DIRECTOR: Larry StewartÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
SCREENPLAY: Charles Pratt Jr.
STARRING: Vera Miles, Clu Gulagher, Daphne Zuniga, James Read, Marilyn Kagan, Hunter Tylo
RUNNING TIME: 94 MinsÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Nothing confers charm more than a discrete distance of a few decades. Arrow have done themselves proud by slapping eighties horror onto shiny discs, treating them with undue reverence and yet still, somehow, evoking that sharp scent of VHS that used to greet the devoted back in the day, cracking open their puffy, plastic, rental cases to get at their shoddy eye food.
THE INITIATION is released as part of the labelâ€™s ArrowDrome line, budget releases without the trimmings of their tentpole releases (and when those include such hoary old chunks of neon and bad rubber as Tobe Hooperâ€™s THE FUNHOUSE you have to laugh… â€œSo, youâ€™re saying these films arenâ€™t quite as â€˜mainstreamâ€™ as the rest of your catalogue… Ohhhkayyy…â€)
Iâ€™d never heard of THE INITIATION (which doesnâ€™t necessarily mean anything but, you know, for a man that can get confused by his own sock drawer, my knowledge of crappy horror is surprisingly vast) and I was expecting an endurance test of hairspray and synthesizers. In some ways thatâ€™s exactly what I got but THE INITIATION is such a strange stew of ideas, plots and nonsense that I came away having thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Many compulsory boxes are ticked along the way: repressed childhood memories that Sort Of but Not Quite Hold the Secret to the Killer; grotesque sorority house shenanigans; spontaneous shower scenes; aged actors who are Better Than This, playing secretive parents; unconventional slasher weapons (a garden hand-fork); pseudo science (Dream Machines! REM! Hypnosis!); more curly hair than you can find on a German nudist beach and a lot of running and screaming. Still, the sum of the parts is an entertaining enough chunk of foolishness for those, like me, who get pleasure from such things. Which may be damning with faint praise but with me as your benchmark of cinematic worth you know what youâ€™re getting into.
Like all ArrowDrome releases, itâ€™s a bare bones disc with a booklet your only â€œbonusâ€ but thatâ€™s fine, youâ€™re here for the movie not a ninety minute recording of star, Daphne Zuniga apologising on a commentary track.