*½/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B
starring Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, James Read, Daphne Zuniga
written by Charles Pratt, Jr.
directed by Larry Stewart
by Bryant Frazer Turning up at the tail-end of the late-1970s/early-1980s slasher boom, The Initiation is another one made with little ambition by people with no special inclination towards horror, but at least it doesn't look down on the genre: Despite the sorority-house trappings, it aspires to a perfectly middlebrow level of quality, like a network movie-of-the-week or mass-market paperback original. That's some kind of achievement for a film that opens with a delightfully ridiculous dream sequence (or is it?) depicting an episode of coitus interruptus involving a little girl with a knife and an intruder who catches on fire, and ends with a half-dozen college kids being tracked down by a serial killer with knives and a harpoon gun. Trouble is, The Initiation works a little too hard to lay a foundation for its killing spree in a drama of dark family secrets. The result is a messy amalgam that doesn't work especially well as a soap opera or a teen sex comedy, let alone as a slasher movie.