DirectorPeter Crane/Larry Stewart
Release Date(s)1984 (November 8, 2016)
Studio(s)New World Pictures (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A-
Released in 1984, The Initiation follows a college student (Daphne Zuniga) who is having reoccurring nightmares about her parents (Clu Gulager and Vera Miles). While she’s participating in a initiation ritual in a local mall one night, the young woman’s sorority sisters (as well as their boyfriends) start getting bumped off one by one. But who is stalking and killing them?
The Initiation is not a typical by-the-numbers slasher movie in any sense, but it doesn’t bring a whole lot that’s new to the table either. The behind the scenes stories about the making of this movie are more interesting than the movie itself, including the fact that the original director was fired in the first week of principal photography, resulting in a number of scenes and sequences that have a clear stylistic difference from the rest of the material. The movie itself offers plenty of nudity and gore, if you’re into that sort of thing, but the twist ending doesn’t make a whole lot of narrative sense. The cast at least does a fairly decent job despite the wooden dialogue, and the kills are good and bloody, but the movie is largely mediocre with only sporadic flashes of creativity.
Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of The Initiation is a brand new 2K restoration sourced from the original 35mm camera negative. It’s a very solid presentation but not a perfect one. The dream sequences in the movie feature soft focus, though that doesn’t represent the movie as a whole. Grain is handled well, although it can tend to look a little clumpy during some of the darker moments. Fine detail is excellent, especially skin textures and clothing, and the color palette is mostly strong. Skin tones are accurate, black levels are solid, and brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. No artificial sharpening or other unnecessary digital corrections are present, but there is mild speckling and very minor scratches visible. Otherwise, it’s a clean transfer that is organic in appearance. The lone audio track is an English mono LPCM. There’s clear, discernable dialogue with a potent score, as well as strong sound effects. Optional subtitles are available in English SDH.
The bonus selection has some nice tidbits worth checking out, including an audio commentary with the folks from The Hysteria Continues podcast; three separate interviews (Sorority Saga with writer Charles Pratt, Jr., Pledge Night with actor Christopher Bradley, and Dream Job with actor Joy Jones); an extended scene; the original theatrical trailer; and a 20-page insert booklet with an essay on the film by critic James Oliver.
I have a feeling that The Initiation won’t hold up for some folks (myself included) upon repeated viewings, but this Blu-ray presentation is the best that’s available. Enhanced with some terrific extras, Arrow Video’s release of the film is bound to find a new and appreciative audience.
- Tim Salmons