that bad, you'll spot a young Linnea Quigley and an infamous early appearance from Vanna White, who spends most of her screen time screaming unconvincingly!

Herb Freed has tried to include everything that was in vogue in 1981. There's a roller-disco, loads of ear-bashing heavy metal and the surviving girl even fends off the killer using (somewhat lame) martial arts, which was pretty hot stuff at the time. (Oh, the days of the ninja!) The direction was somewhat sluggish, but the scene in which the hooded-killer sneaks along a window behind an unsuspecting victim was impressive and some of the music was quite neatly produced.

The Graduation party is by far the most annoying ten minutes ever filmed. A musical group by the name of ‘Felony' takes centre stage at the disco, where teens whiz round in circles on roller skates! They are truly the worst ‘rock' band that I've ever heard in my whole entire life. With their faces painted like seventies glamsters Kiss, they sing a painful song called ‘Gangster Rock', which is no shorter than seven minutes long and just repeats the same verse and chorus over and over again! They're terrible, with a singer that has extreme vocal limitations and not even a decent song for him to attempt to sing. They seriously ruined an otherwise comical sequence that includes Quigley being pursued by the psycho in a fencing mask. Joseph Zito said on his commentary for The Prowler that all the slasher directors were competing to find the scariest mask after Michael Myers' fearful Shatner impression. Quite what made these guys dig out a Fencing visor was somewhat dubious, but it must've impressed John Ottman, because he ‘borrowed' it for his Urban Legend follow up!

It looks as if Freed blew his entire budget on the actors and hiring that abysmal rock band, leaving him with nothing to spend on effects. The gore scenes are so fake that they're derisory, including perhaps the worst decapitation that I've ever seen. Look out for the blatant dummy that's supposed to be a corpse, hanging on the door at the end of the movie. In one murder, a teen is killed by an American football with a sword stuck through the middle. The killer throws it from quite a distance and it manages to slice straight through his stomach. Now that's some throw!

Ok so if you've done your research then you've probably already found out what most people think of Graduation Day. If you're unsure, then trust them, because my opinion may be biased and it's certainly a minority. For what it's worth I found it to be an enjoyable little cheesy frolic, with the added bonus of Christopher George before his demise in 1983. Impressive box-office (nearly $24 million from a much smaller budget) makes me wonder why they didn't make a sequel? It's scary, thinking that this could have become a franchise, imagine Freddy vs. Jason vs. The fencing mask killer! Wow that sounds great! Be warned this is only recommended to bad cinema fanatics. If you'll still confused, just know that Troma recently re-released it and you know what sort of movies they like!
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now you're just looking for an event to mass-murder!
Nightman8525 July 2005
Why, of all the slasher films to come out of the early '80's, that Graduation Day is so well remember I will never know. Graduation Day is a far cry from some of the better '80's slashers, but it isn't the bottom of the barrel either.

After a high school track star literally runs herself to death, someone begins to kill the remaining members of the track team. But for what reason?

Graduation Day is a slasher film that's served with a big slice of cheese. You've got some corny characters, some unneeded musical numbers (not including the funky song in the opening montage), and some bad acting - no wonder Vanna White is only spinning letters now. But it has some merits too. There are some amusing murder sequences and the story manages to be engaging - if only for the campy elements.

So when all is said and done, you can do worse. But it's not worth missing The Burning, Curtains, or House on Sorority Row for.

** out of ****
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Insultingly bad
LBarlane2413 March 2017
A high school massacre takes place after the tragic death of a female track runner. Yeah, not the most interesting premise, but it could've turned out well if there was any effort put into it. What does this movie do wrong you may wonder, what doesn't it do wrong? What doesn't this movie do at all? I'll tell you, build tension or develop it characters. Yeah, who needs people you can care about, whether they die or not? Oh yeah, I guess that's all we wanna watch them do, die. The only character with, I guess, the most development is the deceased girl's older sister, who's name isn't that important enough to remember; honestly though, she is not the least bit interesting. With all that said, this is not the worst horror film ever, but I would definitely call it the worst slasher film of all time.
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this movie graduates with a D-
rott213 August 2003
This is one of the worst slasher movies that i have seen for a while. It's not all that bad, but it is so slowwwww and boringggggg. That's what makes it bad. Little gore. The last 20 min. turns in more to be an action movie than a horror movie. 3/10
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Its damn good for a B movie
Parker_Lloyd_Lewis23 January 2003
Allright, who ever said that final exam had any direction, is a damn idiot. No... retarded. Final exam had no plot whatsoever. Some fat guy starts killing college kids for no reason. No Motive!!! I know its cool to just start killing kids off for no reason and could seem scarier, but graduation day had unique ways of killing people. Like right before the killer offed someone he would set his stopwatch for 30 seconds. Just how long it was when the track girl died at the begining. I know the acting isnt great, BUT WHAT DID YOU EXPECT. YOU RENTED AN 80's SLASHER FLICK!!! ARE YOU THAT STUPID?!?! Ofcourse the acting is going to suck. Thats why I love slasher movies. They can have the worse acting or effects, etc. But they still keep me interested. Oh yeah, And that Felony band in the movie. They dress like idiots, the singer is annoying, but they still rocked. Why is that? Oh well I would give this movie and 8 out of 10 for a B movie.
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Routine slasher
cwillis_m14 November 2003
"Graduation Day" is a result of the success of "Friday the 13th." Both of those films are about creative, bloody murders, rather than suspense. If you enjoy that type of film, I'd recommend "Graduation Day." If not, I wouldn't. There's nothing new here, just the same old killings.

Even though I've given the film a 4 out of 10, I will say that it's not a repulsive film. It is watchable if your curious about it, just not creative.
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"FELONY" = For the world to hear!!!!
janelle198827 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Graduation Day" -

i bought this movie this past week and waited for some time where i could kick back and relax and watch some "good" 80's slasher gems, i got this and "Xtro" to watch, never seen any of them. i just watched it and realized my outdoor speakers were on also. i only imagine what my neighbors thought when "Felony" came on to sing their one 10 minute hit? I'm sure it was loud and I'm sure they think I'm weird, with that and the chainsaw sound and screaming from other movies.

this was a pretty sub par slasher movie, no suspense, no story, some cool deaths, almost seemed on the amateur side, i usually like movies like that, but it just didn't click with me, now i will watch "Xtro" for the 1st time and have a margarita!

DJ Eric Austin TX
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Cheesy slasher throwaway that is not as bad as you may think
LuisitoJoaquinGonzalez14 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you ask the majority of avid horror fans, I am sure that they all remember the first gruesome feature they watched. For true collectors it's a lot like losing your virginity; a point in time that begins a new and never ending chapter of your life. I was never keen on gruesome sights whilst growing up in Huelva in Spain, but after staying up late one Halloween night to watch John Carpenter's seminal flick of the same title, my life changed forever. After being thoroughly engrossed by Michael Myers' exploits, I was enthusiastic to taste more of the slasher ingredients that had left such a lengthy impression on my mind. After trawling through the Friday the 13th series from start to finish, I decided that I wanted more, and I launched upon a lifelong task of tracking down hack and slash obscurities. Part of me wants to feel the way I felt that night so many moons ago when I was left wondering, 'Just what is Michael Myers?" While there is a part of me that just enjoys the challenge of hunting down slasher rarities.

After relocating to England in the late eighties I hurried to my local video shop to check out the possibilities that the UK could offer in terms of horror entertainment. I was immediately struck by the cover of Graduation Day in my local store. The creative packaging promised a slasher marathon to rival the likes of its brethren and it stunk of that b-movie rhapsody that only 80s films can provide. When I took the box to the counter with my eager face beaming brightly, I was disappointed to hear that the video had been damaged and Graduation Day was nowhere to be seen. I asked if I could keep the box for reference purposes and headed home, hoping that one day I would finally be able to witness the thrills promised by the hyperbole packaging.

It took me another 9 years to track down a copy of Herb Freed's truant feature and after all those months of anticipation, I knew that it would have to be one hell of a movie experience to match my expectations.

It kicks off funkily enough with the memorable theme tune, 'everybody wants to be a winner'. We are shown a collage of shots as the students of Midville High track-team compete in events against other athletes. Suddenly the camera pans in on the 100 metre sprint and one eager youngster shoots off to an audacious lead, leaving the other competitors stuttering in her wake. The crowd cheer her on to victory, but as Laura Ramstead bursts across the finish line, she slumps to the floor – dead.

As Graduation Day looms, the seniors of Midville still have the memory of Laura's death fresh in their minds. Her grieving boyfriend Danny is relieved when Laura's sister arrives to pay her final respects to the tragic youngster. But as soon as she turns up, the members of the track team begin being brutally killed by a maniac dressed in a tracksuit and fencing mask. The assassin creatively murders the athletes and then crosses their faces off of a team photo with bright red lipstick. As the bodies pile up, we are left to wonder if there will be any one left alive to participate in Graduation day.......

Despite some hokey gore effects, Graduation Day presents itself efficiently, and we never get the feeling that this has been made on the merest of budgets. For readers who are unaware of director Herb Freed (Beyond Evil/Haunts), he was a prolific horror moviemaker from 1977-81 and he brought to his pictures a trademark of fast, 'chop-sokey' editing that defined the intensity of an engaging scene. To be fair, he does a good enough job of creating suspense in places and there is one or two skilfully planned set-pieces. The performances are surprisingly well-tuned from an amateurish cast and kudos to E.J. Beaker and Michael Pataki for providing some fairly amusing comedic diversion. Christopher George hams it impressively and eagle eyed viewers will spot a pre-fame Vanna White in a part she wishes she could forget. Freed throws in a few neat gimmicks including the killer timing his murders by stopwatch and keep an eye out for the pole volt slaying, which is laughably ingenious to say the least.

If Graduation day is not the daftest of all the period splatter flicks, then it must be up in the top two. Despite a bulging body count, there's more smirking to be done during the runtime than hiding behind the sofa. Watch out for the scene when the killer throws a sword an impressive 500 yards straight through the heart of one unfortunate victim; and the less that's said about the rancid rock group at the roller disco, the better! The gore effects are bordering on pathetic and the mystery killer's identity is everything but a shock when he is finally unmasked.

OK so Graduation Day was never going to rival the likes of Halloween in the slasher stakes. But in all fairness, it does have its place in the annals of stalk and slash horror and it's not that bad. It actually benefited from an impressive box office return ($24 million from a budget of just under $1 million), which must've opened the possibility for a sequel that somewhat unfortunately never materialised. Financially the movie fights its corner well against its contemporaries and it deserves its place in the slasher hall of fame....
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"These diplomas are tickets to the adult world."
Backlash00712 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers

I'm somewhat of a fan of the early slasher flicks, and with Christopher George attached I had hope that Graduation Day might be a decent watch. George may have done some lame horror films but, dammit, I still like the guy. He plays track team Coach George Michaels (ha) and may or may not be a killer. When the film starts, it opens with the worst music EVER! My expectations were beginning to diminish. After the music dies down, our female track star does too. She falls over after completing a 30 second race. This is the start of the mayhem. Soon, other members of the track team are stalked and killed in the usual slasher fashion. The villain in this film wears a fencing outfit and times himself with a stopwatch. He also has to follow the rule of creating inventive ways of killing teens. The best kill: death by football. The whodunit, surprisingly, wasn't entirely predictable. I had narrowed it down to two suspects but was never 100 percent sure which one it was. And wouldn't you know it, there's a showdown between those two characters. The first in a series of endings was the best and the movie should have stopped there. It was a great way to end the movie and I would have considered adding it to my collection with that twist. Sadly it keeps going and what follows does not impress me. Even though this isn't the greatest quality slasher, they still don't make them like this anymore. Be on the lookout for scream queen Linnea Quigley and Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White. Troma has re-released this on DVD if anyone is interested.

"The seniors at Midvale High are being fitted for caps and gowns-and coffins."
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If you thought Sleepaway Camp was stupid, this will make your head explode.
kurtman-325 February 2006
This film is slow. This film is cheap. This film makes Friday the 13th look like a Best Picture nominee. The acting is crap. The special effects are crap. No one dies for like 40 minutes and all the people do is act badly. The only thing that saves it is it's ability to make you laugh at all the stupidity going on. The funniest part is watching the heroine "fight off" the attacker. She supposed to be trained but she fights like a 70 year old. They spend pointless scenes on people who don't die and no scenes on people who do die to the point where you don't even know why they are dieing. I love slashers but this is just crap.
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Graduation Day
Scarecrow-8814 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
High school female track star dies of a blood clot after winning a race with the community in an uproar against Coach George Michaels(Christopher George playing him as a major butt-head who is VERY demanding of the athletes under his watch). He'll be canned after school lets out providing the flick with his motive as a possible killer. Some twisted psychopath in sweats(much the same as what Michaels is often seen wearing), using a stop watch to time his executions, murders the members of the track team the dead female runner was a part of. Soon disturbed parents call Principal Guglione(Michael Pataki)wondering why their children didn't come home after a prom party. Inspector Halliday(Carmen Argenziano)begins snooping around campus at worried parents' request. Instantly a beleaguered Michaels becomes a prime suspect after the body of a gymnast is found in a locker. Ensign Anne(Patch Mackenzie)returned home from her base in Guam to receive her dead track sister's diploma and soon confronts the killer herself in the climactic chase scene. Kevin Badger(E Danny Murphy)is the weary boyfriend of the lost track star.

Rather leisurely paced slasher spreads out the death sequences quite a bit trying to mix humor within and rather failing miserably. Low-quality kill sequences only increase the laughter such as a sword embedded within a football thrown into the stomach of a football player or a pair of garden shears used to behead a poor soul taking a leak. Linnea Quigley has an amusing role as horny student Dolores who sleeps with her music teacher for a higher grade and always chases after a male stud(the recipient of the garden shears before he has a chance to bed Dolores outside of the prom party). Vanna White has an early role here as a ditsy blonde who discovers the dead gymnast's body in the locker. Virgil Frye has a silly role as an inept officer.
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It's the same old Slasher you'd see plenty of times in the 80's; I'd skip it
callanvass22 August 2013
I used to be a huge Slasher fan. I still am to a certain extent. I still check out old slasher's from the 80's as I am entertained by some of them. The original Halloween is my favorite of all time; I dig the original F13th film and some of its sequels, so I'm not all that picky. I found this one on You Tube… needless to say it was pretty bad. The cheese factor is certainly here and there are moments of enjoyment to be had; not many of them, but it wasn't void of them, but that's probably the only compliment I can give it. Like most slasher's from the 80's. It is done in by its derivative nature and of course the terrible acting. It doesn't offer much suspense, and the deaths are mostly bloodless and uninspired. The opening wasn't that bad. A track runner plummeting to her death was rather decent, but it made the killer much too obvious in the long run. The killer himself is rather bland as well. A sweat suit and a fence mask? That would make me shake in my boots for sure. We have some familiar faces in the cast. Genre favorite Christopher George plays a moody sports coach…what a shock! Other notable actors such as Michael Pataki (Rocky IV) and the lovely Vanna White from Wheel of Fortune are in it as well. I almost forgot. I did like the ending. It got me there for a moment, which is something I wasn't expecting…

Final Thoughts: Know what you're getting with this one. A lot of bad acting, a rip off Friday the 13th, and uninspired death scenes. If you like a little bit of cheese, but cheese that lacks suspense and the overall fun factor, this is probably for you. I'd skip it as I said in the summary

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Underwhelming Teen Slasher
Make no mistake - Graduation Day is no lost masterpiece. It's a bit slow, the acting isn't great, and the cheese is overflowing throughout, but there's some stuff to recommend.

A young track star dies during a meet and her fellow teammates begin getting slaughtered one by one. Is it the pushy coach? The victim's sister? Her boyfriend? The creepy janitor? Pretty much everyone is a suspect here, but the mystery is nothing to write home about.

Come to think of it, the death scenes aren't either. A lot of them are either off screen or blink and you'll miss it. This could be forgiven if there were better characters or a more interesting plot, but they're both pretty ho hum. The most interesting character is Anne, the sister of the dead track star, who appears to be our lead for a few minutes before getting lost in the ensemble and only appearing periodically. This leaves us without anyone to really root for or drive the story along, so it can be a bit of a slog to get through.

Linnea Quigley shows up and adds some fun to the mix, so there's always that. There's also an amusing death by football, which you can't hate.

Graduation Day might be a bit slow and not sure of which direction to take, but it's not the worst slasher flick you'll see.
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Not the Greatest Slasher, But Fun
marcusgrant-8663029 March 2019
Graduation Day was released during the glory year of the American slasher film and, for that year, it's one of the less inspired entries. There's not a lot of style, the acting ranges from bland to playing to the back row hamminess, but there's something compelling and watchable about it.

The plot is your average "avenging a wrongfully murdered character" narrative, but there's an attempt at a genuine murder mystery angle here that gives the film a bit more drive than your typical body count flick.

Some of the murders are semi-inspired even if the gore and makeup effects are of the "throw a bucket of blood at a wall and see what sticks" variety.

If there's a huge issue with the film, it's a lack of a true hero or heroine. It seems that the sister of the wrongfully killed character from the prologue is going to be the lead, but she almost completely disappears during the 2nd act of the movie and we never get to know much about her and she mostly functions as an obvious red herring. Perhaps with a central character to focus on, Graduation Day might be better remembered, but it's more interested in wacky principal/secretary hi jinx that feels like padding.

Graduation Day is a passable and watchable slasher flick, but don't expect too much. Bonus points for a fun, early Linnea Quigley role.
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more mystery then slasher, Graduation Day doesn't graduate with flying colors
tdrish1 November 2018
Have low expectations from Troma, and I promise they won't disappoint you. Graduation Day is the classic 1981 slasher movie directed by Herb Freed, whoever the hell that is. My God, this movie did not know when to end! It has long drawn out scenes, the band playing while a double homicide was going on was just flat out annoying. The only slasher film ever made where the killer times his murders. The question is, who is the killer. Is it the sister, whose sister died on the track running. It seems all the murders are everyone who was in the picture on the same track team. One by one, they are offed , often in a grisly, non graphic death. More silly then anything, this bore fest just didn't CUT it for me. ( Cut it, get it, it's a slasher movie....huh heh, I crack myself up.) Bottom line: There's better slasher movies out there. Find them, and then watch them.
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The end of high school, or the end of your life
drownnnsoda19 March 2017
"Graduation Day" centers on a southern California high school where the track team's star athlete dies during a race. Her Navy sister arrives in town after the event, and the remaining track athletes begin getting picked off one by one leading up to the high school's graduation day.

An early follower of the slasher trend that dominated the early eighties, "Graduation Day" has the distinguishing element of being anchored in a significant event in any teenager's life—their graduation—but the truth is, the film could have realistically taken place at any point in the school year, as, save for one plot point, the graduation date plays a very insignificant role in the narrative. Its commitment to the "graduation day" event is more a spin on the slasher trend to set films on holidays or around significant cultural calendar dates; "Graduation Day" takes its cues from the following year's "Prom Night" rather significantly.

As much as the film is in imitator, that's not where its issues lie; rather, the film is styleless to a fault. Save some hokey synth pieces and a couple of effective POV shots, the film is aesthetically bland, and also suffers from distractingly sloppy editing that detracts from even the most tense of scenes. There are a handful of amusing and relatively violent murder scenes, but the general tonal pallidness of the film is ever present. Christopher George plays a sleazy coach here, with Patch Mackenzie who is mildly likable as the overbearing elder sister of the deceased track athlete. The finale has a couple of grotesque moments, but the showdown is ultimately anticlimactic, all things considered.

Overall, "Graduation Day" is one of the more middling slashers of its era; it's certainly not the worst, but it's not among the best either. There are a few moments that are worth seeing for genre completists and fans, but the film generally feels uninvolving and stylistically lazy. I'd recommend fans give it a go at least once, but it's one of the less memorable of its peers, and with good reason. 5/10.
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Eh I found it OK!
DomNickson84312 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler Alert!!! I see why so many people hate this movie and I really understand that it does have it's moments where it drags on. I mean seriously the suspect couldn't be more obvious. It's pretty obvious that the only person closest to the girl who died was the killer and that's the bf. Seriously, I guessed it right from the start and I just waited for each one to die to prove my prediction. Anyway, most of the deaths were pointless and the characters were completely innocent. The killer had no reason to kill anybody but himself. This whole movie was pretty much a waste of time but I really liked the costume that the killer used. It was unusual and really creative at the time. However I don't think a sword is the best weapon for a sadistic serial killer. I sort of liked this movie despite how stupid it is at times. I give it a 4 out of 10.
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Lucabrasisleeps4 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I actually liked it more than most people did, judging by the rating. One of the first things I noticed was the presence of Christopher George who was in one of my favourite slashers called Pieces. But here he is not that good and the movie overall is not highly interesting.

There is some minimal nudity, frankly I don't remember any memorable ones anyway. They should have amped up the nudity, at least that should have increased the rating somewhat. Some interesting violent scenes though especially a murder by spikes! There are definitely some atmospheric scenes which did work I admit. Especially the locker room scene. But they are few and far between to actually make a big impact.

The ending is highly disappointing. Apparently it is a big twist but it is pretty much what everybody would predict anyway. And it is also ripping of some better horror films as well.

Overall, I am not satisfied but some high points for some atmospheric scenes.

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