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The Initiation (1984) - Blu-ray Review

2 beersAnd so we come to the blatant rip-off.  Perhaps that’s too harsh.  After all, there are some interesting things in the mechanics of Larry Stewart’s slasher (the finale inside the multi-level Dallas Market Center being one), but not enough to keep audiences focused on its murderous events.

The Initiation, starring Daphne Zuniga, Vera Miles (Psycho), and Clu Gulager (The Return of the Living Dead), marks a sort of low point in the slasher genre where audiences, already familiar with the sub-genre’s formula, were ready for something a bit more challenging than just the same old kill, kill, and kill again by some crazed lunatic.  The film combines elements from more successful slasher flicks and repackages them into yet another family mystery of murder and deceit, giving audiences their first peek behind the curtain of creation. 

Unfortunately, The Initiation does not push us through that veil and is content to simply pull it shut again.  Blame it on the loss of British director Peter Crane if you must.  His shots inside the insane asylum are pretty clever and, as a result of his approach, put the low-budget flick way behind schedule.  Although Stewart fills in nicely as his replacement, there certainly is a noticable change in the aesthetics of the film.

Zuniga (Spaceballs) plays a college student who is troubled by a recurring dream.  Like Halloween before it, this sequence plays out as the film opens.  The past is very much present in the film.  We are whisked into the lives of her upper class parents and then are thrust inside an asylum – where a killer escapes in what is probably the best scene of the movie – before settling on a college campus.  Zuniga and her friends – actresses Paula Knowles and Marilyn Kagan - have pledged their sorority oaths and are awaiting further instructions from the queen of the club, Frances Peterson, who essentially treats them like shit. 

Enter the frat boys.  Actors Peter Malof and Trey Stoud are the love interests of the girls and they desire solely to screw and prank the ladies at every turn.  One even spies on Zuniga as she gets ready for a dance party on the campus.  Throughout the movie, their cackles are heard down each and every hall.  Except the tricks the boys are involved with turn deadly when an immature sorority task goes haywire right before the girls’ eyes. 

As we hiccup toward the conclusion, the body count of the movie triples in a short amount of time (singlehandedly making up for some of the poor attempts at characterization) and those dreams of Zuniga’s get their answers.  It’s a twist that involves adultery and shame and, because we do spend an awful lot of time in the bedroom with Miles and Gulager, isn’t exactly the surprise it wants to be.  It’s effective, but – in a slasher-minded script full of silly screams and sex that seems to cure all sorts of childhood drama – not at all unexpected. 

Arrow Video presents The Initiation on blu-ray with a 2K restoration.  The film has interesting moments, but doesn’t really have anything new to say about the tropes it so gleefully borrows from other films in the sub-genre.  This one is for collector's only.


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The Initiation (1984) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
97 mins
: Larry Stewart
Charles Pratt, Jr.
Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, Daphne Zuniga
: Horror
The night blood is pledged
Memorable Movie Quote: "Here's to being young, staying young, and dying young."
Theatrical Distributor:
New World Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 7, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 8, 2016
Synopsis:While trying to understand a frightening reoccurring nightmare, a pledge is coaxed into breaking into her father's department store by her sorority sisters, where a deranged killer targets the girls and their boyfriends.


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The Initiation (1984) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Video
Available on Blu-ray
- November 8, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A and B

The Initiation has been exclusively restored in 2K resolution for this release by Arrow Video and is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono sound.  The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 2K resolution on a pin-registered 4K lasergraphics Director Scanner at Deluxe Burbank.  Picture grading was completed on a DaVinci Resolve at Pinewood Studios.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and light scratchers were removed using PFClean software.  Overall image stability and instances of if density fluctuation were also improved.  All restoration work was completed at Pinewood Studios.  The original soundtrack was transferred from the 35mm magnetic aster reels by Deluxe Audio Services and was conformed and restored at Pinewood Studios.



  • The Hysteria Continues provides a rip-snorting commentary about the making of the film.  In a lot of ways, the commentary is more engaging than the movie itself.

Special Features:

Loaded with new interviews (filmed in 2016) with the actors and actresses and the writer of the movie, Arrow Video delivers a worthy release of this slasher.  A copy of the script is also provided when you pop the disc into your computer.  New reversible sleeve art from Justin Osbourn (as well as the original artwork) is also provided.  A theatrical trailer rounds out the supplemental items.

  • Sorority Saga: NEW Interview with Charles Pratt, Jr.
  • Pledge Night: NEW Interview with actor Christopher Bradley
  • Dream Job: NEW Interview with actress Joy Jones
  • Original Screenplay & Production Schedule (BD-ROM Content)
  • Theatrical Trailer


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[tab title="Art"]The Initiation (1984) - Blu-ray Review