Vinegar Syndrome (US)
Director: Herb Freed
96 minutes / 1981 / Color / 1.85:1
Buy Direct from
Author: John Mathews
Back in the 80's and 90's the Australian video store was filled with lots of slasher films. Nearly every slasher could be found from rubbish like 'Satans Blade' and 'Evil Laugh', Australians loved their slashers and the distributors knew that. However for some strange reason 'Graduation Day' skipped Australian distribution, heck even 'Night Train to Terror' got a release down here. It's a shame because it's probably one of the more unique slashers from the 'golden age'. So the films opening has a very catchy track and sets up the characters that will be in this film; Laura a young athlete collapses at the end of the finish line due to exhaustion and eventually dies. We see veteran exploitation actor Christopher George as the coach.
Laura's sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie) comes to town due to her sisters death, immediately at the start there's a bit of influence from Friday the 13th when she is getting a lift. Anne has come for graduation day to represent her sister. As soon as she arrives a series of killings begin, with a jogger getting sliced. All the victims appear to be from Laura's athletic team with the killer crossing off a photo of the team one by one. It leaves the audience guessing and pointing fingers at potential suspects, but as a well made slasher it's smart enough not to make it so obvious. Anne meets Laura's ex-boyfriend to understand more about Laura and her impact on the team.
The aspects that makes graduation day work so well is the creative deaths, solid acting and humour. The killer is wears a fencing uniform and has a sword as his/her weapon of choice; and this was before Friday the 13th part 3 when Jason got his mask, putting this slasher ahead of it's time. You want to talk about deaths, oh boy are you in for a treat, the killer in one scene puts a sword on a football then chucks it's to a football player. The gore factor is also relatively high, make note this was before the MPAA really cared; this film was lucky as it missed the slicing of the rating board in around late 81' when the genre got targeted. The acting is fantastic, Christopher George who by this time has mastered the art of playing a tough character, plays coach George very hard, turning the audience against him at times.
Christopher George by this time was on a roll of horror classics, he would then star in the slasher 'pieces' the year after where he lowered down the tone. Make note this film is funny, it was a troma production (before tromas heyday) ; so you noticed their offbeat comedy slide in. From Kevin's crazy grandma to the principal who plays the role completely over the top, almost losing the plot. Overall if your a slasher fan, or a fan of thrillers in general, don't hesitate to check out Graduation Day. A movie that has never been released in Australian in any format, it's truly a fascinating little work that stands out in the crowded slasher genre.
Vinegar Syndrome presents the film in it's original aspect ratio of 1:85.1, this is an all new 4K transfer. There was a previous DVD from troma I imported a few years ago and the transfer was an awful, presumably video master. This new transfer is a revelation for fans of the film. The film remains with natural grain intact and there appears to be no print damage. Colours are rich and vibrant, the outdoor scenes really shine with green trees and open fields showing off and the roller-skating rock scene presents a rich hot pink, crucial to the scene. It has consistent black levels and a great balance of contrast throughout, the night scenes are thankfully easy to see, previously releases have been barely visible, thanfully this brings life in to it. There is a strong amunt of detail in characters and environments, previously never before seen.
The audio is presented here in its original mono score, that being DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. It comes off clear, the beginning has its the opening track sounding strong, with a great bass. It's obvious this score has been remastered, the previous DVD just feels muffled. The dialogue comes off very clear and there are no cracks or pops to be heard. Blasting it doesn't cause any peaking issues. Overall solid audio.
This is a jam packed release with two audio commentery and some interviews.
Commentary with producer David Baughn, he goes into great detail behind how the film got made, and the overall process.
Commentary with The Hysteria Continues, this is a podcast based group that give a very indepth fan filled commentary; focusing on trivia and other little tid bits that make it well worth the entire listen.
Interview with Patch Mackenzie, an interesting interview where she discusses the television shows she used to work on and how she got involved with the cult classic.
Interview with director Herb Freed, the director discusses how this was the only slasher he would ever make due to audience reactions. He said that he tried to craft it as best as possible.
Interview with producer Dave Baughn, he gives an insight behind the scenes.
Interview with editor Martin Jay Sadoff; the film has some real wacky editing. Martin explains how this was done and why it was chosen.
And a Theatrical Trailer has been included. It's in glorious HD too.
Australian Buyers Note:
Overall Vinegar Syndrome does justice to this cult classic, Aussies this is finally your chance to see it. The disc is region free and Vinegar Syndrome only charge $ 12 for international shipping as a cap, so order as much as you desire.