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The Last Drive-In | Season 6, Week 6 — Graduation Day

With all the pomp and circumstances befitting a 1980s slasher flick, Joe Bob and Darcy checked out "Graduation Day" as the school year ended.
The Last Drive-In | Season 6, Week 6 — Graduation Day 1

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There’s no doubt that the Mutant Family is one of the best-educated fan bases out there. Ask the average Joe on the street, “How many sequels have been made to Friday the 13th?” or “What films did Peter Jackson make before the Lord of the Rings?” Average Joe’’ll stare at you blankly, but members of the Mutant Family KNOW.

Graduation Day allowed us to honor one of the most erudite members of the Mutant Family, our own Darcy the Mail Girl. During graduation season, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the scope and depth of her horror film knowledge with a degree from the Briggs School of Film Studies. 

Of course, music plays a part in all proper commencement ceremonies. Joe Bob asked the Drive-In’s resident musicologist, John Brennan, if he was familiar with the music typically used at graduations. Not only was Brennan able to play “Pomp and Circumstance” on his kazoo, he launched into a litany of facts about Sir Edward Elgar’s Opus 39, noting that most of us are only familiar with the Trio Section, “The Land of Hope and Glory.” It’s quite impressive that John managed to out-rant and out-bore Joe Bob on a subject.

Not surprisingly, the film du jour was 1981’s Graduation Day. Even less surprisingly, Joe Bob launched into musings about the film. First, he wondered why every eighties slasher film had a weed smoking scene, starting with 1978’s Halloween. Darcy cited Randy Meeks from Scream and the importance of the “Sin Factor.”

Joe Bob then launched into his longest rant of the evening, brought on by his disappointment with the lame Kung Fu found at the conclusion of the evening’s film. Ever since Bruce Lee made Enter the Dragon, Hollywood has been saturated by alleged martial arts experts. Couldn’t they have brought in SOMEONE to help Anne Ramstead (Patch Mackenzie), who theoretically received hand-to-hand combat training, do better than the feckless flailing she does against the killer in the film?

Then Joe Bob pondered — at length — about the frustration people in martial arts must feel about training for years and years learning to fight and yet being told they must never initiate a fight. Surely they’ve felt, “I need to kick butt.” He linked it to sexual frustration and the feeling one must feel daily cleaning and maintaining a firearm and never firing. Darcy did not confirm Joe Bob’s thought that everyone must wonder about these things.

Eventually, Joe Bob did get to talking about the film, proper.

Graduation Day was written and directed by Herb Freed, the only known rabbi-turned-horror director. It was co-written with Freed’s wife, Anne Marisse. The couple had made two previous horror films, Haunts and Beyond Evil, neither of which were financially successful. So they went on a drive-in journey, studying slashers during that prolific slasher era, and decided that the key to success was a kill every nine minutes. I don’t quite understand how this applies to Graduation Day, as there are a number of times in the film when more than 9 minutes passes without a murder. Maybe it was an average of a murder every nine minutes over the duration of the film.

Producer David Bond suggested graduation as the theme of the film, since all of the good holidays had been taken, and the film could be released in May — graduation season and the time prior to the release of the big summer blockbusters. Unfortunately, since economics allowed for the production of only 200 prints, the film couldn’t screen everywhere in the country in May. Nonetheless, the film saw great financial success.

I don’t know where they got the idea that for a successful horror film you needed to have Olympic quality athletes, but the film does feature Denise Cheshire with an extended gymnastics routine on the uneven parallel bars (Mutant Family members were also, no doubt, impressed to hear that she would later wear a snowman suit playing the title role in Jack Frost). Tom Hintnaus, who plays Pete the pole vaulter (and suffers one of the more spectacular kills in the film), was scheduled to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics but the U.S. pulled out of the event. I guess this was his consolation prize.

Joe Bob noted that Freed had a reputation for working well with attractive women, and the film certainly has beautiful women. Vanna White has an early screen appearance (well before her years of fame on Wheel of Fortune. Joe Bob noted that Ms. White takes in $15 million a year on the royalties of her likeness on slot machines alone.) Linnea Quigley, a guest at the first Joe Bob Jamboree, is another of the beautiful women, who got the part because another actress drew the line at being nekkid in the film. Linnea has no such lines.

So what were Joe Bob’s Drive-In Totals for Graduation Day?

Following the film, Joe Bob launched into the Commencement Ceremony to honor the achievements of Darcy the Mail Girl.

Earlier, Darcy had asked if she could flash as she crossed the stage but Joe Bob sadly informed her that it violated the policies of the High Sheriffs at AMC. When she pointed out the breast counts in the movies shown, he told her that the network drew a strange distinction between nekkidness in a movie and nekkidness on the set of The Last Drive-In. It was decided the best that could be done was a bikini flash.

Joe Bob opened the ceremony with solemn words through an echoing microphone. He launched into an original composition to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Included in the lyrics:

“Hail Darcy the Mailgirl…

Her motto is “Have Fun” 

All we know comes from Scream…

We live at the Drive-In 

We party till dawn…

We’ll dress up like zombies

Long after Marvel is gone…”

The song continued with a long list of things that would be gone, such as Disney, Hallmark, HBO, Tubi, Netflix, WB, Pluto, and Waffle House, before Mutants would be finished. (I find I must humbly disagree with the learned scholar, Dr. Briggs. The Waffle House, like the Drive-In, will never die.)

After the ceremony, Joe Bob had a piece of bad news for Darcy. She had an incomplete in one course, A-24 Horror, so she would have to take summer school. But, because of her obvious scholastic achievements in the area of horror, she would also be Dean of the School, planning the course work and programming. 

Yes, MonsterVision’s Summer School has returned, the first session will be June 7th!

Joe Bob’s concluding jokes about horses and phones brought forth cries of “Go back to school!”

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