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"The Initiation is another one of those sorority-type slasher films where a group of girls are offed one-by-one by a deranged killer. The catch in this one is that it's set in a huge department store. Fun times? You bet, well, at least once they get into that store. Before that, this one's a snoozer.The opening does set up an intriguing premise, with Daphne Zuniga constantly having a dream in which she's a young child watching her father fighting another man. After that, the film bogs down quite a bit with repetitive hypnosis scenes, and at least one of the twists involving her dreams is entirely predictable, so for the first half, the film hasn't done much at all.But then, cut to the second half, once the girls break into the department store, and are knocked off one-by-one by the killer, and the film suddenly turns from sluggish to suspenseful. The kill scenes are built up quite well with plenty of blood, there are a few good jump-in-your-seat shocks, and it's nice to see I couldn't quite guess who would die in what order. The huge mall works extremely well in the movie's favor, making for a fairly complex setting in which the killer could be hiding anywhere.There are even two scenes of gratuitous nudity, provided by none other than goregous soap star Hunter Tylo (credited here as Deborah Morehart), who happens to look even hotter now then she did 18 years ago! Unfortunately, the film stars Daphne Zuniga, who makes for a very flat heroine. I've heard many describe her as a talented actress, but I just don't see it. The rest of the performances are pretty standard, not even Vera Miles or Clu Gulager stand out.The big plot twist at the end is pretty ludicrous, but I happen to like absurd twists in slashers (to an extent and depending on the situation), and at least it ties in believably with the opening. Had the rest of the film been as entertaining as the last thirty-five or so minutes, The Initiation would have been one truly nifty little slasher. As it is, the film is simply middling.
** 1/2 out of *****"
Better than it should be
Tony R. Tucker | Crewe, VA United States | 04/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Initiation should be a horrible movie, but for some reason it isn't. The whole is better than the parts. We have all the stereotypes, we have college kids, angst-ridden wealthy kids, recurring nightmares, and big fat flopping red herrings. There's also some pretty borderline acting, even from people you have actually heard of.So why four stars? The movie just works for some reason. Somehow the blantant red herrings, in-your-face clues, etc still leave you surprised when the "shocking" twist ending is revealed. Or, maybe I am just an idiot... but all the people I have watched it with never saw it coming either. Half of the movie takes place in a huuuuuge mall at night. The mall provides endless hiding spaces for the killer (or killers?) to wait and pounce from. The gore effects are really top notch. The attacks come quickly and viciously and look quite real. Even though the mall is huge, there is a claustrophobic feel since the principle characters are locked in without a real way of getting away from their attacker.Veteran actors Clu Gulager and Vera Miles add some weight to the light, early career performances of Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs, The Sure Thing, Melrose Place), Hunter Tylo (The Bold and the Beautiful), and brief talkshow host Marilyn Kagan.The DVD I bought was the Initiation-only version whose only feature was a theatrical trailer. There is now a double-feature DVD that contains The Initiation AND The Mountaintop Motel Massacre. I haven't seen that movie, but you might as well buy it instead and get an extra movie out of the deal. You certainly won't be sacrificing any special features. But, again, this movie is good. There are lots of things to pick it apart over, but as a whole, it delivers."
Eric | 06/10/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"1980's teen-slasher flick that is pretty ordinary fare.The only novelty values in this film are a young pre-fame Daphne Zuniga (Melrose Place) and a young pre-fame Hunter Tylo (The Bold and the Beautiful).While the film is probabaly a forgotten past on the ladder up for both ladies it is Hunter Tylo who now campaigns for christian values who desperately tries to forget the film more.Hunter has the all-important vital role of - The pretty girl who takes off all her clothes in front of the cameraman takes a shower in front of him and then gets out and dries herself in front of him just in case the eager teen male moviegoer missed her completely nude body the first times around - .Oh the joy of hollywood!!"
Your average slasher movie that tries to be more
Dave. K | Staten Island, Ny | 12/03/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the 80s slasher films were quite popular. They were cheaply made, didn't need star power or much marketing since these movies pretty much sold themselves. The Initiation released in 1983 (though some listings have it as 1984) was one of the late entries of the slasher film. By this time all creativity was pretty much gone. You just make the best film you can and hope for the best. The Initiation doesn't add anything new to this type of film. But it does try and be different than the basic stalk and slash film.
The script by Charles Pratt Jr. was a mess early on he seemed to be going more for some kind of psychological horror movie with slasher elements mixed in. The psychological aspect and the slasher aspect of the movie just didn't seem to fit in together at all. The whole reoccurring nightmare Daphne Zuniga's character is having is out of place it just didn't fit with the second half of the movie, but does tie into the twist. The first half of The Initiation is very sloppy at times and it tries to be too smart for its own good.
Even in the first half the psychological aspect didn't really work, and by the end of the movie it really didn't serve much of a purpose. Like I said most of the first half is just a set up for the twist. And quite honestly, the twist could have been explained in a couple of minutes. Therefore the whole first half was pointless.
Larry Stewart was the director and this was his first and only feature film. Prior to The Initiation he directed TV episodes and after The Initiation it was back to TV episodes again. Larry Stewart fails at brining any suspense during the first half of the movie. There is no tension and the kill scenes are boring. Killer shows up and stabs someone, really boring kill scenes I get this is a slasher, but you can mix it up a bit. The first 50-min or so only have 3-kill scenes and all 3 were quite weak.
But once the characters enter the mall The Initiation starts to pick up and becomes a much better movie. The second half is very much your basic stalk and slash, but it works well for the most part. There were still some problems, but the movie works much better. Everything that happened in the first half plays no part until the final minutes and again that is why I say the first half was pointless.
Charles Pratt's script works a lot better in the second half, and director Larry Stewart is able to put together some solid scenes. I will give the makers of The Initiation credit for trying to be different, instead of being your basic slasher movie it just wasn't working. The Initiation lacks any real tension or suspense there might be a couple of suspenseful moments, but that's mostly thanks to the mall setting.
The first half can be a bit boring at times, but not dreadfully boring. There were moments I started to zone out, but like I said there were boring moments, but not dreadfully boring. The 97-min running time was a little too long. Quite honestly, The Initiation could have been wrapped up in 85-min, 90-min at the very most. A lot of scenes could have been edited out and while it may not have made this a great movie it would helped the pacing a little bit.
This sounds bad, but to be quite honest your best bet is skipping through the movie until you reach the 50-min mark. That's when The Initiation starts to work as it becomes the typical slasher flick. Like I said the first half was boring, but not dreadfully boring. It just wasn't needed.
The acting wasn't too bad for this type of film; Daphne Zuniga makes for a pretty good heroine. The opening credits list her as introducing Daphne Zuniga. That's actually a mistake; her feature film debut actually came in another slasher flick called The Dorm That Dripped Blood, The Initiation is her 2nd feature film. Daphne does well overall, but she didn't always have the best dialogue, nobody could sound good saying some of the things she said. But overall it was a good performance and she is very nice to look at as well.
The cast was pretty good, which has Hunter Tylo making her screen debut and puts in a fairly good performance. Cult actor Clu Gulager appears in a small role and Vera Miles also appears. She must have really needed the work. And James Read formally of Charmed also stars.
The final act actually has a pretty good twist ending. I'll be honest when I say it caught me off guard. Seeing it again you can sort of see it being hinted at, but it's still a pretty good twist. A bit silly yes, but surprising nonetheless; it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but works well due to the surprise and silliness of it.
Overall The Initiation is a halfway decent slasher flick that has its moments; it just takes a lot of time before anything really happens. Most of the kill scenes lack any blood except for one death that was pretty good, and most of the murders happen in the final 40-min. The first half tries to offer something different, but ends up being too smart for its own good and can be boring. The 2nd half becomes the typical slasher movie with the characters trapped in a mall unknown a killer is stalking them. While we have seen this all before and done better it does work and the fun level lacking in the first appears in the 2nd.
In closing, The Initiation isn't a terrible movie, but lacks the excitement until the 2nd half. For slasher fanatics you might get something out of this. The rest are better off avoiding. "
Dave. K | 04/01/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I got this because I'm a big fan of Hunter Tylo and Daphne Zuniga. Hunter Tylo looks completely different (did she have surgery?) so it's fun and camp to see her here. If you like B grade stuff, this is for you!"