Blu-ray Movie Review – The Initiation (1984)

The Initiation
Directed by Larry Stewart
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1984
Blu-ray Release Date: November 8, 2016


Watching these old 80s horror flicks really takes me back to my youth. I had an emotionally rough childhood (don’t ask), therefore my mom was content to frequently drop me off at the movie theater on Saturdays with enough money to watch two or three films. Thus, I got to experience many of these glorious titles on the big screen.

THE INITIATION is a classic slasher flick that eluded me, however, therefore I didn’t get the pleasure of viewing it until this past weekend. And I have to admit: it is definitely one of the better entries into the genre for its time period. But besides that, it’s simply a lot of fun. The film doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is, and it offers decent acting, some nice special effects, and a clever twist. If you’re looking for a good, vintage 80s horror flick, give THE INITIATION a try.

If you are not familiar with THE INITIATION, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

Marking TV star Daphne Zuniga’s debut in a leading role, The Initiation ranks amongst the finest of the college-based stalk-and-slash flicks now finally restored in glorious High-Definition!

Kelly’s new sorority has a special initiation ritual in store for her: an after-hours break-in of her father’s department store. But what begins as a night of harmless college fun turns sour when, once inside the enormous mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in for the night… with a deadly intruder stalking the corridors.

Arriving in 1984, The Initiation might have been late to the slasher party, but, alongside the likes of The House on Sorority Row and The Mutilator, it remains one of the stronger entries to emerge in the latter days of the slice-and-dice boom.

THE INITIATION is shot well and looks good onscreen. As with most of the Arrow films I’ve reviewed, the HD transfer looks excellent for the most part; there’s just a couple of grainy scenes, and they are primarily low-light shots. Surprisingly, the credits sequences (both at the start of the film and the end) are pocked with small particle flashes and such. I’m not sure why these weren’t corrected in the HD transfer…perhaps because they are white letters against a black background. This doesn’t detract from the film, but is more of a personal inquiry.

The acting in THE INITIATION is good, above average for slasher flicks of this period. Daphne Zuniga, who will forever be Princess Vespa in SPACEBALLS to me, does a great job as the lead character, Kelly. She is joined by screen legends Clu Gulager and Vera Miles, who are both always a joy to see in any film. Zuniga is likewise supported by a great cast that includes Marilyn Kagan, Robert Dowdell, Hunter Tylo, and James Read.

The special effects are well done, and we are given a nice dose of gore here and there. I particularly like the scene where one of the guys is stabbed in the neck with a small rake. This is gruesome and funny.

The plot of THE INITIATION is typical of an 80s slasher: a group of college students are hunted down by an unknown assailant and killed in a variety of manners. But the “whodunit” aspect of this film is particularly clever. Granted, it does seem to come from out of left field, but it certainly works. I actually caught myself grinning as the big reveal was disclosed.

THE INITIATION is a great slasher flick, and fans of 80s horror will definitely find this a worthy addition to their libraries. Arrow and MVD once again deliver the quality entertainment that genre fans have come to expect. I can’t wait to see what they bring us next. THE INITIATION has some slick Special Edition features that include:

• Brand new restoration from original film elements
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
• Brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley
• Brand new interview with actress Joy Jones
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver


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