Not one, not two but three of the women who graduated with dying colours in the 1981 slasher GRADUATION DAY reminisce with Erik Threlfall about what it was like to be sliced and diced on the track-and-field in Herb Freed's cheesy extravaganza! Take it away, Erik ...
Patch McKenzie (played Anne Ramstead - the Final Girl)
Q: How did you get involved with GRADUATION DAY?
Hmmm. Well, I believe my agent just sent me on the audition for it.
Q: Do you recall when and where the film was shot?
We shot it in LaCanada Flint Ridge High School and Descanso Gardens.
Q: What are your recollections of working with genre veteran Christopher George?
Chris George was a gentleman and a pro.
Q: Your character, Anne, is one of the feistiest females to grace a slasher movie. Right from the start we see she takes no nonsense as she deals with an overzealous truck driver and a rather nasty stepfather. Did this aspect attract you to the role? Did you have any input into the character?
I took the role because it was a lead and fun to play the type of character who could get away with things like that when in real life I might be a bit more reserved. However, that feistiness must have been in me somewhere because I found it. Actors usually directly or indirectly have some input into the character because the tone and attitude the use is a choice. Although I do remember wanting to play it less on the nose and the director wanted me to play it more butch which I thought was a bit corny and trite.
Q: What are your thoughts looking back now after 30 years (!!!!). Needless to say, the four of us involved in the podcast are fans of the movie. What are your feelings towards it?
I still enjoy getting fan mail from it so I guess it's stood up over the years. :) Since then I have actually written a thriller genre script myself which I may produce one day when I have more time. through my production company with Jackson Rathbone (also doing thriller genre projects like Twilight and Dread). PatchMo Entertainment. All serious investors welcome :) Thank you for your interest, Erik. Patch Mackenzie
Linnea Quigley (played Dolores - the flirtatious blonde who falls foul of the killer at the school dance)
How did you get the part in Graduation Day?
I had read for the part but they picked someone else then one day my agent got a call i found out the girl hired after saying she would do the topless scene wouldn’t so as an actress who wanted to work i said yes id replace her. They had made a fake head for her and everything.
Q: Horror films of this ilk always look like they are really fun to make. In particular the scene where you and Billy Hufsey dance to the rock band Felony – was it a fun set to be on? How did it compare with some of your later genre work?
I had fun doing the skating scene and it was weird cuz the lead singer of Felony, his wife and I had played guitar with me in a band a year before so i knew them. I called my girlfriend and she came down and was an extra dancing too. I learned never to eat a big lunch when you’re in the middle of running from the killer scene and of course I trip and fall.
Q: You got to work with the late genre icon Christopher George, what are your recollections of him?
I didn’t get to work straight on with Christopher George but the word was he was so great and i wish i had had the chance.
Q: What are your impressions of the movie now? Have you watched it recently?
I haven’t watched the movie in years so i don’t know but it had a creepy ending and at least when I first saw it thought it was a pretty good horror film. I had fun and was working on another horror film at about the same time called The Black Room - that was a small part but at least I was working.
Q: Can you tell us anything about FATAL GAMES?
Fatal games was just like an extra, and was made before Silent Night, Deadly Night .
Q: You are renowned for your work in the area of animal rights. When did this passion start? Do you always look out for the welfare of animals when you are on a film set?
Oh yes and i report if i hear something on another set even; in Italy on Fatal frames I reported a hotel that was hurting kittens and the animal rights people were great and I rescue and do things for PETA and do my own rescue work. I started as a kid but saw a show on TV that really turned me at about 21.
Linda Shayne (played Paula - the jogger who comes to a sticky end!)
Your character of Paula is only in the film very briefly, and this happens with several of the other victims in Graduation Day also - can you remember if you shot other scenes that didn't make the final cut?
Nothing was cut of my part - but oddly enough when I auditioned I had to go to a high school in Hollywood and show that I could run and jump over hurdles. Then when I got the part, they had taken out the hurdles, so I requested that I "hurdle" over something when we filmed. I think I hurdled over a fire hydrant. I was disappointed at the time that we couldn't find something higher, as I had practiced and had gotten pretty good at hurdle jumping!
Q: This is a long shot, but do you have any idea how much money the film made at the box office? Or even a memory of how successful it was theatrically. IMDB says it made 24 million but we are fairly certain that is incorrect as it would mean it did better than FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 that year.
Q: What are you recollections of working with the director Herb Freed?
Herb was a nice guy and very easy to work with.
You also appeared in another classic horror movie of the era, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP - did this appearance help you get the role in GRADUATION DAY?
I got my Screen Actors Guild card doing "Humanoids" so in that respect it helped that I was in the union when I auditioned for "Graduation Day."
Q: Have you watched GRADUATION DAY recently - how do you feel looking back on it and HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP? Would you be a fan of the genre?
My favorite "scary movie" of all time is the classic "Wait Until Dark" which is more of a thriller, but had me and my sister screaming when we saw it. I am not much of a blood and guts fan, but am grateful that low budget movies allowed me to break into the film business and starting off for Roger Corman was very cool.
Q: Is that your 'head' we see under the bleachers at the end of the movie? It's kind of hard to make out. Also, how were you on set with and did you get to mingle with other cast members who weren't involved in your scene?
I don't think that is my head under the bleachers! I don't remember something like that. On set I remember speaking a bit with actor Christopher George. I just looked at the credits and didn't realize until now that Vanna White was in the movie too.
Another thing I remember is that mom went to a matinée of the movie with a neighbor when it first came out. She telephoned me afterwards and told me that although she knew it was just a movie, it was still difficult for her to watch me get killed. I can understand that. It was much more fun for my mom when she went with me when I taped the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Have a great podcast.
review of GRADUATION DAY.