Larry Stewart’s ‘The Initiation’ (1984)

If you love 80s slasher films, the chances are you’ll love Larry Stewart’s 1984 release The Initiation, the latest release on the Arrowdrome imprint of cult label Arrow. At times great, and sadly at others slightly underwhelming, The Initiation is full of all the hallmarks you’d expect from a mid 80s slasher and a film with a low-budget. Interested? Of course you are…

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Like all good slashers, The Initiation has a great, unidentified (until the final moments of course!) killer with a terrific phallic weapon – in this instance the garden fork (not quite standard phallic symbols but if you’ve got three, email me…) – who has recently escaped from the local sanitorium. The target? A group of sorority girls. actually to be more precise, one preppy sorority girl by the name of Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga). Apprehensive about her sorority initiation, Kelly also has to deal with this horrible nightmare that’s plagued her since she was a child – one that combines walking in on her parents having sex and a man getting set on fire. Majoring in psychology, Kelly decides to share her nightmare with her professor (a rather yummy James Read) who finds it so interesting that he wants tp study it and help her decode its meaning. Only, on the night of her initiation, both the worlds of her sorority and her nightmare will collide, with devastating results!

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Lets be honest, am I bigging this film up slightly? I guess so. It’s not that the film isn’t good, but at times it isn’t brilliant. Whilst there are some fun bits, the are a few moments that drag a little and stop it from becoming the über cult classic that it could be. That said, Daphne Zuniga is great as the lead girl, playing a likeable character that finds a happy medium between ignorant victim and college bitch. When the shit really hits the fan, she puts in a great turn and you can tell she relishes it. The rest of the cast come off quite favourably, with Read standing out, as well as Vera Miles and Clu Gulager playing Kelly’s parents. The feature has its fair share of clichés but when the ending comes around, it should catch you a little off guard (I genuinely didn’t see it coming and only came up with a half right prediction). It’s just a shame that when it comes to gearing up for the big finale with kills galore, the kills in question are a little boring. Everyone knows a good slasher needs some kind of increase in tension and some inventive kills, and sadly The Initiation has neither of these when it needs them the most. However, it does have the most impressive penis costume I’ve seen which warrants viewing. A three out of five, The Initiation isn’t a well-known slasher, but is as good as other sleeper hits like Student Bodies. Worth picking up and watching, but maybe one that won’t get as many repeat viewings as your standard classics.

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