Monday, October 15, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE INITIATION (1984) from Arrow Video - October 15, 2018

Starring Daphne Zuniga, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, James Read, Marilyn Kagan, Robert Dowdell, Frances Peterson, Patti Heider
Screenplay by Charles Pratt Jr.
Cinematography by George Tirl
Edited by Ronald LaVine
Produced by Jock Gaynor, Bruce Lansbury, Scott Winant
Directed by Larry Stewart, Peter Crane (uncredited)
Originally released by New World Pictures
Released by Arrow Video

Welcome to Day 15 horror hounds! Today's film is an often overlooked and forgotten slasher from the mid 1980's. By this time, theaters were bombarded with slasher films. There were so many that it was almost impossible to keep up with them. One of these was released in 1984 and isn't discussed enough. Thanks to the kind folks over at Arrow Video, this terrible wrong has been justly righted and they have unleashed THE INITIATION to be enjoyed by the masses!

The film's official synopsis: HERE'S TO BEING YOUNG... STAYING YOUNG... AND DYING YOUNG. Marking TV star Daphne Zuniga s debut in a leading role, THE INITIATION ranks amongst the finest of the college-based stalk-and-slash flicks now finally restored in glorious High-Definition! Kelly s new sorority has a special initiation ritual in store for her an after-hours break-in of her father s department store. But what begins as a night of harmless college fun turns sour when, once inside the enormous mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in for the night... with a deadly intruder stalking the corridors. Arriving in 1984, THE INITIATION might have been late to the slasher party, but, alongside the likes of THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW and THE MUTILATOR, it remains one of the stronger entries to emerge in the latter days of the slice-and-dice boom.

I've only seen clips of the movie, so watching it for the first time was highly entertaining, especially that twist ending! Boy, I didn't see that coming!! This was such a great horror movie, deserving praise of its blend of traditional slasher troupes and Freudian subplot involving Daphne Zuniga's character Kelly Fairchild. Zuniga was fantastic and she showed that she had the talent to go far in Hollywood, which she did in films like SPACEBALLS, THE SURE THING, GROSS ANATOMY and television shows like Melrose Place, Beautiful People, and One Tree Hill. Clu Gulager does what he does best: being Clu Gulager! Genre fans loved him RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE, and THE HIDDEN. Vera Miles, who plays Frances Fairchild, is a Hollywood legend. Her resume includes titles like THE SEARCHERS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, PSYCHO and the 1983 sequel PSYCHO II.

Original Theatrical Poster (1984)
Director Peter Crane was on-hand to shoot the film, but after several days of shooting, the schedule had fallen behind and he was fired and replaced by Larry Stewart, who completed the rest of the film on time and on budget. This is the reason why there's two different and distinctive looks to the film. Stewart received credit for directing the movie, while Crane was never acknowledged.

Again, the film was released by New World Pictures on December 7, 1984. Unfortunately for the film, it was competing against Wes Craven's now classic A NIGHTMARE OF ELM STREET and we all know what happened next: Freddy dominated the boxoffice and the film faded from theaters in a matter of months. It was released on VHS by Thorn EMI in the mid-80's and eventually was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment 2002, then reissued again on DVD in 2011 by Image Entertainment's "Midnight Madness" Series, due to Anchor Bay letting the film's rights run out. In August 2016, Arrow Video announced that they would be restoring and releasing the film on Blu-Ray for the very first time.

The Blu-Ray comes some special features contents: Brand new restoration from original film elements, High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio, Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues, Brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley, Brand new interview with actress Joy Jones, Original Theatrical Trailer, Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn, and a Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver (only for the First Pressings of the Blu-Ray).

THE INITIATION is a totally awesome 80's slasher flick that will make you scream with fright! It's a nasty horror film that's full of outrageous clothes, radical hairstyles, and plenty of bloodshed to satisfy every horror fanatics' wet dreams! It's a movie that should have been spotlighted more over the years, and now fans of the film can now watch it in the comfort of their living room! 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!

THE INITIATION is available on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the Diabolik DVD website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

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