High school track runner Laura drops dead from a heart attack on the finishing line, just a short while prior to their graduation. Her sister comes home for graduation day to honor her sister, but she'll also witness the deaths of Laura's track runner school mates when a crazy murderer is on the loose. Are the death connected, and who is behind them?
Curious as I have been of "Graduation Day", which has been under Troma's banner for as long as I can remember, I only finally watched it because Vinegar Syndrome sent their sexy blu-ray release of the movie for reviewing. My defense for waiting this long is because.. well.. there's a lot of Troma I want to watch, and mediocre slashers are usually just below "shitty monster movies" as far as my interest goes.
Laura was a track runner in high school. At the end of their final year, she wins a race and drops dead from an heart attack right after passing the finishing line. She leaves behind her a grieving mother, a drunken father, a loving boyfriend and her older sister who has been away for years. After Laura's death, her sister finally comes home for graduation day to honor Laura. On her visit she sees what the death of Laura did to her family and Laura's friends. When the other members of the track runner team are brutally murdered one after one, it's up to Laura's sister to figure out what is going on.
You can predict who the murderer is early on, no matter how many curve balls the filmmakers are attempting to throw. Even when they wanted you to think anyone is the possible murderer, you rare suspect more than 2 at most, and one of them is indeed the killer. This doesn't really matter though, because "Graduation Day" isn't about a clever screenplay. It's not even about brutal deaths - because they're not really that graphic. However, "Graduation Day" is a slasher from the time when the genre was still rising, so it is the perfect throwback for those who miss the early slashers. It's filled with cheese, scenes that are cut after the music (a fun addition from the editor), failed mystery, bare kill scenes and an angry Christopher George. It's fun because it's pretty weak. It's most definitely a cult film, being a slasher movie that somehow makes even the smallest things weird from random decisions within the film team (again, like the editor cutting after the music beats).
There are at least two death scenes that I enjoyed - one being a decapitation. Nothing fancy, just a decapitation with the head flying up in the air. You gotta love it, it's all you need! The second one is someone getting a sharp object through their neck. The blood that flows is just wonderfully wrong! Other than that, you can't watch "Graduation Day" for the gore.
After Jason Voorhees, killers became monsters. "Graduation Day" is from when the killers were still humans, doing it from revenge or similar. Slasher movies didn't always have a gimmick in terms of masks, tools, way or murdering, and so on. Arguably "Graduation Day" doesn't really have a gimmick as such, but there are some strange traits to the killer - like carrying a timer, or when dressed in a fencing outfit and killing someone with a sharp fencing blade. We don't really know if that's the outfit the killer wears a lot or not, since usually we just see the hands.
Having finally watched it, I'd say it is definitely a Troma title (now Vinegar Syndrome title) worth checking out, right next to something like "Girl School Screamers". Neither is great, but both entertained me enough. I'm sure my review of the movie doesn't sound flattering, but I think this is something everyone who loves slasher movies should watch. I think any older slasher movie with a holiday/celebration day theme is worth checking out, because that's what made the slasher genre iconic. More often than not, the holiday slashers are the ones we remember most (my own favorite slasher being "Black Christmas").