An early cheapie production from Troama, which would account for some bad humor, Graduation Day is obviously meant to capitalize on the slasher phenomenon of the day (even centering around an annual event like Halloween) but with little to no care for manufacturing either suspenseful atmosphere, creative kills or characters that are not just undeveloped, but not even recognizable. Though oddly the editing is really experimental and mostly top notch. I’ve worked on low budget horror films (my uncle is a frequent director of Direct to Video genre fare), so I am very forgiving of the necessities of cutting corners, however, save for the actors I was familiar with prior to watching and the sister, not a single character made any impression, thus their deaths only resulted in me asking: is this a character we’ve seen before? With the opening montage being free of dialogue, there’s never any scene establishing characters or their relationship. Most of the time when we meet someone, it’s before they’re about to be killed off. It appears the film was structured around a given actor’s availability and not storytelling. To make matters worse, the film is overstuffed with characters like a pervy music teacher and befuddled principal that bare no impact on the story other than increasing the runtime to a painfully slow ninety minute mark. There’s not even a cool Michael Myers mask, as most of the murders are shot from the killer’ POV.
Thirty years later, Graduation Day’s main draw is seeing early performances from future 80’s scream queen Linnea Quigley (who in a sign of the frustrating nature of the film, plays a character I am not sure was either a member of the track squad and/or killed) and future letter-turner Vanna White. But of most interest to me, was another role for famed Enter the Ninja’s ninja desiring baddie, Christopher George, who continued his commitment to chewing scenery and taking names in 1981!