Saturday, December 4, 2010

THE INITIATION (1984) - when Elm Street gets real...wait, what's the Melrose Place tagline? Was that shit on the WB? The 90's still confound me

here's a trailer, sprinkled with nudity, from a golden age of cinema when tits were all part of the fun

It’s a dark and stormy night, and the camera pans across a truly righteous doll collection. Young Daphne Zuniga walks towards a roaring fireplace and sees Vera Miles (her mommy) getting funky with Clu Gulager (not her daddy, and awesome in Return of the Living Dead). A dude in a suit runs in and struggles with Clu, who pours lighter fluid on the poor bastard and pushes him into the fireplace. Forced to view all of this, little Daphne’s young psyche is no doubt in dire straits (or maybe Knoplflered into oblivion).

Fast forward to modern day, and grown up Daphne wakes up in the middle of a sorority pledge, where a group of chicks wearing nighties are holding candles and chanting some greek salad nonsense. God damn, college is awesome. Daphne later mentions about a recurring “dream” she keeps having where Clu Gulager sets some poor bastard on fire (sure it is). Meanwhile, a nurse at the local nutter farm gets off work and heads for her car, only to get stabbed through the back seat by some psycho gardener with a fork hoe (not to be confused with a spork prostitute). I’m assuming that he’s a psychotic gardener that escaped from the looney bin, but he might just be the regular gardener for the hospital who decided to start killing people one night. Then again, maybe it’s an institutionalized fruitcake whose sole life ambition was to escape the hospital and go on a gardening themed rampage (the press could dub him “the green thumb killer” or something), even though they, in fact, possess no gardening skills whatsoever. Boy these psychiatrists must have their fucking hands full figuring this shit out.

Relaxing at home, Vera and Clu get a phone call from the nut house about something or other (possibly one of those important plot point deals). Daphne mentions that she’s doing her thesis on “dreams and nightmares”, and this means she gets to study with the hunky teacher (Mr. Adams) who’s doing a doctoral thesis on dreams (yes, he is dreamy). She mentions to him that she lost her memory after some childhood trauma, and later has a bloody vision of her childhood self in the bathroom mirror. I guess this trauma isn’t content to contain itself within her mind. Well, Mr. Adams performs some tests on Daphne, trying to interpret her horrific dream starring Vera Miles. Daphne’s parents maintain an illusion of normalcy, not mentioning to her that (presumably) there’s a psycho escapee running around, and wanting her to promise not to hang out with the dream doctor, or do any such tests (lest she finds out the truth). Right on cue, Clu gets stabbed in the neck outside of his house, and then quickly gets decapitated with a machete. Vera, unaware of the gimmicky slaughter occurring outside, proclaims that “sometimes I think that man would forget his head if it wasn’t attached.” Ha ha. Accidental puns are even funnier than the real thing…or not.

Lest we get too psychological or what have you, we cut to the sorority pledges taking their showers, and the token slut shows off the total package (complete with bush, and I don’t mean the president). Even Daphne, with her career in early dire straits, doesn’t mind contributing to the gratuitous nudity fund (alert Melrose Place groupies). This sort of thing tends to attract the male gaze, but thankfully, it’s not the killer, but rather some dude with the hots for daphne wearing some sort of poseur S & M outfit. I say you should either go full leather or go home. Of course, there’s also a party scene, where people are grooving in their costumes to the latest and freshest in generic synth rock. Daphne’s friend, apparently dressed as a red haired punk rocker, heads to the party with a guy named “boner” (appropriately dressed as a giant penis, and not to be confused with the dude from Growing Pains). Daphne also looks pretty hot dressed as a goth hooker of sorts (complete with studded dog collar). You know, her and that fake S & M dude would seem to be the perfect couple at first glance, but what the hell do I know about relationships.

R.I.P. Andrew Koenig, of Growing Pains and Never Not Funny and maybe some other stuff

For the finale, the girls have to spend the night in a department store as part of their sorority pledge. The head sorority biatch teams up with three frat dudes in an effort to scare the girls. The hottie doesn’t seem overly afraid, even showing her tits before trying on some slutty roller skate outfit. Unfortunately, she ends up getting viciously stabbed (alas, no more nude scenes), and “boner” finally tries to get down with the nerd girl, who’s still a virgin, but gets shot with an arrow (maybe I could procure that penis costume now that he no longer needs it). Daphne and the nerd try to escape from a freight elevator, but the killer grabs the nerd girl by her feet and drags her back in, slamming the door shut. We are left to imagine her demise, possibly interjecting some rape into the equation (or maybe he just tickles her and lets her go…who knows).

I won’t give away the super duper twist ending, except to say that the film manages to try and present an actual mystery with, like, clues and shit. Although not great by any stretch, this central plot with Daphne’s dream and what not separates The Initiation from other slashers of the era. It’s rare when one of these movies presents its own subconscious metaphors, rather than having them shoehorned in by over-intellectualizing hoseheads.

P.S. This was written as part of the Final Girl Film Club over at the Final Girl blog, albeit 21 months ago.  I like to be early to club meetings so I get first dibs on snacks  Anyway, please read her review of The Initiation.

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