Underrated College Slashers: “The Initiation” (1984) Review

Larry Stewart directs one of my personally favorite 80’s “college” slashers, The Initiation, which was came out in 1984, and 1984 was considered the last year of the “Golden Age” of the slasher genre.

Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga) is just wanting to get into a pledge,but with bizarre and terrifying nightmares it’s hard to focus on anything else for Ms. Fairchild. Also, the fact that her family holds a dark secret that Kelly just can’t remember. On the night of Kelly and her sorority sister’s last pledge, the girls must stay the night and finish a prank in a department store that is owned by Kelly’s stepfather. But the girl’s aren’t alone because someone is watching, stalking, and killing the pledges one by one. Could this killer be a stranger or could it be someone that has emerged from Kelly’s dark family secret.

When I hear most slasher/horror fans mention slasher films, I rarely hear people talk about The Initiation except for a rare few horror fans, and if people have heard about it then they just have never seen it. In my opinion, this film is very underrated and was the last of the slasher films of 1984 that just seemed to drift away under many other slasher films. I found this to be one of the best slashers films, and one of the best “college” slasher films. The first half of the film has some slow moments,but it really starts picking up when the pledges enter the department store and the killings start really happening. Watching the film again last night, I found some of the acting to be cheesy especially coming from some of the side pledges who have some of the funnest screams I have ever seen in a horror film.

But with those moments and some other cheesy bizarre moments, I find this film to be a fun ride and I just love it!! It’s great to see Vera Miles (Psycho) and Clu Gulager (The Return of the Living Dead) make an appearance in this low budget slasher film, and the beautiful Daphne Zuniga, who also appeared in the 1980’s slasher film, The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Some slasher fans might not all love this film like I do,but if anything I think every slasher fan will have a fun time watching it. So grab some popcorn, a good drink, and some skittles while watching this early 80’s slasher gem.

–Justin Rhine