Tag Archives: Daphne Zuniga

The Initiation (1984)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: She has reoccurring nightmares.

Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga) is a college student plagued with reoccurring nightmares as well as suffering from amnesia in which she cannot remember anything that occurred before she was nine. She meets Peter (James Read) who runs a department dealing with sleep research. She hopes he can help her interpret these dreams, but her parents (Clu Gulager, Vera Miles) are greatly opposed to the idea. As these dreams continue to get worse she also gets involved in a sorority in which as part of an initiation ritual she along with her sorority sisters are required to break into her father’s department store and steal some items, but as they do they become stalked and eventually killed by a mysterious killer.

Zuniga makes for an appealing lead and is pretty much the only good thing about the movie as the story itself isn’t too interesting. It becomes clear from the start that the man she sees burning in her dreams is really her father and that the Gulager character was her mom’s lover who is now posing as her father while her real one got carted off to the mental hospital and having to watch someone spend almost two hours trying to figure out something that the viewer already knows isn’t compelling.

The plot is also full of a hundred and one loopholes including the fact that her father had to be institutionalized after received burns over forty percent of his body even though this rarely if ever occurs with real-world burn victims. How Kelly gets her amnesia is confusing as well since we later learn she never really did fall out of a treehouse like she had initially thought. The scene where the Gulager character gets murdered in his own drive way, but the mother does not find out about it until several days later is equally ridiculous because the killer immediately drives away with the dead body with no time to clean up, so the mother would’ve seen all the blood when she went into her own car, but apparently doesn’t.

There is also a scene involving one of the sorority sisters named Marsha (Marilyn Kagan) who tells the others about getting sexually violated by an older man when she was younger, which is not necessary since she is not a main character and what she describes has no connection to the main story. What is even worse is that after telling the others about it she then ‘miraculously’ loses her lifelong frigidity and is ‘cured’ from her horrible memories while also immediately hopping into bed with one of the frat boys, which becomes an insult to rape victims everywhere.

Spoiler Alert!

The film’s ending though is the most annoying. Halfway in I thought I had figured it out by guessing that it was actually Zuniga who was doing the killing. Well it turns out that I was half-right as it is really her twin sister, but there is no indication of this with anything that occurs earlier and still does not explain how it connects to Kelly’s amnesia, nightmares, or lost father. If anyone who has watched this movie can explain how this makes any sense I would appreciate it because it comes off as really dumb otherwise.

End of Spoiler Alert!

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: December 17, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated R

Director: Larry Stewart

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Dorm that Dripped Blood (1982)

the dorm that dripped blood

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Yet another slasher flick.

If, based on its misleading title, you’re figuring this thing will be filled with hot sorority babes having their late night beer parties ruined by an unscrupulous masked killer who does unethical things with an ax then you’ll be sorely disappointed as that is not what you’ll get here. Instead you’ll be treated to a story about five volunteers who clean out an abandoned dorm that looks more like a business building, so that it can be renovated into apartments. During the process they become menaced by a mysterious killer who begins hacking them off one-by-one.

This movie’s one and only claim to fame is that it marks the film debut of Daphne Zuniga who gets promptly killed off within the first 15 minutes by having her head run over by a car! The rest of the cast is not up to the acting standards of a high school play including leading lady Laurie Lapinski whose monotone delivery does nothing to enliven the proceedings.

The gore is okay and probably the only reason I’m giving it 2 points. The scene where the killer beats a man’s head in with a bat looks pretty realistic and the part where he drills into another man’s skull isn’t bad either. The tension though, or what little there is of it, is hurt by having long stretches that feature nothing but extraneous dialogue and wooden characters.

Some fans of the film will point to its so-called surprise ending as a redeeming element. Yes, the identity of the killer is not who you’re expecting, but you know that from the start since the character of the mentally unstable John Hemmit (Woody Roll) is too obviously pushed as being the suspect from the beginning, so you know it has to be someone else. Finding out who the real killer is not interesting as it has no real connection to anything that came earlier and was pretty much done in a random way where the writer/director choose a character you’d least expect, so it would seem like a ‘great revelation’, but with no other logic behind it.

Dull and uninspired this is yet another in a long line of rip-off slasher flicks that adds nothing unique or interesting to the genre and unless you want to see Zuniga in an early performance it’s not worth seeking out.

the dorm that dripped blood 3

Alternate Titles: Death Dorm, Pranks

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: April 12, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated R

Directors: Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow

Studio: New Image

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Sure Thing (1985)

the sure thing 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Love blossoms between opposites.

Walter Gibson (John Cusack) becomes smitten with Alison (Daphne Zuniga). He is a slacker while she is a very studious student. Both attend the same college English class and he uses the ruse of needing help with his studies as a ploy to get closer to her, but it doesn’t work and she ends up hating him. Then his friend Lance (Anthony Edwards) invites him out to California where he has a really hot girl (Nicollette Sheridan) waiting for him and promises that she is a ‘sure thing’. So Walter takes a ride with a couple (Tim Robbins, Mary Jane Persky) that is also going out there only to find that Alison is riding with them as she wants to visit her boyfriend.  Needless to say it is a rocky ride, but after several misadventures love finally begins to blossom between the two.

On a purely romantic level this film scores big time. It nicely recaptures the period in one’s life where everything is still new and exciting and before such things as marital discord, ugly divorces, child custody battles and all that other crap. Instead it emphasizes the rush one feels at being in the presence of someone they are really crazy about and learning to know them through layers. It’s the magical innocence of young love that makes it so endearing and engaging.

Zuniga is beautiful but fortunately not in an overdone, glamorous type of way. My favorite scene with her is when she tries to drink a beer for the first time ‘shotgun style’ and becomes a bit overwhelmed by it. Cusack shows his usual charm, but his social graces seem severely lacking at points near the beginning and I wouldn’t have been surprised if every girl would have found him to be an annoying geek.

In support Edwards is good as his friend and I especially liked his room that is lined with empty bottles of every different brand of beer that he has drunk. Viveca Lindfors is sexy and appealing in her own way as the English teacher and George Memmoli in his last film role has an engaging bit as an overweight man that Walter meets and befriends at a bar in a scene that I wished had been more extended.

The film though does have a few problems. One scene has Walter accusing Alison of being ‘repressed’ and so to prove him wrong she strips off her shirt and bra and then flashes some other cars that they are passing, which to me seemed like too much of an extreme shift in behavior and not realist for that type of character. There is another scene where the two are stranded in the middle of nowhere during a rainstorm and with no money since Alison forgot it at their last hotel stop only to find out that she has a credit card. The film then cuts to showing them eating at a fancy restaurant, which was too much of a jump as a credit card isn’t going to get them from an empty field by itself and the scene needed to show more of a connection on how or who got them out of there.

The biggest problem though is that we have this stunning beautiful, bikini clad blonde in the form of Nicollette Sheridan who apparently can’t get a guy on her own and needs to be ‘set-up’ on a date, which makes no sense. The scenes showing her walking around all alone at a party are absurd because in reality just about every guy in the room would be showing her some attention and she would have no reason to waiting around for an average guy like Cusack to come by to date here. This is the one segment in the movie were it goes dangerously close from being this pleasing slice-of-life romance to a crazy 80’s teen fantasy.

Despite the issues listed above I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It should appeal to the romantic in all of us and nicely balances the old-fashioned love story formula with modern day sensibilities.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: March 1, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Rob Reiner

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray