Graduation Day (film)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2014)|
|Directed by||Herb Freed|
|Produced by||David Baughn
|Written by||David Baughn
E. J. Peaker
E. Danny Murphy
|Music by||Arthur Kempel|
|Edited by||Martin Jay Sadoff|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||May 1, 1981|
|Running time||96 minutes|
During a high school track race, Laura (Ruth Ann Llorens), a female runner, is pushed by the crowd and her demanding coach (who keeps screaming "move it, move it, move it!"). Apparently the pressure is too much for Laura who collapses right after crossing the finish line and breaking a 30 second 100 meter race. Upon examination by the coach and her teammates, Laura is dead. Some days later, Anne Ramstead (Patch Mackenzie), returning to town on leave from the U.S. Navy, is getting a ride into town from a sleazy truck driver. She asks to be dropped off when she sees a girl running by. The girl, Paula, runs into a wooded area with her earphones on. Someone is following her, and a pair of black leather gloves starts a stopwatch. The unseen person catches up to Paula and slits her throat.
At the Midvale High School, the track team is waiting for Paula to show up so they can have their class photograph taken. Coach George Michaels (Christopher George) decides to have the picture taken without the student. Meanwhile, an unseen person places a photo of the track team and after circling Laura's face, crosses out Paula's face with lipstick. Meanwhile, Anne arrives home to visit her mother (Beverly Dixon) and her crabby stepfather, Ronald (Hal Bokar). Anne and her mother discuss the death of their sister/daughter (who happens to be Laura). When her mother asks how long will she be visiting, Anne replies that she will be leaving after graduation day. Anne goes upstairs to her room to unpack her things, including a gray sweatshirt and a pair of black leather gloves.
Later, another track member, named Sally (Denise Cheshire), is walking through the wooded area and she has an encounter with Anne, who is looking for the auditorium. Anne reacts strangely towards Sally who points out the direction to the auditorium. Later in the auditorium, Sally arrives where she sees Anne already there watching the students having a graduation rehearsal, with Anne as a special guest. Sally points out to her friends about her encounter with Anne earlier and states: "Boy, that girl is weird!" Afterwards, Anne goes to visit Laura's boyfriend, Kevin (E. Danny Murphy), at his house. Anne sees how odd Kevin is, claiming that his parents are away and his grandmother, who spends all the time in a chair in the living room watching TV, is stone deaf. Kevin shows Anne, a photo album of Laura and Anne gives Kevin one of Laura's track medals which he thanks her for.
Another day or so later, Sally is in the locker room when the lights are shut off. She runs into two 'mean girls', named Doris (Vanna White) and Joanne (Karen Abbott), and frightens them. Sally searches the area, but finds no one. A little later, Sally the gymnast arrives in the gym area where Coach Michaels is there with a photographer to take a few photos of her doing a routine on the gym bars, but she is not able to concentrate apparently due to memories of Laura's death. Sally tries to concentrate despite Coach's encouragement words: of "don't disappoint me", but she continually fails. Sally heads back to the locker room and after showering and shaving her legs, the killer arrives, wearing a gray sweatsuit, black leather gloves and a fencing mask. The masked killer then murders Sally by stabbing her through the neck with a sword. The killer again has the stopwatch and stops it after 30 seconds.
Later, the ill-tempered Principal Gugilone (Michael Pataki) is in his office arguing with his secretary. After the secretary walks out, he pulls out a switchblade knife from his coat pocket and uses it to slice an apple to eat. He puts the knife into his desk drawer, where there's various knives as well as a stopwatch.
Meanwhile, Dolores (Linnea Quigley) is on a park bench with her boyfriend Tony (Billy Hufsey), smoking marijuana and kissing when MacGregor (Virgil Frye) the school 'narc' shows up and says he had better not catch them with drugs again. He takes the joint away from them, and after Dolores and Tony walk away, MacGregor re-lights the joint for himself to smoke. Anne goes to the school metal shop to see Coach Michaels. The coach is angry about being blamed for Laura's death which resulted in a blood clot in her heart after finishing the race. Michaels says to Anne, "I didn't kill your sister! I loved her!" Anne leaves, still indignant towards Michaels.
In the wooded area, another member of the track team, Ralph (Carl Rey) is running with his football gear, tossing a football back and forth. The two mean girls, Doris and Joanne, are there and they playfully toss the football into some trees. As Doris and Joanne run off, Ralph goes into the undergrowth to get his football where the masked killer is there, with a football affixed with a fencing blade. Ralph goes behind the trees and says to the killer "Hi. Gimme my ball". The killer abides, giving Ralph his football right in the stomach. Ralph withers on the ground for a minute before he dies as the killer again has his stopwatch and stops it at 30 seconds.
That night, there is a skating party for the students. They are roller skating to the tune of Gangster Rock, played by a band of men donning black and white makeup. Tony and Dolores head away from the party into the woods for make out and when Tony goes off to answer the call of nature, he is decapitated by the fencing masked killer with a pair of garden shears. Dolores is then attacked by the killer who chases her though the woods as the band Gangster Rock continues to play, drowning out her screams. The masked killer catches up to Dolores and murders her with a sword.
The next morning, parents continue to call Principal Gugilone about their missing children. The principal, believing that the kids are out "raising hell" takes it lightly. Just then, Inspector Halliday (Carmine Argenziano) arrives to talk to Gugilone about the missing kids and says that he is here to investigate.
Pete, another track team member, is seen on the track field pole vaulting. While completing the run and the vault over the bar, he lands on the mat with metal spikes hidden underneath it. The killer, standing nearby with the stopwatch, again stops it at 30 seconds.
Inspector Halliday goes to speak with Coach Michaels who tells him that six students from his track team have been reported missing. But the coach is angry and tells the police inspector that he has just been fired by Principal Gugilone over Laura's death and of the bad publicity the school has been getting. Inside Coach Michael's desk are a pair of black leather gloves and a stopwatch.
In the locker room, Joanne and Doris find Sally's dead body stuffed in a locker. Coach Michaels is nearby and checks the body. Kevin runs into the room after running into Doris and Joanne running out of the locker room screaming. Seeing Michaels standing before Sally's body, Kevin believes that the coach is the murderer and begins a struggle. Coach Michaels subdues Kevin and runs away from the school while Kevin gives chase. Doris and Joanne run into Inspector Halliday where the two scared teen girls tell the inspector that the coach murdered Sally.
Out in the wooded area, Kevin catches up to Coach Michaels where they discover the dead body of Ralph, still lying on the ground and impaled with the fencing blade. Coach pleads his innocence, but Kevin angrily raves, "You killed Laura! You all killed her!" Kevin then admits to the murders and pulls out a hunting knife and a stopwatch and claims that because Coach Michaels pushed Laura during her track training and that she died, all of Laura's teammates, as well as the coach, deserve to die. Kevin claims that he and Laura were going to be married after graduation and have a future together, but all of that changed in 30 seconds during her run down the track which led to her death. Michaels and Kevin struggle on the ground for the hunting knife and the coach manages to get the hunting knife away from Kevin. Just then, Inspector Halliday shows up and sees Michaels standing over Kevin holding the hunting knife. Assuming that the coach is responsible for all the killings, Halliday shoots and kills the coach. Kevin then tells Halliday a concocted story about the coaching bragging to him about killing all of the track students and the inspector buys it.
Sometime later, Annie goes over to Kevin house to visit him to see how is he holding up after his brush with Coach Michaels. When no one answers the door, she lets herself in and heads up stairs to find him. Up in Kevin's bedroom, Anne finds the decomposing corpse of her sister in a rocking chair and wearing a gold-colored graduation robe. Kevin shows up and reveals that he stole Laura's body from the grave and claims that he and Laura were to be married after the graduation ceremony and that nothing (not even Laura's death) was to prevent that. When Anne backs away in terror and refuses Kevin's request to give Laura's corpse a kiss, he becomes violent once again and screams "You're as bad as the others!" Realizing that Kevin was the killer and not Coach Michaels, Anne strikes Kevin when he attacks her and he falls out a window with Laura's body. Anne runs away as Kevin picks up Laura's corpse and takes it back inside his house.
Anne runs all the way back to the school and to the deserted track field where Kevin pursues her. Using her military training of hand-to-hand combat, Anne takes on the hunting knife-wielding Kevin in which the fight leads from the track and field to under the bleachers. There, Pete's dead body is shown with him still impaled to the spikes. After getting the upper hand, Anne kicks Kevin who backs into the spikes lodged into Pete's corpse and Kevin finally dies when he falls to the ground and stops moving.
After giving her statement to the police, Anne goes home that night and while sleeping in bed, sees the blooded and undead Kevin walking into her room with a hunting knife. Anne screams but stops when her mother walks in and turns on the lights. 'Kevin' is revealed only to be her drunken stepfather. Mrs. Ramstead takes her drunken husband out of the room, while Anne still lays in bed shaken clearly traumatized by her encounter with Kevin. The next morning, Anne says her goodbye to her mother and leaves town in a taxi to return to the Navy, showing the "Graduation Day" banner still up.
- Christopher George as Coach George Michaels
- Patch Mackenzie as Anne Ramstead
- Michael Pataki as Principal Guglione
- E. J. Peaker as Blondie
- E. Danny Murphy as Kevin Badger
- Denise Chesire as Sally
- Linnea Quigley as Dolores
- Billy Hufsey as Tony Fisk
- Tom Hintnaus as Peter
- Vanna White as Doris
- Karen Abbott as Joanne
- Linda Shayne as Paula Brentwood
- Richard Balin as Mr. Rodgers
- Carmen Argenziano as Inspector Halliday
- Virgil Frye as Officer MacGregor
- Carl Rey as Ralph Johnson
- Erica Hope as Diana
- Beverly Dixon as Elaine Ramstead
- Hal Bokar as Roland Corliss
Troma Entertainment released the film on VHS through Media Pictures. It received international distribution.
Troma Team Video released the film on DVD in 2000 and a special "Troma Retro" edition in 2009.
The film grossed $23,894,000 in the U.S. against its $250,000 budget, making it a box office success.