THE INITIATION (1984)
Directed by Larry Stewart
College student Kelly Fairchild decides to join the Delta Ro Kai sorority and she and all the other pledges must perform a task as part of their initiation before becoming fully-fledged sorority sisters. Though there’s growing angst between Kelly and sorority supervisor bully, Megan, Kelly has other things on her mind. Her recurring nightmare of a stranger burning to death in her mother’s bedroom when she was small prompts Kelly into seeking help from college teaching assistant Peter Adams, who’s doing a thesis on dreams. As the initiation prank gets underway, the pledges are soon in a fight for their lives with a killer on the loose.
THE INITIATION starts with a bang as we’re introduced to Kelly through her recurring nightmare. The shocking scenes really set the tone for the film, as we delve into the life of this happy-go-lucky young woman. I’ve never understood sororities and don’t suppose I ever will, but they make great fresh meat to be hacked in slasher films. The film does well to create a full character for Kelly, with her school and home life explored. Equally, her fellow sorority pledges, sisters and male friends are given screen time to allow their characters to shine through, for better or worse. The slasher aspect of the film is slowly rolled out, culminating in the big event of the film – and for Kelly – the sorority initiation task.
The recurring nightmare that plagues Kelly is quite easy to figure the first time we see it at the beginning of the movie, so when characters within the film are scratching their heads in confusion as to what it could mean, you may be tempted to scream at the TV. However, this is only a minor quibble as the action soon gets underway.
The film is quite fun and laid backed, with the cast injecting the youthful energy into the proceedings. The characters have a laugh, and so do we, watching them frolic about as young people do. Daphne Zuniga is extremely likable as protagonist Kelly and we feel for her as she not only struggles through college life but with her nightmares. It’s fortunate that she meets the handsome assistant professor Peter Adams (James Read), who’s kind, caring and sympathetic to Kelly, hoping to help in any way he can to decipher the nightmare. Kelly is surrounded by great people, except for bully Megan, who has it in for Kelly since her crush Andy took an interest in her.
Gore-hounds may be slightly disappointed with the amount of red stuff on display, but the film makes up with innovative kills, taking out their victims one by one. Panic creeps in and the viewer, like the character, are in fear of their lives, wondering who’s next on the list.
After their DVD release a couple of years ago, Arrow Video are back with a dual format release of the film on Blu-Ray as well as DVD, with the Blu-Ray offering an impressive 2k restoration of the film along with some brand new interviews with writer Charles Pratt Jr and stars Christopher Bradley (Chad) and Joy Jones (Heidi). The disc also features an extended party scene, though it has missing audio and so instead has subtitles included, and an audio commentary of the movie by The Hysteria Continues. Like most Arrow Video releases, The Initiation benefits from a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn.
The Initiation is quite an average slasher, but has a certain 80’s charm that will endear genre fans.