The Initiation (1984)
What’s It About: Here’s some good advice if you find yourself in a horror movie: do not join a sorority/fraternity. In the horror movie universe, joining a sorority/fraternity is the leading cause of death among college students ages 18-22. Don’t pledge your life away.
We start with a girl in bed! She’s 9 though so don’t get excited. She walks in on Clu Gulager banging her mom, then stabs him in the leg. Then her real dad angrily bursts in and Clu sets him on fire kind of by accident. Cut to Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) being jolted awake by this nightmare/memory, and straight into another nightmare: a sorority pledge. They’re all holding candles and chanting “Delta Rho Chi will never die.” You know what? I bet some of them die.
By the way, did college girls in the ’80s really wear skimpy teddies to bed?
Kelly Fairchild is a rich girl who gets treated like crap, especially by the head of the sorority, Megan, who looks like she’s 43 years old (like John in… ugh… Ghoulies). Kelly’s pledging with a whore, a virgin and some random girl who doesn’t really matter. Megan wants them to break into Kelly’s dad’s department store to steal the night watchman’s uniform, which makes no f-ing sense and the illegality doesn’t merit the pointless outcome. However, the whore of the group has heard that the night watchman is a stud. Why would they hear about the night watchman?
Next thing we know, Kelly’s real dad is in front of a nuthouse, planting flowers (?) and taunting one of the inmates, which sends all the nuts into a frenzy. Somehow later that night, all the nuts get out, and the killer (Kelly’s dad, the audience assumes?) kills Nurse Ratched.
The killer’s weapon of choice is a hand cultivator for gardening, the same one Kelly’s dad was using. I had to look up what that was called, since I’ve always just referred to it as the “three-pronged fork digger thing.” They’re usually not all that sharp, so it’s a weird thing to use for murder, but probably a better choice than a rake or a Garden Weasel.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s whining about her nightmares to her mom and Clu Gulager (who she believes is her father) and a studly professor at college, Mr. Adams. Kelly has no actual memory of the infidelity/fireball incident because she fell out of a treehouse when she was 9. But she has these nightmares and when she looks in a mirror she kind of goes catatonic. It must take her forever to get ready in the morning.
Now, let’s take a break here and discuss the most overused cliche in horror movie history: looking away from a bathroom mirror, then back at it and someone’s behind you. This must be in at least 1,700 horror films, and I can’t imagine anyone who has seen a horror movie before could still be scared by it, since you know if someone looks into a bathroom mirror something else is going to appear in that mirror in a few seconds. It’s like being scared of the pins falling down after you roll a bowling ball.
Anyway, back to the picture. Clu Gulager is cheating again, and that’s really going to burn Kelly’s mom. But no time for love, Dr. Gulager, because you just got a hand-cultivated throat and then your head cut off in your own driveway. Cheaters never prosper.
Then, at 33:50 in, finally some boob in a horror movie about a sorority house. Do college girls really walk around buck naked in front of each other? Must do more research. Unfortunately, you can tell Daphne Zuniga isn’t going to show anything.
Let’s check the notes I made at this point: “Is Megan Karen Black?” “This is f***ing boring.” “Just checked my notes to see if I wrote ‘This is f***ing boring’ yet.”
So the sorority girls head to some weird party where some people are in costumes and some are not. It’s supposed to be a “suppressed desires” theme but people are dressed like pirates and stuff. Confusing. One guy is dressed like an malformed penis.
Of course, Kelly and Mr. Adams make it with each other (because so many of my professors in college went to underage parties), which leads her to agree to be in one of his sleep experiments. The next day Kelly goes under and reveals her dream to Mr. Adams. Mr. Adams has a weird, chubby assistant, Heidi, who looks like she pleasures herself with a glass beaker during these sleep experiments. Kelly’s mom comes into the room for some reason and threatens to have Mr. Adams arrested and fired, which makes no sense. Mr. Adams deduces that Kelly has a split personality, hence the mirror thing.
Finally back at the sorority, they’re going through with this dumb breaking in thing I guess. I thought/hoped that they had just kind of forgotten about it. Kelly, the virgin and the whore go to the Fairchild Building to steal the security guard’s uniform for reasons unknown. This is an enormous building for a department store, like the size of a small town eight stories high, and it has one security guard? But soon it has no security guards, because he’s killed. Why?
Megan and three really dorky frat dudes go to the building to try to scare the other girls. Two of the guys run off to scare them, while Megan and the other dork stay behind to make it on some area rugs. Of course, this means they have to die. It’s in the horror movie handbook. The dork gets a hatchet to the head and Megan gets an arrow through the boob. Looks like the killer has put the hand cultivator back in the toolshed for now. The killer picked up these weapons in the department store, which apparently sells everything from sporting goods to ugly furniture to ugly clothes to ugly wine.
Those still alive have a dinner party, for some reason, and drink to “dying young.” Ooooooookay…
The virgin flatlines the party by telling everyone she was raped at age 12 by her violin teacher. She runs off, then the whore and another dork make a dick joke, immediately after the virgin reveals she was raped at age 12. Then another dork runs after the virgin and puts the moves on her, IMMEDIATELY AFTER SHE REVEALS SHE WAS RAPED AT AGE 12.
Apparently nobody can just leave because Megan had the keys. So? How do you get locked IN??
Anyway, the Dork #2 goes off to take a leak and dies. Then the whore discovers the bodies and freaks. She calls for Kelly, but Kelly doesn’t seemed that bothered by it and finds her name written in blood on a mirror. The whore gets brutally stabbed and screams over the intercom, which is inter-cut with a scene of the virgin in pain while having sex. I guess that child rape story really turned that guy on. Then he’s ironically penetrated by a harpoon gun.
So now it’s just running around and Mr. Adams racing around to yell at Kelly’s mom because he and Heidi found out about Kelly’s past, then he races to the Fairchild Building, even though he shouldn’t have any idea that she’s in danger at that point.
The (former) virgin is dragged off and killed, then Kelly’s dad finally shows his burned up face and chases Kelly, but doesn’t seem to want to kill her. So she hits him with a pipe and knocks him off a roof. Parenthood is tough.
Mr. Adams runs in the building and finds Kelly, but now she’s wearing the killer’s sweatshirt and looks crazy. Here comes the BIG TWIST. She stabs Mr. Adams in the gut as he’s hugging her. And original Kelly runs in and looks at herself! I’m seeing double! FOUR Kellys!
Soooo I guess Kelly has a twin, who was in the nuthouse, escaped and has been killing at random, and the burned dad has been cleaning up after her? Evil Kelly explains that she’s going to kill Kelly and take over Kelly’s life, which would fool people for about 86 seconds, but Kelly’s dumb mom shows up and finally does something useful by shooting Evil Kelly. Now she doesn’t have to buy two gifts at Christmas.
And then the movie just sort of ends. No explanation of the twin sisters thing. Mr. Adams seemingly lives, and Kelly’s dumb mom is taken away by the cops. The end credits list Daphne Zuniga as playing “Kelly (Terry).” OK…
Is It Actually Scary: Nope. It’s plodding and lacks suspense, and you know that the main character is going to be the sole survivor.
Scariest Moment: The short shower scene that highlights the lack of shaving razors at the sorority house.
How Much Gore: Really not that much except for when the whore is killed, which is a total splatterfest. Other than that there’s blood in the killings, but fairly minimal.
Dumbest Moment: Every line of dialogue that comes out of Kelly’s mother’s mouth, such as “Fairchilds always look better with a tan” and explaining that Kelly’s dreams were “Probably because of all of the excitement.”
Any Nudity: The whore is naked twice, which is good and all, but there’s nowhere near the amount of nudity you’d expect from a sorority slasher flick. FOR SHAME.
Overall: Not the worst stalking slasher flick I’ve ever seen, but it’s not that good. The plot seems stitched together and there’s very little suspense. So it commits the damnable horror movie sin of being pretty boring. The twist at the end really makes no sense, and it’s made worse by the decision just to end the movie without explaining it whatsoever.
By the way, the poster for this movie is pretty good, but it really doesn’t have much to do with the actual plot (neither does the title itself, really). It makes it seem like a murderer is going after the members of a sorority house, when in fact the sorority isn’t that big a part of the movie.Score: 4.5 hand cultivators (out of 10)
Here’s a fun game for all of my Schlocktoberfest reviews: drink every time I use the word “sense” or “reason.” They usually follow “makes no” and “for some,” respectively.
I like this movie, probably for the wrong reasons. Mr. Adams was HOT and more slashers should take place in malls. The twin twist is dumb, though.
Yeah a mall is a good setting for a slasher flick. I did a review of Chopping Mall last Schlocktoberfest which I guess is slasher with robots, although the poster and title made it look like a more traditional slasher.
Hahahaaa, this review made me laugh so hard! This is in my queue but I don’t know if I want to watch it anymore…Also my professors sometimes came to underage parties but then I was in the drama department and there were all sorts of inappropriate shenanigans happening there.
Awesome, thanks! Maybe you should watch it to relive your college days of when professors came to your parties and you had an evil twin who killed everyone.
*sighs* Those were the days…I miss my evil twin sometimes.
Don’t worry, she’s still out there………..
This movie looks weird even with the sound down.
It’s pretty paint-by-numbers in the slasher genre. The odd burned dad is the weirdest thing.
So there isn’t a scene with a giant holding a girl with a flame burning on her head? pfft! False advertising!
Close, it’s a normal guy holding an extremely tiny girl with extraordinarily long legs.
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if a movie about sorority house killings doesn’t have a lot of nudity in then it’s not worth our time. Period. Up yours, stupid movie!!
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