The Initiation is what Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) goes through as she begins her time at the Delta Rho Chi student house, but we know from the start that not all her dogs are barking after an incident she carried out with a knife in her parents’ bedroom.
There’s a gardener with a burnt face and hands – and apparent evil intent, plus a scene where all the residents of the local mental hospital are somehow out of their rooms and surrounding the matron as she tries to get into her car. It’s like one of those scary ’70s horror movies and illicits the same fear that they gave me!! That said, how matron couldn’t fight off a headcase with a trowel, God only knows.
Scenes of hypnosis regression, taking you back to years when you were much younger, reminded me of Anthony Hopkins’ Audrey Rose (but not half as good), and there’s random people getting bumped off with no-one mentioning them afterwards, nor showing any signs of grief. In fact, every time the students get separated, you just know one of them will die, and with them running round a shopping mall for a large portion of the film, it felt very disjointed as a whole.
There are some amusingly inventive deaths, such one with the harpoon gun, plus a twist I did NOT see coming, but this is far from one of the schlock-horror greats, even if it is good to see Miss Zuniga in what was only her second film, released just before the brilliant The Sure Thing from Rob Reiner, and just after her debut in one that’s escaped me until now, The Dorm That Dripped Blood.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and, while only a DVD was available for review, I can’t imagine the Blu-ray looking a whole lot better as the print feels a bit soft, which is mostly down to the way it was shot.
The audio is in DTS 1.0 (mono). There’s no major issues, so all music, dialogue and screaming sound fine, if unchallenging to all speakers.
The extras feature mostly interviews, plus one superb addition I wasn’t expecting:
- Sorority Saga (21:17): The first of three brand new interviews recorded in August 2016, with this and the second filmed in Los Angeles. Writer Charles Pratt Jr talks about how he used to write other people’s scripts in film school for money… until he got found out.
Note also that all interviews are introduced with a snatch of theme which was recorded sounding like a record player slowing down.
- Pledge Night (18:36): Actor Christopher Bradley discusses a number of aspects including the location of the Fairchild Building where a lot of the murders take place, plus working with Vera Miles and almost meeting her…
- Dream Job (13:35): In an interview filmed in Dallas, Texas, Joy Jones (Heidi) talks about appearing in her one and only movie.
- Extended Scene (1:07): A brief extension to the party scene where the audio was lost, so the dialogue is shown in subtitle form.
- Trailer (1:11): In an approx 16:9 ratio. Too short to give any major spoilers.
- BD/DVD-ROM Content: A fantastic extra for which I hope we get more in the future – this is the entire original Screenplay (118 pages) and Production Schedule (34 pages).
- Audio Commentaries: from The Hysteria Continues, who you can follow on Twitter and Facebook.
My review disc was the film and extras on DVD, but if you buy the finished release, there’s also a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn and a Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver.
The main menu features a short piece of the theme set to clips from the film. There are a bog standard 12 chapters, and subtitles are in English.
The Initiation is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Dual-format, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
then someone interrupts you and the donut drops from your mouth and THEN the picture is taken…
Running time: 97 mins
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: November 7th 2016
Sound: DTS 1.0 (Mono)
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Larry Stewart
Producer: Scott Winant
Screenplay: Charles Pratt Jr
Music: Gabriel Black and Lance Ong
Kelly Fairchild: Daphne Zuniga
Frances Fairchild: Vera Miles
Dwight Fairchild: Clu Gulager
Peter: James Read
Marcia: Marilyn Kagan
Jason Randall: Robert Dowdell
Nurse Higgins: Patti Heider
Megan: Frances Peterson
Alison: Deborah Morehart
Beth: Paula Knowles
Ralph: Trey Stroud
Andy: Peter Malof
Chad: Christopher Bradley
Heidi: Joy Jones
Gwen: Mary Davis Duncan
Nightwatchman: Rusty Meyers
Kelly (9 Years Old): Christi Michelle Allen
Sorority Girls: Cheryl Foster, Diane Page, Traci Odom, Melissa Toomin and Jennifer Suttles
Detective: Dan Dickerson
Motorcycle Cop: Ronald M Hubner
Orderly: Jerry L Clark
Nurse: Kathy Lee Kennedy
Students: Lance Funston and Andrea Vaccarello
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.