Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Vinegar Syndrome - GRADUATION DAY on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vinegar Syndrome - GRADUATION DAY on Blu-ray

GRADUATION DAY (1981; Herb Freed)
I consider myself a slasher movie fanatic, but GRADUATION DAY seems to be a film that I saw on VHS decades ago, but has since run together with countless other films like it in my memories. Watching it again now, on this Blu-ray, certainly made it feel like a whole new movie. 
The film has some odd editing choices in parts, sort of a flutter-cut technique of some sort, which feels strangely out of place here. 
For a slasher flick, GRADUATION DAY certainly takes it time in between kills early on. It almost gives FINAL EXAM. (Which I love) a run for its money in that department. Certainly one memorable thing about the movie is the use of sports equipment as murder weapons. I wish there had been more slasher films that did that. FATAL GAMES is the other big one that comes to mind (though there are definitely a few more). I don't believe FATAL GAMES had the guts to rip off the score to VERTIGO a few times like GRADUATION DAY did though. And FATAL GAMES also didn't have Vanna White in a small early role (as well as the great Linnea Quigley). Speaking of the cast, it's primarily lesser known actors outside of Quigley and of course Christopher George. George made a name for himself in genre classics like this one as well as PIECES, GRIZZLY and DAY OF THE ANIMALS. I'm not sure if he was at all a grumpy gent in real life, but he certainly made a regular habit if playing grouchy dudes in films (which I always found pretty endearing). 
Another memorable thing about this movie is its whodunit-style plot which makes it feel more Giallo-ish than a lot of the slasher films from this period. Having not seen the film in decades, I had forgotten who the killer was and I must admit to not being 100% sure until right around the time it is revealed when I rewatched it. All in all, I find it to be a quite affable entry in the admittedly overproduced slasher genre and I am quite pleased to see it get the wonderful special edition treatment that Vinegar Syndrome has given it here in not only the transfer but also the extras.

Special Features:
Vinegar Syndrome has put together a pretty remarkable spread of supplements here and fans will be excited to check them out. 
--included is not one, but two commentary tracks. The first features the film's producer David Baughn moderated by filmmaker Elijah Drenner (who also did the interviews on this disc). It's a solid listen, well moderated and kept lively and interesting with lots of questions from Drenner. A good deal of interesting background for the film is covered here including actors, locations, creative choices as well as distribution and box office.
The second features the crew of the Hysteria Continues horror podcast and it's something of a fan commentary, which is enjoyable enough with some interesting tidbits of information sprinkled throughout. These gents do remember a lot about the various actors involved and what films they were in.
--also included are four separate on-camera interviews:
-"Acting Out in School - an interview with Actress Patch Mackenzie" (9 mins).
-"Surviving the Class of '81an interview with Director Herb Freed" (13 mins).     
-"Graduation Day Blues an interview with Producer David Baughn"(12 mins).
-"Cutting Class - an interview with Editor Martin Jay Sadoff" (8 mins).
All of these are interesting interviews, but my favorites are with Herb Freed and David Baughn. Freed's chat covers his entry into directing, his reasoning behind choosing to do the films he did and the reasoning behind some of the choices in the performances and filmmaking in GRADUATION DAY. David Baughn's interview is neat because he discusses his early experiences working with Russ Meyer and how that led to him producing low-budget horror movies. He also mentions that GRADUATION DAY did very well in 1982 (it had a slow regional  roll out) when it was paired with John Carpenter's THE THING for about 8 weeks. Makes me want to try that double myself at some point.



1 comment:

Jordashe said...

You seem to be the only other person who noticed the music that seems incredibly similar to the score for Vertigo. I'm glad I'm not the only one.