The Initiation (1984) (Blu-ray film review).

November 8, 2016 | By | Reply More

I never really understand American university fraternity initiations but there are certainly enough films about them as ‘The Initiation’ shows from 1984. A group of girls are sent in to one of their wealthy pledges’ father’s department store to steal the nightwatchman’s uniform. Then there’s a little matter of a mad killer removing them one by one. Seven inmates from an asylum escaped and one of them is a relative to one of the girls. Join the dots.


Kelly Fairchild (actress Daphne Zuniga) can also not remember anything before her 9th birthday having been traumatised by seeing her…well, just how much do you say which isn’t spoiler. Peter Adams (actor James Read), one of the graduate students discovers, doing an experiment, she has concealed memories. Then a bunch of the girls, followed by their boyfriends break into the store and start being removed one by one in true slasher movie fashion.

The worrying thing is this is most characters who are essentially cameod cannonfodder that you don’t really care or if they live or die. Despite the misdirection, it’s not that difficult to work out who the killer is but it will still throw you at the end.

Oh, actor Robert Dowdell (him from ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’) is in the mix somewhere. Just a shame his distinctive voice isn’t used much.

There are six extras on the blu-ray disc. The first is a 21 minute interview with scriptwriter Charles Pratt, Jr., who follows in the tradition of his father who wrote ‘Willard’ (1971). ‘The Initiation’ was made to make quick money over 14 days, with the original director Peter Crane replaced by Larry Stewart after 3 days for being too slow. Pratt describes how it started his career and other details. An 18 minute interview with actor Christopher Bradley. An extended scene from the party and the trailer. Bits and pieces really but, 32 years ago, people never thought films would last long after a show at the cinema.

The Hysteria Continuum does the audio commentary has members from the UK and one from the USA discussing the film. They fill in a lot of details, mostly from the British perspective which might amuse our American audience. After all, we don’t have sororities over here so although seen a lot in American films, the real activity is still pretty alien to us. Such groups do tend to come over as the big bad wolf to avoid so you have to wonder on their continual popularity at universities. I mean, do they do anything other than humiliate recruits and party? Slasher movies only really went strong for 6 years. A lot of information is thrown in with a lot of facts about it and the films around the period.

I practically never saw most of these films at their original release or, as these were never shown on British TV, on video. Outside of the ‘Elm Street’ movies, I can’t recall them being particularly popular over here come to that. Even allowing for age, the violence is either mostly off-screen or over so quickly you’re onto the next scene so you do have to wonder why some of them were banned.

GF Willmetts

November 2016

(region B blu-ray/region 2 DVD: pub: Arrow Films. 1 dvd/blu-ray 97 minute film with extras. Price: £19.99 (UK). UK Cat: FCD1382)

subtitles: english

cast: Vera Mills, Clu Gulager and Daphne Zuniga

check out website: http://


Category: Films, Horror

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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