Arrow Video have confirmed that Larry Stewart's The Initiation will be released on UK DVD on Monday, August 5th, via their ArrowDrome imprint. I myself have been looking for this slasher movie for a long time with no luck. The cover, depicting a hand holding a melting candle in the shape of a naked woman certainly struck a chord with me in my younger years, but alas, my parents never rented the movie for me. Luckily for me, Arrow Video have been kind enough to provide a screener so I can review this 80's classic slasher film for you all.
Like any blossoming all-American girl, Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga) is looking forward to her sorority initiation with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. And she's got every reason to be anxious considering the prank her Delta Ro Kai sorority sisters have tasked her with - a late night break-in of her father's department store. At first, everything goes to plan, but once inside the labyrinthian mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in, and they are not alone. Who is the stranger stalking Kelly and her randy teen friends throughout the department stores shadowy corridors? And how is this unseen assailant connected with Kelly's terrible recurring nightmares of a man burning in agony?
I love slasher movies, and I am so happy I have finally got to view this. The tension in the movie is almost unbearable, and it contains some rather brutal killings. What more could you ask for in a slasher movie? Nudity? Yes, of course this movie has that. It is an 80's slasher film after all. There are some things which never change! This movie never seems to get a mention when people talk about slasher movies, and for that reason, I feel The Initiation is incredibly underrated, because it certainly isn't a bad movie.
The Initiation follows the traditional slasher blueprint to a T, rarely deviating from the rules laid down a few years before. Because it follows this formula so closely, it endears itself and creates a misty eyed feeling of nostalgia. This is a slasher film made by slasher fans for slasher fans. That much is apparent from the very first scene of the movie. There also seems to be an underlying theme of repression, as every character seems to suffer from some kind of repressed memory or desire that haunts them.
The setting of the mall is incredibly spooky. How something so clean, clinical and normal as a shopping mall can become so empty, terrifying and full of sinister shadows is a testament to just how good the filmmakers are. They truly make the setting a creepy and unnerving place.The characters are all well established before being killed off, which makes their deaths much more shocking and tugs at the viewers heartstrings a little more than your average slasher. The movie also features Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead, Feast trilogy, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's revenge) and Vera Miles (Psycho and Psycho 2).
The Initiation is a great slasher movie. In fact, it is probably a lot greater than many give it credit for. The element of mystery involved is something different, and the variety of death scenes is something to behold. It manages to keep you guessing, and the twist at the end is certainly a big shock and managed to catch me off guard. Unlike other 80's slashers though, the focus isn't on how people are dying, it is on who is doing the killing, and again, this works to the movies advantage.
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