DVD Review: THE INITIATION (1984)

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

Review: The Initiation / Cert: 18 / Director: Larry Stewart / Screenplay: Charles Pratt Jr. / Starring: Daphne Zuniga, James Read, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager / Release Date: Out Now

The Initiation focuses on Kelly (Zuniga), a troubled college kid with a murky past. For as long as she can remember, she has had a recurring nightmare about a strange man burning alive. Added to this, she has just joined a college sorority and has to face up to the initiation task that is being asked of her – to break into her father’s department store. Seeking the help of kind, understanding professor-cum-dream expert Peter, Kelly decides to man-up and take on the stupid initiation. Only thing is, once inside the department store, her and her friends become stalked by a mysterious figure intent on bloodshed.

It’s safe to say The Initiation is most definitely a film of its time. Initially released in 1984, it has a constant vibe of the original Prom Night or one of John Carpenter’s earlier efforts – hell, there’s even a poster of Tom Selleck and his magnificent bastard of a moustache in one of the rooms. As with so many similar films of the day, The Initiation often finds itself relying on quick, juttery cuts when it comes to action scenes. This is both a charm and a hindrance; those who are fans of 1980s horror will appreciate it, whilst others may find it a tad off-putting. Hey, it worked for Hitchcock, right?

The quick cuts add to the frantic nature of the attacks, and they are accompanied by a typically '80s score, again in the Carpenter-lite mould. Sadly, the score really doesn’t stand up so well, often taking away from the action as a result. Despite this, The Initiation still manages to keep your attention for the most part, with some gruesome-in-an-'80s way kills. Again, this is where the fast-paced, quickly cut scene placements come to fruition to make the scenes impactful and brutal.

The film is, for the most part, a well-paced, nicely developed little feature, with the token '80s twist thrown in for good measure at the end. One slight gripe, though, is that it does seem to take a little while to actually get to the meaty point of the story. Not to worry too much, as there are still deaths aplenty throughout.

Surprisingly, the performances of all on show are very good for a film of this nature, with Zuniga (who would later go on to Spaceballs and Melrose Place) and Read particularly shining. And if you find that this film still doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, it’s worth checking out purely for the most fantastic penis fancy dress outfit that you will likely ever see. 

Extras: Trailer


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