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September 10, 2014

Movie Review: Graduation Day (Blu-ray / DVD Combo)

With the Troma classics Sugar Cookies and Lust For Freedom currently available from Vinegar Syndrome the company has recently taken on one of the more well-known slashers of the early 1980's in Graduation Day. Troma did release Graduation Day several years back but it left much to be desired to say the least.  In the hands of Vinegar Syndrome though, improvement is inevitable, especially with the fact that it's making it's a Blu-ray debut in a combo pack from the genre DVD and Blu-ray producers.

Graduation Day was actually a spawn off the success of John Carpenter's Halloween as were many slashers from the era (The Burning, Friday the 13th, The Prowler, just to name a few.)  The story surrounds a sudden death of an athlete and a series of murders that follow immediately after the young track star's death. When the deceased girl's sister, Anne (Patch Mackenzie, It's Alive III: Island of the Alive) arrives in town for her funeral the bodies begin to pile up of her peers in a variety of ways. Could Anne be taking some revenge kind of revenge on the students? Could it be the gym teacher played by the great Christopher George (City of the Living Dead, Enter the Ninja) or could it just be some random psycho with a blood-lust the killing of college kids?

The areas where Graduation Day shines don’t quite lie in an intelligent script (although it has a some clever bits) or in the strong acting -- it's in the creativeness of the kills and the all-around playfulness of the film. While not particularly gory it was still a lot of fun to see the demises of the characters as opposed to the routine stabbings that can even dumb down the bloodiest slashers. Another point of interest for horror fans is scream queen Linnea Quigley a pre-Wheel of Fortune Vanna White among the cast.

This new Blu-ray and DVD representation absolutely blows the old Troma DVD and any other incarnation out of the water when it comes to picture and sound. The picture isn't murky like the Troma DVD, which appeared to be rendered from an old tape master – instead, it's colorful and looks much better during the night scenes. This is definitely the way you need to see this movie.

I was very impressed with the extra features as you not only get some solid interviews with star Patch Mackenzie, Graduation Day director Herb Freed, Producer David Baughn and Editor Martin Sadoff. All seem appreciative of their time and shed some light on production with some facts you may not be aware of. If that isn't enough you get an audio commentary with Baughn and an additional track with the crew at The Hysteria Continues. Baughn talks about his involvement in Halloween and how its success brought upon Graduation Day and in one the funnier moments on the track he brings up a story about how his balls get a cameo in the movie.

If you have any love for the slasher genre you'd be hard-pressed not add Graduation Day to your collection. Vinegar Syndrome has done a hell of job putting this package together with the much improved transfer and solid extra features. Don’t pass this one up! Highly Recommended

      Screencaps for Graduation Day courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

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