Friday, March 2, 2012


Problems. I know I have them. I'm sure you do, too. But I like to think problems are what define us as individuals. After all, they say to err is human. Problems are completely characteristic, as we are defined by our struggles. I completely accept this, and I think it's why I find films like "The Initiation" so absolutely lovable. This movie has several problems on every level of production, but the entire affair is executed with such gusto that you can easily forgive a few visible boom mics. Some of the wooden performances are delightfully augmented by lingering or odd shot selections that are unintentionally hilarious. And foremost, the finale delivers a so-called twist without any sort of grace or even logic, rendering it bizarre enough to be amazing. This is an absolutely human piece of film making for all of its errors. It is REAL personality personified, and a completely joyful experience due mainly to many of its fuck ups.

Shit-hot Daphne Zuniga ("The Dorm That Dripped Blood," "Spaceballs,") stars here in her first primary role as Kelly Fairchild, a stressed out college student who's pledging a sorority with a couple of friends. While the title suggests that the core of the film revolves around some ominous rite, the focus is really on Kelly's nightmares, which are later revealed to be suppressed memories of a traumatic event that spawned an early childhood bout of amnesia. Conveniently, some lunatic has escaped a sanitarium and seems and is leaving a bloody wake that's heading Kelly's way. This death merchant eventually tracks their primary target to the Dallas International Market, where an after hours initiation prank is unfolding. That's about this flick hits the nitro on the body count.

By the way, if it was made in Texas, I automatically love it.

Nudity? In the trailer? Fuck yeah!

While nowhere near as strong or well-formed, "The Initiation" reminded me of "Girls Nite Out" (also on Thorn EMI) with respect to its attempt to develop a bond between the audience and its characters. It is the exposition with Kelly and the cast of supporting characters which most regular horror fans reject - a complaint that also hangs like a millstone around the neck of "Girls Nite Out." However, it is the character development in my opinion which strengthens the actual final quarter of both of these films and puts them on a shelf that overlooks most other slasher flicks. Like I've said before, if you're not cheering for the protagonist, films of this nature become a spectacle akin to feeding Christian's to the lions, and you have to be mentally deficient to really get into that sort of thing. The frat party scene, where everyone comes dressed as a repressed desire, is particularly entertaining. It not only breathes a little depth into the people we're seeing, but it's actually pretty funny. Particularly notable is the guy dressed like a giant penis. I honestly think horror films work best when they give us strange excursions that feel ordinary or fun before driving us into the heart of terror. Like ginger for the pallet, these scenarios totally cleanse us of apprehension and really enhance the tension that follows. Good horror lowers your security before pouncing, and I think "The Initiation" scores big points by doing just that.

The righteous Clu Gulager is also a main selling point here. The poster and box art for this film are also really incredible, and really demonstrates how shitty everything has gotten. Now all you get is a photo capture and a cruddy font. Such a bummer, and probably a huge reason why VHS is making such a major comeback.

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