The Initiation (1984)
Starring: Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, Daphne Zuniga
My reaction to this title is not something I would make a big deal with as The Initiation like any other slasher out there. Literally. My first viewing never put me anywhere and it took me two more shots (and slightly outgrowing my immature and shallow bloodlust) before I could even find to at least appreciate what the film offered. Does this make the title any less deserving to be seen and enjoyed? Of course not.
Kelly Fairchild ( Daphne Zuniga) is one of the new meat for Delta Ro Kai sorority. Her and other pledge's task to get in? Break inside her stepdad's department store during pledge night and steal a night guard's uniform. Easier said than done when a killer had gotten out from a mental asylum somewhere and Kelly's parents (Vera Miles and Clu Gulager) are rattled enough to keep this from her. True enough, the murderer keeps the death toll in high and soon breaks into the same department store where Kelly and her friends are staying and soon to be dying.
The first bulk of the movie obviously have a pacing issue as more build-up was made to Kelly's strange condition, which involves her seeing a horrific vision of what looks like her younger self attempting to kill her stepdad (which looked like a carbon copy of Carpenter's Halloween opening), as well as the shrouded mystery to what happened some years ago when Kelly was just a little girl. It lumbers a bit in this direction but once prank night came, we set on to focus on a more exciting cat-and-mouse game with a derange maniac and nubile teens, inside an empty mall that echoed the same premise for 1986's robot slasher, Chopping Mall. I honestly could give a humble kudos to the mystery of killer's identity, being one of the few good reason to see this film as it did pretty well on hiding it within the elusive plot twists and a good combination of lighting and cinematography.
Then there's the crazy atmosphere that often shifts back and forth from being cheesy to downright heavy. Acting-wise, the character cast was a big factor to the flow, providing many outrageous moments (check out one dude's costume for a house party) and intrigue to the story. And then when it's their turn to die, though the special effects department didn't offer anything more elaborate than simple garden tool stabbings, they're still freshly red enough to satisfy a humble slasher fan.
On the outside, The Initiation is simply another campus slasher that sets out everything you knew and loved about the sub-genre, doing a few extra mile on its part to flesh out a unique story, at least as much as they could. It's not going to work for everybody but it's simple b-grade plotting and gradable cheese factor is surely something for the right fan and slasher completists alike.
1 female stabbed to death with a garden fork
1 male stabbed on the neck with a garden fork, decapitated with a machete
1 male stabbed on the chest with a garden fork1 male hacked on the head with a hatchet
1 female shot through with an arrow
1 male found with throat cut
1 female knifed to death
1 female murdered offcamera
1 female shot