As I went to 6th form college and University in England all my collected knowledge when it comes to American college’s comes from movies, classic movies such as Animal House, The House Bunny, Revenge of the Nerds, The Skulls and Van Wilder: Party Liaison among many many others.
In all these films a few rules are very clear. 1. The college is divided up into stereotypical groups mainly consisting of jocks, nerds, cheerleaders and pot heads to name a few. 2. There are always campus Fraternities for guys and Sororities for girls which all have silly Greek names and everyone is desperate to get into the cool kid/rich kid ones for some unknown reason to do with making contacts for getting a job or something. 3. To get into said Fraternity or Sorority you have to perform a series of pranks to pass the initiation which brings us perfectly to the reason for this whole review the 1984 slasher The Initiation.
As you can guess The Initiation is set in a college where plucky teen Kelly (Spaceballs and Fly 2 star Daphne Zuniga) is trying to prove her worth, pass her classes and get into Delta Ro Kai sorority (I told you they had silly Greek names!)
After making it through every test so far the final few including Kelly and her friends must face the last challenge, breaking into her father’s massive department store and steal the security guards uniform.
Studying psychology in part to try to understand the dream that has plagued her her whole life Kelly meets an assistant professor Peter (played by James Reed) who tries to help her interpret what it all means.
With the past becoming clearer everything catches up with Kelly on the night of the prank where she must face a lot more than just her visions as someone or something is murdering the people around her and is heading for the same store as she is to finish what began so long ago.
The Initiation combines all the 80’s slasher and college movie tropes you would expect including blood, boobs, promiscuous teens, killer POV’s, maniacs in a sanitarium, bad gags, puerile pranks, a come as your repressed desire party and plenty of gore.
What sets the movie apart from other slashers is its structure with a heavy amount of time spent with Peter psychoanalysing Kelly and her nightmare including her having hypnosis and her sleep being monitored. What helps is that Zuniga is an excellent actress and extremely likable making her exploration into her own psyche at least engaging if not riveting.
All this cod psychology may seem a bit frustrating when it is obvious from the start the truth behind Kelly’s reoccurring violent visions and unfortunately the low lever of murders and mayhem in this first hour may leave some horror fans a bit bored.
That said the final act once the teens and the killer are all inside the massive mall is a bloody belter with some sensational stalk and slash scenes in the amazing setting which is horrifically huge as the murderer grabs all sorts of weapons to hunt the randy and annoying kids leading to a brilliant climax that more than pays off the opening.
In fact of all the 80’s slashers that have been remade unnecessarily The Initiation is ripe for a reboot and rewrite with more weight on the ending and less Freudian dream interpretation it could finally live up to its full potential.
That said The Initiation is still a great cult movie perfect for slasher fans and 80’s addicts alike.
Delta Ro Kai forever!