From The Vault: Graduation Day (1981) Simon Fitzjohn April 25, 2017 From The Vault 4423 Man, do I love slasher movies. Now, before anybody gets on my back or starts jumping down my throat – yes, I am well aware that the slasher genre contains some of the most formulaic, tedious and downright predictable horror flicks ever put on film. But I don’t give a damn – so there. I’m certainly not going to start trying to convince anybody that every slasher flick I have sat through has been an enjoyable ride because the truth is they haven’t. Graduation Day fits somewhere in the middle ground – nothing memorable or of real note in the slightest, but equally nothing that prevents it from being watchable. In its favour it has the time-honoured slasher tradition of hooking its concept on an anniversary/event of some sort (see Halloween, Friday the 13th, Valentine’s Day, April Fool’s Day etc), along with having genre favourite Christopher George (Grizzly, The Exterminator, City of the Living Dead) in a lead role. The film gets underway with a ludicrous track meet montage, complete with awful funk soundtrack, that ends in tragedy when star athlete Laura collapses and dies after winning a race. Fast forward a couple of months and the school is now preparing for its graduation day, with Laura’s sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie) returning to the town to collect the diploma on her sis’s behalf. Wouldn’t you know though – suddenly the other stars of the track and field team begin to meet a sticky end at the hands of a tracksuit-wearing killer. That proves one of my real issues with the film though as, try as I might, I could find no real reason why any vengeful killer would want to dispatch the other members of the track team. After all, they had nothing to do with Laura’s death (it is said she died of a blood clot), so why blame them for it? In fact, the only person you could really see as being in the firing line is head coach Michaels (George), who pushed Laura to breaking point. But the filmmakers obviously want us to think it is Michaels doing the killing, with the unseen murderer wearing the same tracksuit, holding the same stopwatch etc. As far as the on-screen deaths go, well they are nothing to write home about – there are a couple of neat ideas with the killer wielding a fencing sword at times, but the movie skimps on the gore really. There is also a handful of the mandatory women’s locker room scenes, although very little in the way of nudity if that is your bag. The film also seems to have about four endings, with the film electing to carry on just when you think it is winding up. Directed by Herb Freed (who also brought us the likes of Beyond Evil and Haunts), Graduation Day certainly has its moments, and the dialogue in the main avoids the tiresome teen talk so prevalent in the genre. But with the lack of real gore, a killer who has very muddied motives and a host of predictable scenes, the film barely makes the grade.