The Initiation (1984)
Review by Jude Felton
Step into the cult arena, once more my friends. Yes indeed, this is the latest release from Arrowdrome, and it’s a welcome one for me. If you know me, or even if you don’t, you’ll know that I’m a huge slasher fan. Maybe I should reword that; I’m a huge fan of old school slasher flicks from the late 70s and early 80s. There’s something about the naivety of the characters, the ridiculous situations and of course the gratuitous gore and nudity. They were simple and damned good fun. And this one stars Daphne Zuniga, damn it!
You want plot details? Tough, you’ll get check points. Escaped mental patient? Check. Teenage girl suffering from a recurring nightmare? Check. A family secret? Check. A sorority house? Check. Good stuff this. A group of teens in an empty department store hunted by an unseen killer? Hell checking yeah!
That, my fiends, pretty much sums up The Initiation, with Daphne Zuniga, as Kelly, being the said traumatized teen, who gets a little too close to a college teaching assistant, in order to try and unravel her nightmare. Clu (I’m not in this one much) Gulager makes a wee appearance and Vera Miles, hamming it up as Kelly’s mother.
It’s a slasher flick, pure and simple, and passes a canny resemblance to Halloween in places, as well as taking nods from other films of the era. It works though, as director Larry Stewart slowly amps up the plot until we reach the carnage and scares of the last third. The Initiation isn’t especially gory, although there are plenty of cool kill scenes, and the ending is nicely done.
Of course, there are problems herein, such as Clu Gulager’s character being outside, where the weather is apparently fine. When we cut to the interior of the house, there’s a quite obvious thunderstorm raging on somewhere. Then back outside and it’s fine again. Also, when you shout, or scream, outside this house, no-one inside can hear you. Once again, it’s a slasher flick, damn it.
There’s a little too much focus on teens trying to get laid and party it up at a dodgy dance, but Stewart does a good job of keeping the killer, and kills, firmly in our minds. You know when the murderer will strike, but who or where is not always apparent.
I enjoyed The Initiation; in fact I liked it a lot. What does surprise me is that there are no extras on this DVD release, in fact I am surprised that Arrow didn’t see fit to give it one of their sexy Blu-ray/DVD combo releases. Maybe there wasn’t the material available, or maybe it’s because it is a slightly obscure film? Regardless, it’s great to see it get a new release, and it’s definitely worth giving it a gander. In other words, I recommend you check it out!
The Initiation is available on DVD in the UK from Arrowdrome.