Shaun vs. The Initiation (1984)

While suffering reoccurring nightmares involving her father’s death, a pledge is coaxed into breaking into her new father’s department store by her sorority leader though they’re followed inside by an escaped mental patient.

Judging a Book by its Cover




-Is she supposed to be a candle and her head is on fire?  Is the gigantic hand squeezing too hard?

-Or is she supposed to be tiny?  What kind of movie is this?

-I don’t think the girls can keep these pledges.  Well, maybe the last one considering the type of movie this is.





…the night new blood is pledged.

Directed by Larry Stewart

Starring Daphne Zuniga, Clu Gulager and Vera Miles

After a nightmare opening involving a little girl stabbing a man sleeping with her mother and her father catching fire, Kelly is awoken by a large number of sorority sisters waking her up.  She is among the finalists who may make it into the sorority if they can pass the final challenge.  Kelly’s father owns the shopping centre downtown so the head of the sorority puts together a plan for the girls to break into the mall using Kelly’s father’s keys and take the night watchman’s uniform.


The next day during her psychology course, Kelly discusses her term paper with the grad assistant, Peter.  She wants to do it on dreams and nightmares since it’s a personal issue to her and since Peter is heavily involved in dream psychology, he wants to use her as a guinea pig and learn more about her condition to help her out all the while they slowly fall in love, I guess.  The film takes a weird turn towards really delving into this dream therapy stuff and while it’s probably meant to add substance to a rather standard slasher film, it’s a bland substance.


The carrot costume didn’t turn out well.

While this is all going on, at a nearby mental institute, there’s a daring escape by an inmate who murders one of the nasty nurses on their way out.  The killer seems to focus on targets close to Kelly and follows the girls into the mall when the time comes for the sorority challenge.  As some of the other university students sneak in to scare the girls, they also become fodder for the maniac which also leads to a big twist at the end when the identity of the killer is revealed to shock and surprise you!  (Maybe.)


Got an axe in your head? You can still enjoy this movie!

It’s not that The Initiation does anything particularly bad, but aside from the prolonged exposure to the world of dream therapy and psychology meant to differentiate itself from it’s ilk, it’s just another slasher film with a bland middle and an okay end.  The kills are mostly done by repeated stabbings are fairly brutal to watch.  The killer does manage to mix it up a little bit with an axe and bow and arrow so there’s a surprisingly good amount of blood shown on screen.  Fans of 80s slashers may find something to enjoy but ultimately it’s just another average slasher.


Story: 5 – An escaped killer follows sorority girls into a mall and goes on a shopping killing spree.

Blood: 6 – Mostly consisting of stabbings, the film does throw in an axe to the head, an arrow shot through a torso and a decapitation.

Nudity: 3 – Some brief scenes in the showers.

Overall: 5 – Calling the film average is better than similar movies released at the time but it certainly doesn’t rise to the top of the crop either.


-Daphne Zuniga’s first starring role.

-Director Larry Stewart was brought in to replace the original director who fell behind schedule.



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