GRADUATION DAY (1981) Reviews and overview



Graduation Day is a 1981 American slasher horror feature film directed by ex-rabbi Herb Freed (Beyond Evil) from a screenplay co-written with Anne Marisse. It stars Christopher George, Patch Mackenzie and Michael Pataki. Future ‘Scream Queen’ Linnea Quigley makes an early appearance.

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After a high school track runner, named Laura, suddenly dies from a heart attack after finishing a 30-second 200-meter race, a killer wearing a sweat suit and a fencing mask begins killing off her friends on the school track team one by one.

The suspects include the track coach Michaels, Laura’s sister Anne who arrives in town for the funeral, the creepy school principal Mr. Guglione, and Laura’s strange boyfriend Kevin…

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The blonde girl in the number 46 track jersey was cut out of the film as much as possible since she was fired due to refusal to fulfill the nudity requirements. Linnea Quigley was hired to replace her.

The film grossed $23,894,000 in its domestic market against its $250,000 budget, making it a massive box office success.

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Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

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” …this is a picture littered with strange little moments that I keep returning to when I need something just a little different while serving up the typical slasher mystery and tropes. Plus any movie that has the sense to cast Christopher George as a cranky coach, Michael Pataki as a weird Principal, Linnea Quigley as the school slut and Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White as a giggly for-no-apparent-reason student is absolute tops in my book.” Cinema du Meep

“When the viewer isn’t being abused by Graduation Day‘s “stylistic” cutting, director Herb Freed permits his narrative to lapse into self-indulgence. Portraying the nasty school principal, Michael Pataki engages in comedy interlude in his office that is neither comedic nor, technically, an interlude. It goes on and on endlessly, replete with unfunny schtick […] The climax also fails to elevate Graduation Day above mediocrity, and that’s a generous assessment.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s | |

“It is by no means the worst entry in the slasher genre. After all, there are countless efforts where the picture is too dark that it is almost impossible to make out what is happening on screen. But the fault lies with every aspect of the film, from its script right through to the score (composed by Arthur Kempel, who would later work on Wacko and Double Impact).” Retro Slashers

“Director Herb Freed does pull off some stylish panache in the editing room toward the beginning and again at the climax, but drops the ball with the rest of the scenes, opting instead to shoot and arrange them like a boring after-school special. More notable for the few early star appearances and music numbers than any horror-tinged moment (the ten-minute song at the roller disco is priceless)…” Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie


“The twist in revealing the killer to the audience, but not the other characters, is madcap, as is the final chase, and most of all, a creative game of dress up with a corpse.  The insane glee guarantees you will never forget Graduation Day. And that’s a good thing, as it’s a hoot.” Death Ensemble

Cast and characters:

  • Patch Mackenzie as Anne Ramstead
  • E. Danny Murphy as Kevin Badger
  • Christopher George as Coach George Michaels – Pieces; MortuaryCity of the Living Dead; Day of the Animals; et al
  • Michael Pataki as Principal Guglione – Halloween 4; Zoltan… Hound of Dracula; The Bat People; Grave of the VampireDream No Evil
  • E. J. Peaker as Blondie
  • Linnea Quigley as Dolores
  • Denise Cheshire as Sally
  • Billy Hufsey as Tony Fisk
  • Tom Hintnaus as Peter
  • Vanna White as Doris
  • Karen Abbott as Joanne
  • Linda Shayne as Paula Brentwood – Humanoids from the Deep
  • Richard Balin as Mr. Rodgers
  • Carmen Argenziano as Inspector Halliday
  • Virgil Frye as Officer MacGregor
  • Carl Rey as Ralph Johnson
  • Erica Hope as Diana
  • Beverly Dixon as Elaine Ramstead
  • Hal Bokar as Roland Corliss

Watch whole film free online via YouTube