Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Graduation Day

Welcome back Sporefans! Finals are finally over and with the return of Springtime comes the return of more regular reviews. With my obligations to higher education on hold for the Summer I can concentrate on the lower forms of entertainment that we've all come to love. Let the B-movie reviews commence!

This week's review ties into a pertinent theme, the theme of imminent freedom at the end of a long academic trek. A trek, for some, that is sadly over. But though that journey has come to an end, another journey awaits them. A journey leading to bold new horizons and vast unexplored new worlds. A journey which seeks out and explores the limitless potential of the universe.

...What? Star Trek? No, this isn't a review of a Star Trek movie! This is a review of the 1981 classic "Graduation Day", featuring Vanna White.

I'll take a "B" Pat.

Besides, I'm saving a Star Trek movie for a future review.

Moving on, some movies are timeless. At any point in your life you can sit down and watch this movie and it will still have the same impact that it did the first time you saw it. For example, in 1979 Ridley Scott gave us "Alien", a truly timeless classic. In 1968 George Romero gave us "Night of the Living Dead", a movie that forever changed the zombie genre.

This movie though, Graduation Day... complete SPORING opposite of those movies.

The Principal prepares for some afterschool activity with his secretary. Note the plaid pants.

Graduation day is more like a time capsule. Basically they took a chunk of the early 1980's and shoved it into a film case. Literally this movie is like finding a mosquito trapped in amber, full of the blood of dinosaurs waiting to be unleashed onto the human species. But should we have unleashed this movie upon ourselves? Should we?

Oh god Nooooooo!!!! Not another bad movie!!!

While this movie is definitely not a timeless classic, it did provide our viewing audience with a nice look at what life was like in 1981. I learned a great many things about the 1980's from movies. I learned that John Cusack wasn't really better off dead, because he would have missed one crazy Summer. I learned that the fast times at high school were the pinnacle of life, and that once you graduated you might as well consign yourself to death in the gutter. I learned that Molly Ringwald was pretty in pink in 1986, but that won't keep you off the outer limits of TV forever. In short, the 80's were a wild, care-free happy time full of partying, sex, booze, drugs, and rock and roll.

Which is how people usually refer to the 60's....

That reminds me of some movie depictions of the roaring twenties as well...

So I had to wonder, was Hollywood's portrayal of the 80's... fake?

Could it be that Hollywood, in order to sell a more profitable movie played up on the nostalgia of an era, bringing together people who yearned for the simpler and more pleasurable days of their youth?

But here in my hands was a little heard voice from before it all began, a new source of cultural information awaiting at my fingertips. Also, I was betting there was a lot of nudity. Gotta love that!

For any of you who have the song from "The Breakfast Club" stuck in your head after those references, click this link with the sound on. It'll drive it right out.

Vanna White and her sleepy friend lecture this gymnast on the evils of being blonde. Oh. My. God!

So here's a list of things that I found out about 1981's culture that I didn't learn from "I love the 80's" or through the lens of a John Hughes movie.

-Men wore bad suits, I mean god-awful bad. These suits should have come with an epilepsy warning.

-Girls get totally nude at the drop of a hat, and constantly crave sex. OK, so that's exactly the same as the other 80's movies.

-Guys didn't spend the entirety of their adolescent lives obsessing over a girl that they wanted to impress, but they needed to win a skiing competition or win a high speed race to do so.

-Women in the Navy are martial arts masters, capable of disarming and dispatching a cold blooded killer. That's new.

-Dead bodies totally disappear all on their own. No one trips over the corpse of a girl killed in the local park. This leads me to believe that people from the 1980's were not very observant.

-Songs go on as long as they have to. Scenes are not cropped to fit the length of a song. I guess this was before M.T.V. was a household name.

-Not everyone wore $500 suit jackets casually to school and drove expensive cars. In fact, most of their clothes were pretty bad, and the track uniforms were downright silly.

Now it might be that this is a fairly accurate depiction of 1981. It might also be that several of these things are influenced by the fact that this is a film about a serial killer released by Troma films. I don't know, I'm not a historian; but there does seem to be a lot of weird science going on here. According to Graduation Day, life in the 80's, well... kinda sucked.

Will she get the point? Hahaha.... that's a killer!

I guess you can't take what movies are telling you about life as truth. I mean, if we did, then we'd have to believe that right now I'm typing this review on a plane full of snakes, with my laptop in one hand and Mountain Dew in the other, getting ready to jump out of the back of the plane in my rocket car which will deploy a parachute right before I hit the ground; enabling me to drive 140 miles per hour to the nearest Starbucks so that I can up load my review while fighting international drug runners with my quirky comedic sidekick.


Prepare for the battle of the bad suits!

The reality is that I'm drinking orange soda and sitting comfortably at home. Much like that underwhelming revelation, Graduation Day solemnly breaks the party atmosphere of the 1980's, much like flatulence breaks the atmosphere of a romantic evening.

Not that flatulence is without its merits.

Though not the party crazy or blood soaked rendition that we've all come to expect from an 80's movie, Graduation day is also not without its merits. You're not going to "get busy" watching it, but it does feel good, and its not all that stinky. And lets face it, if you didn't watch Graduation Day, you'd explode from the internal pressure of methane building up in your digestive system.

I've just been told by my editing staff that I have my metaphors mixed up. No matter.

This 1981 slasher starts when a high school track star Laura Ramstead, played by Ruth Ann Llorens dies... of natural causes! Seriously, she has an embolism and just drops dead after the race. Take that, fitness!

Laura's sister Anne, played by Patch Mackenzie comes home from her tour of duty in Guam to attend the Graduation and accept her track trophy in her stead. I guess digging up the body and propping it atop a 3-tiered olympic style dias was considered a little tasteless back in the 80's. How times have changed.

Track team of 1981. Go running corpses of Romeroville High!

Over the course of the next two days, the other members of the track team start mysteriously disappearing, as they are murdered by a shadowy masked figure.


As the plot continues, the murders get more and more bizarre. The killer, unsatisfied with a simple throat slashing, decides to move on to more interesting ways of dispatching his victims. This includes both a bladed football-sword of doom and a pole vault mattress full of medieval spikes. Good thing this movie never merited a sequel, as the trapped sports equipment angle runs dry pretty fast.

Aw man, this is a totally awesome idea dude!

Graduation Day does have several good points. The writers were talented enough to give the audience a plethora of potential murderers. Was it the high school's track coach, played by the reknowned Christopher George? Was it the principal, Michael Pataki, with his collection of confiscated knifes? Was it the campus cop, Anne's drunken stepfather, or even Anne herself? Its a good thing McCarthyism was over in 1981, otherwise Graduation Day would have wound up on a list of suspected Communist sympathizers with all the red herrings contained within it.

In retrospect, its actually quite surprising that this movie never merited a sequel. Graduation Day cost only $250,000 to make, but earned over $23 million gross. According to my Sporetastic mathematical calculations, that about a gajillion % profit. Or... some other really big number.

On the down side, Graduation Day appears to suffer from either some good ol' MPAA censorship or use of some of the more conventional effects of the times. Most of the scenes where major violence occurs with little blood loss, as if all the actors had prematurely clotting blood. And I thought they were all heathy because they were on the track team!

The only major fault I can pin on writer/director Herb Freed is his love of using alternating quick cuts in some of his "mental" scenes, the viewing of which might give some people a headache. The lucky ones. The others will be reduced to Pokemon type epileptic seizures. Gah! Luckily this effect only gets used about twice in the whole movie.

So, looks like we lucked out on our first Summer Review, which is great because this is the first movie we've review in high def. I can recommend this movie under the "horror lite" category for some of the readers who can't take the hardcore terror that we regularly ingest here at Spored to Death Publishing. It may not be a great movie, but its a great glimpse back in both movie histoy and an alternative (but probably just as unrealistic) take on the culture of the 1980's.

Don't you forget about me, Sporefans, there'll be a lot more reviews to come as school's out for Summer.

Click here for mental cleansing.


Edward said...

Everything I learned from the 80's came from optimus prime, regan and hulk hogan.

Yo Joe!

Spored_to_Death said...

You forgot to mention G.I. Joe. Its even right there in your comment! You kids today!

And what about Night Court? Remember that? The end of M.A.S.H.? The Dukes of Hazzard? Battlestar Galactica (the original)? Buck Rogers? The Smurfs?

You don't remember any of that? Kids these days!

min said...

i wish someone would remember the phoenix, and automan, and manimal. then i would be vindicated.