Graduation Day is a 1981 slasher directed by Herb Freed that features many of the same tropes found in films like this one and yet, no matter how many times you have seen them, they never tend to get old if done right. The film is obviously centered around the big day most students tend to experience at the end of their high school career though in this particular case, it would not be grades that would prevent them from making it, but death.
As it begins, the movie wastes no time in getting down to business, establishing the incident which would lead to the murders of many a young teenager. The film is quite brazen at this point, showing you who the killer is going to be right from the start and yet, your mind fails to grasp it as they throw a red herring in there to take you off that path. Surprisingly it works, because as the killer goes about their business, the makers of this film actively try to swerve you towards said herring, at least until they can no longer do so. Suffice it to say, the movie does tend to engage you quite fully in just what it is doing until that final moment when all is revealed.
Though most of the kills are particularly uninventive, the special effects are done quite well with a lot of blood making its way to the screen. Once it gets going, the bodies really start to pile up and like any good slasher, while there is a goal in mind for the killer, anyone who gets in the way is fair game. Christopher George would star as the coach and the movie would not only feature Scream Queen Linnea Quigley, but a pre-Wheel of Fortune Vanna White who sadly, gets decapitated. Being set in a high school setting, there is the obligatory nude scene in the locker room, the girl whose grades are too poor and must seduce a teacher to pass, the pervy principal and many other clichés that have been seen innumerable times. While overly familiar, you need these caricatures in a slasher film because they add to the body count and deep down; part of you wants to see them get slaughtered. Perhaps the filmmakers who create these types of pictures have some sort of psychological insight into its audience or maybe it is something else altogether, but better the high school jock or the scumbag teacher gets it rather than the cute girl who lives next door.
Including a nod towards Psycho, there is a lot of fun to be had with Graduation Day and while it is by no means the best horror movie you will ever see, any slasher is essentially, a good slasher.
3 out of 5