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Film / Graduation Day

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A Troma produced Slasher Movie from 1981.

A student of Midvale High dies from a bloodclot after she finishes a thirty second track race. Two months later, just before the graduation of the class of 1981, a killer in a fencing mask starts offing other track team members, timing their deaths to exactly thirty seconds with a stopwatch.

This film has the examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Kevin, who mostly flies under the radar, despite being the killer.
  • Asshole Victim: Coach Michaels pushed Laura so much at track and field that she collapsed and died. He's later shot dead by the police.
  • Big Bad: Kevin Badger is the killer.
  • Cheap Costume: The killer's costume is literally just a regular fencing uniform, it doesn't even have a scary face painted on the mask or anything!
  • Creator Cameo: Director Herb Freed plays the killer when he's chasing Linnea Quigley.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Christopher George was well known for his leading roles in low-budget horror movies by this time in his career and is top-billed for this film, but he ends up just serving as a Red Herring and Asshole Victim. The real protagonist is Anne (Patch Mackenzie.)
  • Dead Star Walking: The top-billed Christopher George is mistaken for the killer and killed off midway through the third act.
  • Destination Defenestration: The killer falls through a window when a corpse is shoved at him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Kevin, in love with Laura and planning to marry her after graduation, decides that everyone on the track team, including Michaels, needs to die, despite all of them not knowing Laura had the potential to be killed by a blood clot. Also, none of them pushed Laura to run hard as much as Coach Michaels did.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Played with. Anne acts odd enough around Sally when she asks Sally for directions to the auditorium that when Sally sees her again, she tells her classmates that Anne acted weird around her, and behaves as though it made her uncomfortable.
  • Event Title: The killings all fall the day before, and on, the school's graduation day.
  • Fanservice: Nudity? In my Troma Slasher Movie? Don't be ridiculous, the girl stripping naked in the locker room and putting on a tight gymnastics leotard is totally plot-relevant.
    • Mr. Roberts also gets a moment when one of the girls seduces him for a passing grade by opening her top and letting Roberts bury his face in her chest.
  • Final Girl: Anne. Justified since she initially wasn't in the killer's list of targets, and he only comes after her once she finds Laura's remains in his room.
  • Foreshadowing: The first time Sally is stalked by the killer before Doris and her friend interrupt them, we get a clear camera shot of the killer, in a mask, through the window of an adjoining room. Based on the build, the person is obviously a teenager, as they are nowhere near as bulky as Coach Michaels. Since the only teenager with a deep connection to Laura is Kevin, her former boyfriend, it's a glaring clue that he's the killer, and is cemented when they find the picture with the victims crossed off, and Michaels and Kevin are the only two that aren't crossed off.
  • Good-Looking Privates: Anne is introduced, and exits the film in her form-fitting military uniform. The truck driver giving her a ride into town certainly appreciates it, though Anne's stepfather derides her for wearing it. At any rate, Patch Mackenzie looks very attractive in it.
  • Groin Attack: When the guy who is giving a lift to Anne tries to fondle her, she grabs his balls in a vice grip and tells him to control himself.
    • And the coach gets a good thump into the jimmies on Kevin during a chase.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Graduation.
  • Hypocrite: After Officer MacGregor busts two students smoking dope, he warns them not to do it again or else. After they leave, he lits a joint of his own.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A pole-vaulter dies when he lands on a mat that was rigged with spikes.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Sally gets a sword thrust through her throat.
  • Jerkass: Coach Michaels He's pissed that Laura's death has cost him his job, and while he didn't mean for her to die from a blood clot during the athletic meet, he cussed and pushed her until her body gave out. While he may not accept blame, he's not the killer.
    • Also, Kevin. While Laura's death ruined his marital plans with Laura, the main instigator of her death was Coach Michaels, who pushed her too hard. In his mental state, he decides to kill everyone on the track team, despite none of them, even Michaels, knowing she had any sort of health issue.
    • Principal Guglione is also fairly vile, mistreating his secretary and trying to avoid calls from panicked parents who children are missing (And as the audience knows, dead.)
  • Karma Houdini: Anne's stepfather is only in a handful of scenes, and treats Anne like dirt every time they share one. He's also put off that Anne traveled from overseas to attend the graduation ceremony and collect Laura's trophy since Laura passed away, claiming that since he raised her as his own, HE should do it. Even after she's nearly been murdered, he drunkenly comes into her room, scaring her into thinking the murderer is still alive before insulting her and forcing Anne's mother to apologize to him and haul him back to bed. Not only is he never on the killer's radar, but Anne also doesn't even use any of her hand-to-hand combat training skills to knock him on his arse before leaving.
    • Also, Principal Guglione gets the Jerkass treatment, likely to make him a potential suspect in the killings. He mistreats his secretary and dodges phone calls from concerned parents whose kids are missing, getting further and further angry and exasperated every time his secretary ignores him and transfers a call through. He survives.
    • And, Mr. Roberts, the music teacher, who agrees to have sex with failing Dolores in return for giving them a passing grade. Roberts survives and is never found out.
  • Kill the Cutie: Laura. She dies early, trying to push herself too hard and impress the coach, and her death sets off Kevin on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Michaels and the rest of the track team.
  • Lack of Empathy: Coach Michaels takes no blame for his actions which pushed Laura to her death, even when Anne confronts him about it, and is mainly upset that Laura's death cost him his job, considering that retribution enough for his actions.
  • Leg Focus: Most of the main characters wear track uniforms at least once, and Anne's military uniform gives a generous view of her legs that the truck driver appreciates until she grabs him by the crotch and tells him to back off.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: After Sally's body is found in the girls' locker room, coach Michaels, who was conveniently present, is thought to be the killer and he is forced to run. He then temporarily gets blamed for the killings after he is shot by the police.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: When Anne goes to see Kevin after hearing that he picked up Laura's trophy instead of her, she finds Laura's corpse dressed for graduation sitting in his room. Kevin then enters the picture and starts treating the remains as if they were still alive.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Played with. Coach George Michaels comes pretty close to one-half of the Wham! dinging duo.
  • Not Quite Dead: Subverted. After he dies, Anne faces Kevin again when he enters her room at night. Then the lights are switched on, and in Kevin's place is her drunk stepfather Ronald. Her scared mind had only imagined him being there.
  • Off with His Head!: Tommy gets decapitated from behind as he takes a piss in the woods. His girlfriend Dolores soon follows.
  • Once is Not Enough: Despite having hand-to-hand combat experience, Anne just runs away when she disarms and knocks down the killer. She does eventually put it to good use, and gets enough hits in during their final confrontation to knock him into some spikes and kill him.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Anne runs into the remains of two victims during the final chase scene.
    • Coach Michaels also falls and stumbles onto one of the corpses in the woods when he's trying to run from the police.
  • Pet the Dog: Kevin is very sympathetic towards Anne over the death of Anne's sister/his girlfriend, and is quick to tell her how much Laura idolized Anne. But after she discovers he's the murderer, he has no qualms about killing her to keep her silent, considering her at that point, just as bad as his other victims for "not understanding" his motivations.
  • Police Are Useless: Not only does Inspector Halliday only begin investigating the death of the track team members after most of them are slaughtered and after hysterical parents start calling the police station wondering where their kids are, After Kevin, the film's killer, attacks Coach Michaels, and Michaels gets the upper hand and takes the knife and is standing over Kevin, Halliday comes on the scene, gun raised, attracts Michaels' attention, and even though Michaels isn't even making a threatening move with the knife he's holding, Halliday shoots Michaels twice, turning him into an Asshole Victim.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Anne Ramstead, Laura Ramstead, and Sally Prescott all fit the bill.
  • Red Herring: Anne is built up to be the culprit, since she brought a gray sweatshirt and gloves similar to the killer's with her, and also acts slightly creepy at times.
    • Also, Coach Michaels wears the same outfit as the killer, and when he's cleaning out his desk towards the end, he's seen packing up black gloves and a stopwatch similar to the one the killer uses. He even gets shot by Halladay, after Halladay comes across him holding a knife after he's disarmed the real killer.
    • Even Principal Guglione gets this treatment, in a scene where we see him use a switchblade to slice an apple, then open his desk drawer to reveal a number of other confiscated knives stored inside.
  • The Reveal: Laura's boyfriend Kevin tells Michaels that he is the killer. He went crazy after she died and now wants to punish the entire track team for it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kevin kills all the other members of the track team, and attempts to kill coach Michaels because he blames them all for pushing Laura to her death.
  • Sex for Services: Dolores seduces her music teacher so that he won't flunk her and put her into summer school.
  • Slashed Throat: The first victim is a jogging girl who is grabbed from behind by her hair and has her throat slit.
  • The Stinger: After the credits stop rolling, the stopwatch is shown being used once again.
  • Video Nasties: One of the Section Three nasties.