Sunday, June 12, 2011

#310. The Initiation (1984)

Directed By: Larry Stewart

Starring: Vera Miles, Daphne Zuniga, Clu Gulager

Tag line: "Be young stay young... and die young"

Trivia:  Producers brought in director Larry Stewart to replace the original director on the film

I admit I was a bit perplexed when, during the opening credits for 1984's The Initiation, I saw “Introducing Daphne Zuniga” flash before my eyes. My confusion stemmed from the fact that Ms. Zuniga had a small role in 1982's The Dorm That Dripped Blood, and had therefore already been “introduced” to the movie-going public. While admittedly a minor issue, it proved to be the first of many problems, and though The Initiation had a promising concept, its execution left a lot to be desired. 

Kelly (Zuniga) is a college student and sorority pledge whose been having the same nightmare for many years, one that ends with a strange man burning up in front of her. In an attempt to decipher its meaning, Kelly cozies up to a teacher's assistant named Peter (James Read), who's doing his thesis on the interpretation of dreams. At the same time, the Delta Ro Kai sorority is preparing for the final initiation of its four remaining pledges, and they've given Kelly and the others a task to perform: they must sneak into the department store owned by Kelly's father (Clu Gulager) after closing time, and steal the night watchman's uniform! Little do they know that a secret from Kelly's past has returned, a mysterious stranger who's been killing her family and friends in brutal fashion. When this stranger joins Kelly and her sorority sisters inside the department store, it leads to a night of terror that none will ever forget. 

A sorority house is about as perfect a setting for a slasher film as you can get, promising a bevvy of scantily-clad babes running for their lives from a knife-wielding maniac.  Yet The Initiation never makes full use of the setting's potential, and doesn't so much as provide a single tense moment within the sorority's walls. In addition, the central mystery of the film, which stems from Kelly's nightmare, isn't much of a mystery at all, and (with the exception of a completely ridiculous twist ending) is easy enough to figure out from the handful of clues the filmmakers spread around in the opening scenes. Of course, when it comes to slashers, many such shortcomings can be overlooked in favor of creative kill scenes. Unfortunately, The Initiation drops the ball here as well, and none of the kills (save one that occurs at the department store's information desk) are particularly memorable. 

I've always liked Daphne Zuniga, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say she delivers a great performance in The Initiation, she does display a solid screen presence, which is something that definitely works to the film's advantage. Sadly, Ms. Zuniga is one of the only pluses in what proves to be a very pedestrian slasher film. The Initiation amounts to little more than a missed opportunity.


Anonymous said...

I am a fan of Zunigah also Sir Doc lame the movie isn't worth it. I like you watch it so we don't have to because this is one I would of grabbed if I seen it.

Are your horror posts now going to be on Planet Macabre since the podcast has ended?


Dave Becker said...

@K.Zirgo: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

Daphne Zuniga definitely fares well in THE INITIATION, and establishes herself as an actress capable of carrying a movie on her back. I only wish the rest of the movie were as interesting.

As for the horror posts appearing on Planet Macabre, I admit I was flattered when Billchete asked if he could post a link to my "Sunday Horror Film" on the site. He explained that he wanted to continue posting fresh material, so that the fans of the show will know we're still around.

Which is important, seeing as we have YET ANOTHER major announcement that's coming that will surely please all fans of Planet Macabre (and us hosts as well). STAY TUNED!

Anonymous said...

1st time visitor been a diehard since ep1 bad on me, i like the blog tuns of movies for me to watchola, i will sure miss the pod,

Dave Becker said...

Hello, and thanks for the comment!

No worries about this being your first visit to the blog...I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

As for missing Planet Macabre, hopefully you won't have to miss it for very long. There's another major announcement coming, one that I'm sure you and all the fans of Planet macabre will appreciate. Continue to check out the Planet Macabre site for more details.

And thanks again for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

gEEz almost 15 $ for this disk thats outragieous -good thing u said it aint worth it -major announcement docter tell me plz is macab cuming bak

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comment!

Yeah, $15 for this movie is pretty steep. There's a double-feature disc out there, containing this movie and another, that's cheaper, but seeing as I didn't much care for THE INITIATION, and I haven't even SEEN the 2nd film, it didn't make much sense for me to post that link instead.

As for the announcement, I can't give too many specifics at this time (mostly because things are still falling into place), but there is a podcast coming that will surely please the Planet Macabre fans, one that HAS NOT YET BEEN ANNOUNCED (and yes, a certain someone who was originally going to take a break from podcasting will be involved). STAY TUNED!

Anonymous said...

Drshock I see your still rolling around Planet Macabre, actually forgot about your Sunday horror reviews here.

Can you tell me what is up with Epic Horror. It has been a week since the exclusive plug and not a darn thing done on it.

I have emailed into the Feedback support address with no response, 3 emails actually.

A post on the site here and there would be helpful for us fans.

Thank you,

Dave Becker said...

Stephen: First off, thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a comment.

I'm sorry to hear that you haven't received a response to your e-mails. The truth is, there have been some major goings-on behind the scenes this week with regards to Epic Horror, events which have led to a few changes, as well as yet ANOTHER major announcement (one that should be revealed by this time next week).

Again, it's too early to say anything more (though for the sake of you fans, I wish I could), but please know there is a podcast in the works that the listeners of Planet Macabre will undoubtedly enjoy!

Again, my sincerest apologies that you, and all fans, have been left in the dark to this point, but please know we have some great news for you all that's coming shortly. Please continue to check out the Planet Macabre web site for more details, and thanks so much for your continued support.

Take care, and you WILL be hearing from us soon!

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes DDDDDDoctor you have me excited to no end now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good thing I check Planet Macabre and DVD Infatuation often!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know when this major announcement is coming?


Anonymous said...

Hello DR glad to see your continuation of horror movies. Really excited for the launch of Epic.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comments!

@Bo: The announcement should be out by this time next week. And yes, it's one worth getting excited about! Thanks for the continued's appreciated.

@Sal: I do plan to continue posting horror films, and sticking to the same schedule I outlines on Planet Macabre (Tues., Thurs. & Sun.).

Thanks to both of you for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Journeying over from PM thought I would check my main classic man Mr. Shock out.

I read your review on this movie and surprised to see no mention of Vera Miles who was in Psycho and about 100 other movies from the 50's onward. How did she do? Is it worth it watching her performance? What part did she play?

Keep on trucking with the horror reviews Mr. Shock, I will be reading.

Dave Becker said...

Hello, and thanks for stopping by!

To be honest, Vera Miles' role was a small one (though I wouldn't go so far as to call it "insignificant", it was damn near so), and you really get the feeling she was there for her name only. She certainly doesn't detract from the film, but she doesn't really bring anything to it, either.

Thanks again for stopping by, and STAY TUNED! We have an announcement that'll surely please fans of Planet Macabre!

Anonymous said...

Good blogsite Doctor; tons of horror movies here can't believe I never checked it out.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by (hey, better lat than never!), and also for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying the selection.

Have a great day

Roy Sandefur said...

I actually knew Daphne, in the summer of 82,-- worked with her in a hamburger stand on fisherman's wharf-and she never told anyone she had been in a previous slasher movie called THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD.
She said she wanted to be in movies, yet never copped to actually HAVING been (in one).
When she landed the duel role in INITIATION, that fall--we all thought that was her first movie--She referred to it as her first movie, in subsequent interviews--and yes it says "Introducing" in the credits.

Dave Becker said...

@Roy: Thanks for sharing the story...that's pretty incredible!

I'm guessing she never discussed why she didn't acknowledge THE DORM THE DRIPPED BLOOD? I mean, her role was small in that film, and here she was the star (the only real saving grace of THE INITIATION, in my opinion). Still, it's strange (of course, I may just think it's unusual because I prefer DORM to this film...maybe Ms. Zuniga doesn't agree, or at least didn't at the time)!

Again, thanks for sharing!

Roy Sandefur said...

No!She never mentioned it to anyone.--That's what I found somewhat amazing: She was always talking about her big dreams of breaking into show business, (and, of course, some people at the hamburger stand would snigger: "Yeah, you and about a zillion OTHER girls".
And I remember her being all excited, one day, about getting head shots done, so she could "try to get acting or modeling job".
But she never mentioned that she had actually been in a real movie, already.
I even interviewed her, myself, for a local Bay Area entertainment and arts magazine, in the summer of '88, (just after she had finished the filming of FLY II, and she never mentoned it--and for years, in interviews, she would refer to INITIATION as her first movie.
I never found out about DORM till 1995, when i first got on the internet and looked up her filmography.
And then I, coincidentally, found the DORM vhs tape for sale in the $1.98 bin, in a grocery store.
I guess she wasn't that proud of it--don't know why--it was a fine movie (as idiot sick slasher movies go). And I thought she was great in INITIATION, too.
Even if I DO say so myself. hehehe

Roy Sandefur said...

Ya know--it's funny:
When she showed up at the hamburger stand, in May of '82, I asked her how old she was, and she said "Twenty", and then quickly added, "Just turned."
-which, i found out years later, was a little fib--she was actually 19 (and a half--hehehe)...
she was born Oct. 28th, 1962....
when you see those first scenes, in INITIATION, that girl yer looking at is minutes over 20.---MINUTES!
(as far as i can figure, they started filming that in November, 1982, or thereabouts)
and THEN, when i found her again, in 1988, every bio that was printed about her listed her birthdate as 1963.
THAT went on for a year or two....
I remember remarking to her, shortly after first seeing those bios: "Gee Daphne, look at the profession you've got yerself into: 19 is too young, and 26 is too old!"


Damian said...

Another great post. Oh how I do enjoy this place. Quick in, quick out, if need be. And always quality stuff.

I saw THE INITIATION when I was on one of my Clu Gulager films sprees (yes, I had more than one)back in the day.
I also prefer DORM. So it is written, so shall it be.

Dave B. said...

Damian: Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words. I certainly appreciate them!

Wow...a Clu Gulager film spree! That's a new one on me (but I'm guessing it was pretty interesting). What's your favorite of his movies?

And yes...DORM was the better film!

Thanks again!