Graduation Day (1981)

Produced & Directed by: Herb Freed

Written by: Herb Freed & Anna Marisse


Christopher George ... Coach George Michaels
Patch MacKenzie ... Anne Ramstead
E. Danny Murphy ... Kevin Badger
Michael Pataki ... Principal Guglione
E.J. Peaker ... Blondie
Carmen Argenziano ... Insp. Halliday
Linnea Quigley ... Dolores
Bill Hufsey ... Tony Fisk
Virgil Frye .... Officer MacGregor
Richard Balin .... Mr. Roberts
Vanna White ... Doris
Karen Abbott .... Joanne
Hal Bokar .... Ronald Corliss
Beverly Dixon .... Elaine Ramstead

Release Date: Theatrical: May 1, 1981





A top highschool track runner named Laura (Ruth Ann Llorens) dies from a blood clot just after winning her race.
There is an obnoxious gym teacher by the name of Coach George Michaels (Christopher George) who is hard on the highschool kids attending the olympics there which was part of the cause of Laura's death.
Laura's sister Anne Ramstead (Patch McKenzie) who returned from the military to attend her sister's funeral and stays with her mother Elaine (Beverly Dixon) and her nasty and abusive alcoholic stepfather Ronald Corliss (Hal Bokar) to whom she doesn't see eye to eye with.
Laura talks to her former boyfriend Kevin (E. Danny Murphy) about Laura and gives him her graduation present.

She goes to the highschool to find out why Laura died blaming Michaels for her death.
Meanwhile, a killer at the highschool
wearing a sweatsuit and a fencing mask is killing off the track team and the other athletes one by one until he slaughters them all with various weapons ever since her death.
The killer also uses a stop watch to time their deaths.
Suddenly, Michaels is a possible suspect on the horrible murders.


An impressive beginning to the story with highschool track runners racing as well as catchy fast camera shots on a time watch triggering off as well as great close up shots on the school audience cheering like crazy or other school athletes doing other types of spots as this draws into what will unveil later on. Plus a good slow motion shot on the character Laura struggling to the finish line as well as the audience slowly changing their expressions when they see on what happens which looked disturbing to watch a track runner dying.
A cheesy moment with a truck driver talking to his hitchhiker as we don't spot the character's face just yet and then he hits on her and then we spot the main character Anne Ramstead getting tough with him as this looked impressive in the story even if the scene looked a bit out of shape.
Perfect setting when Anne sees his family as her mother Elaine welcomes her but her stepfather Ronald doesn't and his wife tries to cover up for his actions which was well put in and a nice impression to a horror flick by revealing someone dysfuynctional as well as later on Anne going to the guest room and looking at the picture of the people on the track team and she throws it on the ground adding a nice touch on her being upset on what happened to her sister as well as Ronald barging in and trying to get nasty as well as her showing no mercy ready to defend herself as this also looked powerfully put into the story showing that she can handle anyone who crosses her path.
We spot an impressive shot on a blonde athlete jogging while listening to hear headset in a park area as it leaves you a hint that the killer will do her in but yet the scene takes a bit too long with her running and should've been cut a bit shorter in my personal opinion. However when she is done in it looked like a good slashing in the same vein as a Friday the 13th type fashion but her throat that is slit looked a little too mild and not graphic enough for something like this one.
We spot a nice witty moment with
Principal Guglione trying to talk to his grad students and they act silly which seemed good and natural for a highschool and for things to seem uplifting in a horror flick as it offers for some chuckles and making you want to join in on the fun.

Plus we get some decent humoress discussions with
Guglione towards his secretary Blondie in the school office
during a few different takes of the story which I must admit was fairly funny and not off at all. Definetely nothing to be taken seriously at all during these situations.
Perfect psychological moments with Coach George Michaels training one of his students and she doesn't get it right and he is pressuring her too hard which looked almost natural with someone that you'd hate as a teacher in your school days. This scene looked fairly strong to watch.
Plus there's a cornballish moment when the music teacher Mr. Roberts is playing the piano for two girls and then a sleazy girl Delores comes in waiting for them to leave and tries to get lustful with him in order to get her grades better which of course works well in a low budget slasher flick such as this one and makes you think that she will be the killers victim in time while we continue to watch more of this.
There's also a cheesy moment when Mr. Roberts goes into a basement to see who is in there and there's a tape playing on what happened in the room with him and Dolores with cheesy liners on their discussions as this somehow draws you in wondering if this is the killer doing this to do him in next.
Perfect back shots as well as upfront one's with Dolores and her boyfriend Tony Fisk getting high smoking dope as well as her feeling horny with a good camera shot creeping up near them behind some trees which also is a nice near suspenseful moment thinking that the killer is watching them.
A real memorable moment to anyone who saw this flick is when an athlete is prepping up to use a pole to jump over a hurdle which was carefully shot and concentrated as well as in the end to spot him dead on a matress of spikes. A nicely one done in for a cheesy slasher flick such as this one.
The fun really lights up when the grad dance happens with the colourful lights and the band Felony playing with good close up shots on the band doing their stuff as well as everyone rollerskating and dancing as well as a crystal ball rotating as all of this was perfectly lit and designed superbly as well as spotting Dolores and Tony having some fun leaving the area and about to make out in the park area which is a nice target for the killer to strike which looked impressive as well as spotting Dolores on what she spots which looked terrorising and trying to run away from this maniac while we spot the band playing during the same segments as this was combined in nicely but it was a little long.
Nicely focused moments with
Insp. Halliday talking to Guglione on some of the missing students as this looked good and serious.
Nice still moment with both Doris and Joanne discovering blood on a changing room locker and then they open it revealing a corpse as well as them freaking out near a corner when they spot George watching them which showed perfect horror timing on a possible suspect.
Also we have the adventureous moment with Anne running away from the revealed killer which looked suspenseful to watch along with her near the track field and spotting some corpses which adds a nice touch to a slasher film.
A clever moment with Anne waking up after thinking the terror is over yet we think we see the killer back from the dead for revenge and it fools you later on which is a perfect ending for a flick such as this one.
Bottom line is that this film was very similar to Prom Night as it was playing in theatre's the next year except it's a little cheesier. It also borrows alot from the early Friday the 13th films as well but except at a highschool instead of at a camp with the slashing moments and all. This was the year when the slasher boom was big for films like Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween II, Happy Birthday to Me and My Bloody Valentine. It is a true 80's slasher film of the days of disco dancing, roller skating and the funky clothing and hairstyles. There are a few scenes that borrows a bit from Prom Night too.

The acting is dated but fairly descent for a typical slasher flick. This does mark a very good performance by b-horror film and spaghetti western legend Christopher George (Coach George Michaels) who passed away a few years after the release of this film as an obnoxious gym teacher in which he had a perfect gravelly speaking voice which stood out nicely. Also does his job well acting aggressive and pressuring his onscreen students as he was very believeable by doing all of this. Makes you want to hit him for sure. Plus shows off energy when struggling against the onscreen killer but his blocking is slightly off at times.
Patch MacKenzie (Anne Ramstead) was perfectly sharp in her role as a tough as nails sergeant showing a good tough attitude whenever she needed to be this way by taking no crap in which she brought this on powerfully and showed great timing within all of this. Also shows a good natured attitude too and was clear in her speaking as well as having the right sharp looks and appeal which was a great add on to her character.
E. Danny Murphy (Kevin Badger) brings off a good seriouness to his part of the film as well as having a somehwat deceivingly innocence to his persona but at the same time was a bit wooden in certain spots when he delivers his lines and so fourth. He does add an okay versatality when he looses control but at times he was a bit off when he goes crazy but at the same time shows off some nice energy.
Michael Pataki (Principal Guglione) was a natural ham in his role in which he offers some laughs especially when trying to make an announcement to his fellow grads and tries to get their attention and acting bubbly about it all. Plus he was great with his fliartatious attitude towards his onscreen secretary or acting aggressive later on behaving overwhelmed on stuff which offered some good chuckles. Plus does well with his seriousness talking to someone on some missing students changing his mode which looked okay to watch.
E.J. Peaker (Blondie) also showed off a good bubbly and comedic behavior as the school secretary as she really added alot of great spunk into whatever she did here and having a good light hearted behavior as well as interacting with others nicely along with having a nice next door type of look too.
Carmen Argenziano (Insp. Halliday) was well focused on his role as a detective offering a perfect seriousness into all that he had to be in which he showed a great focus with his discussion on some missing cases as he studied this well. Plus shows off some good energy when he had to spring into action while firing his gun which he brought it all in energetically.
Also, we get to see exploited b-horror film queen Linnea Quigley (Dolores) who struts her stuff quite well in one of her first horror films playing a trashy teenage girl as many fans adored her in this film. She does well showing off a cheeky attitude as well as having a good sleazy personality too. Plus does a nice job having fun in certain scene's. Shows off great energy when getting fridghtened and shocked after a deadly incident and offered great hyped up energy when trying to run away too.
Bill Hufsey (Tony Fisk) makes his debut here before his TV work in Fame in which he adds a good cocky type of behavior as well as getting into his dope smoking mode along with his sarcastric behavior. I always enjoyed his work as he seems on the ball. Plus had the right hunky type of looks too as a jock in the flick.
Virgil Frye (Officer MacGregor) had the right appeal as a dimwitted and dopey lawman as well as offering a perfect asshole type of attitude as well as coming across as someone whom is uttelry stupid by what he does. He for sure knew on how to make this character come to life.
Richard Balin (Mr. Roberts) had a decent comedic role as a music teacher who for sure brought on a good sleazy type of charm to his onscreen students along with having a good dorky type of attitude as well as having the right geeky looks for this part which he suited everything for it. At times he was a bit much but he stull got into his mode quite well.
Hal Bokar (Ronald Corliss) as the nasty alcoholic stepfather of Anne is also very impressive in his role as you just feel like hitting him.
Has a good edgy feel to his speaking along with his obnoxious behavior as he certainly comes off as truly intimidating and nearly violent too as his motive for this was impressive. Plus during the end of his performance he looked truly creepy.
Beverly Dixon (Elaine Ramstead) shows off a good warm and sympathetic behavior as well as seeming somehwat a basket case and trying to find the right answers for stuff in which she seemed believeable at doing. Her role come off nicely as she has a nice speaking voice to all of this along with the good wholesome looks too.

There's a brief breast shot of a teenage girl changing in the girls gym changing room but her back is turned.
character Delores takes off her top before she seduces the music teacher in order to get a good grade as well as her blouse opens up before she gets killed

The film is quite gory although it looks a little fake.
A female teen jogger has her throat slit in a Friday the 13th like fashion
A female teen gymnast gets a sword tracheotomy whilst shaving her legs in a sink
A teen male American Football player impaled on a flying football with a javelin spike attached
A male teen decapitated with a sword
A female teen decapitated with a sword
A male teen Pole-Volter impaled on bed of spikes hidden under landing matt which is one of the best slashing moments and a male teen impaled on the body of the Pole-Volter.
Also there is a corpse of a person sitting in a chair.
Blood pours out of the killers mouth after he gets killed.

The music in this film was composed by Arthur Kemple and does an amazing job with it especially during the opening credits of the film giving it a perfect sound to that kind of genre.
He shows neat thumping sounds when a killing scene is about to occur and then you hear the screeching effects when the murder is about to happen. Plus we hear metal rusty sounds too as well as classical adventureous music playing quarter way through when we spot two girls running out of the school and the killer being revealed later on showing some good timing here. like you would hear in My Bloody Valentine or of course, Friday the 13th. During the closing credits we hear cheesy but effective guitar playing as well as drumbeats which works in well for a low budget slasher film during this time period.
He also composed music for well known motion pictures like in A Cry in the Wild and The Arrival plus composed for various episodes in TV shows like in Diagnosis Murder, Father Dowling Mysteries and Falcon Crest.

Also, during the graduation party and when the character Dolores flees from the killer but gets killed during that same scene, an annoying performance by the rock group Felony was being performed as those were the days when breakdancing and roller boogie was the biggest thing back then.

Ronald Corliss: Why didn't you call us at the airport? I'd have picked you up.
Anne Ramstead: I got here all right.
Ronald Corliss: Yeah. I can see that.

Principal Guglione: What do you say I come by your place later on with a bottle of wine after you're finished. Hm?
Blondie: You know something, Mr. Guglione?
Principal Guglione: Hm?
Blondie: You are a real bastard.
Blondie: Make it around midnight.

[Sally has bungled her gymnastics lesson]
Coach George Michaels: What happened?
Sally: I'm not sure.
Coach Geoge Michaels: What do you mean you're not sure?
Sally: I don't know.
Coach George Michaels: You broke your concentration, that's what happened! I've never seen anything so sloppy!

[Two teenagers flee the boiler room]
Mr. Roberts: Come back here! Don't think I don't know who you are, because I do. Come on and show your face, you miserable scum!

Tony Fisk: [while urinating in the woods] The world's my toilet.