The Initiation (1984) DVD Review

initiation1The Initiation (1984)

Dir. Larry Stewart – 94 minutes

Starring – Daphne Zuniga, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, James Read, Marilyn Kagan, Hunter Tylo.

UK DVD Release – August 5th


Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga) is new at college and has joined the Delta Ro Kai sorority house . She has also suffered all her life from a recurring nightmare that has her mother and father in a bedroom and also a strange man burning to death in front of her.

When she starts college she has an initiation to her sorority, her sorority also have an initiation night prank and as Kelly’s father (Clu Gulager) owns the local shopping mall then Kelly is issued with the task of getting the keys to the mall and breaking in to steal the night-watchman’s uniform.

While at college Kelly meets assistant professor Peter (James Read) who is studying for his thesis on the interpretation of dreams. He has lots of equipment in his room and offers Kelly the chance to try and work out what is behind the recurring nightmare and what it’s real meaning is!



Also from a nearby mental asylum there is a mass breakout and a man armed with a 3 pronged hand-held garden weeder (often the weapon of choice for the criminally insane asylum gardener) is on the loose killing all in his path and seemingly on a collison course with Kelly and her family.

When the college girls (and some boys too) get into the mall they find they are not alone and are in for a night they will never forget – well the ones who survive !!

The Initiation is from the heyday of American Slashers. This is pure unadulterated slice & dice fun, but does have a very interesting back story that plays out nicely in the film. There are some great kills and also the acting is pretty good for this genre.

Daphne Zuniga (Sure Thing, Fly 2 & Spaceballs) is superb as Kelly who is a spoilt , goody-goody all American girl with a vulnerability that is often lacking from Slashers . Her relationship with the assistant professor Peter is key and holds the film together as well as giving the viewer the clues to the back story of Kelly and her family.

Director Larry Stewart was a TV director and as far as I know this was his only foray into feature films and indeed Slashers. But that said The Initiation is a well made, fun and bloody teen slasher. The kills are executed with a degree of originality and the setting of the mall works as a large labyrinth of empty shops (all unlocked) in which the kids are terrorised and ultimately stalked & hunted by a madman.


initiation3A great addition to a slashers fans collection and a worthy addition to a horror fans library also. Arrowdrome who release this in the UK continue to choose interesting and relatively obscure yet relevant horror films to release and long may this continue.

A brilliant old-school slasher that still stands up today and is well worth picking up.

Verdict 7/10

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About Andy Deen

A horror fan for as far back as I can remember . The first things that scared me were Doctor Who and the BBC ghost stories . As an early teen the video revolution came along and with it the Video Nasty campaign , and through all that I immersed myself in all things nasty. I love Slashers, Haunted House Stories and Devil Worshipping/Panic Films . I watch too much horror , listen to loud Heavy Metal and enjoy the odd tattoo \m/\m/

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