EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on July 5, 2018. Graduation Day was not produced by Cannon but was theatrically distributed by Cannon Releasing Corporation.
By 1981, all manner of slasher had been slashed. From dates on the calendar to holidays to high school, college, probably every trade schools, if you could kill someone someplace on some special day, there was a great chance that cinemas, drive-in and video stores had documented evidence of the murders. But a track team getting offed? What a twist!
At one of their track meets, star runner Laura Ramstead collapses at the finish line, pushed too hard by her coach and dying of exhaustion. Soon, her sister Anne is on leave from the Navy, back home with the mother and stepfather she desperately wanted to leave behind.
Meanwhile, a killer is wiping out the track team one by one, complete with giallo-like black gloves and a stopwatch. With each kill, he or she uses bright lipstick to cross another member off of the team’s photo. If Anne has gloves just like the killer, is it all a coincidence? Hmm?
There are all manner of people of interest, from Kevin, Laura’s boyfriend, to Dolores (Linnea Quigley!) the team’s bad girl and Principal Gugilone (Michael Pataki, who is in almost every movie that we watch), who has a stopwatch and plenty of knives in his desk drawer. And oh yeah, Coach Michaels (Christopher George, Gates of Hell/City of the Living Dead, Day of the Animals, Mortuary, Pieces, pretty much every movie that I watch that doesn’t have Michael Pataki in it, so this is a rare crossover), who isn’t allowed to coach any longer, despite the fact that it was a blood clot that really killed Laura.
Hey look! There’s Vanna White as a school bully! And more dead bodies! Soon, Kevin and Coach Michaels get into a huge argument over who the killer is, but the cops get there and shoot the wrong guy. Yep, it’s Kevin and he has Laura’s corpse all made up in her graduation cap and gown. He also has a sweet Vampirella poster on his wall.
A fight ensues and Anne ends up pushing Kevin into spikes — but not before body after body is revealed. That night, he comes back to kill her — an undead version of him at least — but it’s all a dream. It’s just her asshole stepfather, which makes it even easier to leave the town behind forever.
I ended up liking this one way more than I thought that I would. It has some elements of style, plenty of gore and lots of ridiculous moments, like a bed of spikes killing a high jumper. Plus, there’s a heavy metal concert with the band Felony, a roller disco scene and a combination football/knife murder weapon. Truly, something for every member of the family to enjoy. Director Herb Freed also gave us Tomboy and Haunts.