Monday, August 19, 2013


Label: ArrowDrome
Rating: 18 Certificate 
Duration: 93 Minutes 
Region Code: Region 2 PAL
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Video: 16:9 Widescreen 
Cast: Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, Daphne Zuniga
Director: Larry Stewart
Tagline: Here’s to being young… staying young… and dying young.

Arrow Video budget-imprint ArrowDrome have brought Larry Stewart's by-the-numbers slasher The Initiation (1984) to PAL-format DVD in the UK. The film is a nostalgic slasher trip that doesn't stray very far from familiar slasher themes with more than a nod to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and even a bit of Happy Birthday to Me (1981). It stars 80's cutie Daphne Zuniga (The Dorm That Dripped Blood, Spaceballs) as a college-teen suffering from nightmares stemming from a traumatic past and a buried family secret. Throw a sorority prank gone awry, an asylum, some teen sex (of course), a fun mall setting and shocker of a twist ending and you have yourself a real slice of slasher nirvana, it's not original by any means but it is a rather enjoyable 80's whodunit.

I love the nightmare aspect of the story and how it pays off, plus we get some rather sweet kills using garden tools which set-up a rather obvious red-herring early on, gotta love the red-herrings in these 80's slashers. There's a fun cast of 80's familiars,  first we have Daphne Zuniga who is a total cutie as the final girl, she's great in a role that has some duality to it, fun stuff. On top of that you get Clu Gulager of The Return of the Living Dead (1986) as Kelly's father, a bit of a low-life but not horribly so, as the matriarch of the family we have Vera Miles from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) who would rather keep her secretes buried even if it means risking her own daughter's sanity. There's a decent amount of character development before the blood begins to flow, once the pranksters hit the local mall things really amp up after a somewhat slow start-up. There's a good variety to the deaths and a fair amount of the red stuff, too. Outside of the main characters we have the usual array of bitches, goofball doofuses and a virginal cutie, all are meat for the grinder though, no surprises there. 

The film gets a bit surreal as it deals quite a bit with Monica's nightmares and repressed memories, the dream sequences are pretty neat, particularly when she catches her mom boning away and she sets a man on fire, weird stuff and a great opening that starts of a bit askew. The mall setting is fantastic and it expectantly brought to mind Chopping Mall (1986) minus the murderous robots, as I've said, it's not an original film, but it definitely riffs on a few better films and chugs along at a great pace with some decent kills and some nice atmosphere, I was never bored for even a minute,  this is a damn decent slasher.

The standard-def transfer is on par with what we saw from the Region 1 Anchor Bay and Image Entertainment editions, there's a lot of soft focus and Vaseline on the lens cinematography and the 80's film stock is notoriously shit, but it's decent enough. The mono audio can be a bit tinny and the mix was low, had to crank it up a bit on the surround. There's not much in the way of special features unfortunately, just a theatrical trailer and that's it. My screener was just the disc only but apparently the retail version includes a booklet with writing's on the film by High Rising Productions' Calum Waddell. UK fans of slashers should definitely pick this budget-minded edition up, readers in the US need not upgrade. 3 Outta 5