tek's rating: meh and a half

The Initiation of Sarah (1978)
IMDb; Kindertrauma; TV.com

I watched this online at ABCFamily.com (though it's gone now) several days after watching the remake. And basically, I found the original alot more boring. I suppose it could be partly because it is of another era, but then again, I'm perfectly capable of enjoying movies from that era. I'm not so sure about TV movies, but still.... Whatever, I really think it's just not as good. There are several differences between the two movies, and more than just modern production values stand as improvements. Since I watched this second, I'll talk about changes in this review rather than that one, so even if I'm placing this review first (because it is the original), you might want to read the review of the remake before this one. Or not, your choice....

One nice thing about the original is that it begins with a beach scene (read: girls in bikinis), albeit at night, during the last party of the summer before heading to college. And speaking of college, girls in dorm rooms might not take much notice of how much (or little) they're wearing. But of course, none of this is important. Anyway, as in the remake, the main character is Sarah Goodwin (who we kinda like). It's clear from the beginning that she has certain powers, though unlike the remake, she and her sister (in the remake called Lindsey, but here called Patty; who we like) never talk to each other about those powers. In fact it was some time before anyone actually talked about it at all. Eventually Sarah talked about it to a teaching assistant she liked, named Paul Yates. And there was the house mother of Phi Epsilon Delta, Erica Hunter, a teacher of magical practices in primitive cultures (played by Shelley Winters, who often seemed like she barely remembered her lines). I do believe that is a name change: in the remake it's Pi, not Phi. And their rival sorority is here Alpha Nu Sigma, where in the remake it's Alpha Nu Gamma. Anyway, Mrs. (not Dr.) Hunter eventually talks to Sarah about her powers.

But I'm getting ahead of things. Another change is that Sarah isn't really Patty's sister, as she is Lindsey's in the remake. Sarah was actually adopted by Patty's mother. Meanwhile, Sarah and Patty both seem to want to pledge ANS, and neither seems interested in PED, which btw is interested in Sarah, but not Patty. And of course, ANS is just the opposite, they want Patty but not Sarah. ANS is a bunch of bitches, basically, led by Jennifer Lawrence (played by Morgan Fairchild, who we like). There is a longstanding rivalry between the two sororities, but unlike the remake, ANS doesn't seem to have anything to do with magic. But I still think they're basically evil. Interestingly, Paul teaches a class on psychology, and Sarah wonders in class if people can have both good and evil traits and still be normal. She was thinking of herself, though she wouldn't say anything at the time. Still, I wonder about the ANS bitches... I think they're evil, and I never saw any good in them. And then there are the girls from PED, the main one being a troubled young woman called Mouse (who we kinda liked), who became a good friend of Sarah's (when PED was the only sorority that wanted Sarah). They were basically good, I guess, though Mrs. Hunter... well, she was probably much more evil than the ANS girls. There were also rumors about some girl having died (or killed herself, or something) 20 years ago when Mrs. Hunter was an undergraduate at the school. It seems possible that she may have killed the girl, though I don't think the movie ever proves that definitively... it turns out to be a pretty safe bet. Another thing is, Sarah has never been able to find anything out about her own mother, who simply disappeared long ago, I guess. And I don't think the movie ever even touched on the possibility that she might have been the girl who died 20 years ago, or what might have happened... but, hey, who knows, right? Seems strange not to spell that out in any way, shape, or form, but....

Anyway. Um. I'm not quite sure what else to say. Like in the remake, there is a certain degree of strife between the sisters, being in different sororities. But I think it's more pronounced here than in the remake. And... well, stuff happens. Not alot of stuff. I mean, not alot of interesting stuff. And even the interesting stuff wasn't really that interesting. And I don't really even fully understand anyone's motivations, particularly Mrs. Hunter's, either now or 20 years ago, but she clearly hates the girls of ANS, and wants Sarah to hate them (which isn't hard to do). But even if they deserve a bit of hatred, and a bit of retribution, Mrs. Hunter is just plain crazy, and takes things way too far. But perhaps Sarah will eventually learn the error of her ways and figure out who the real enemy is, and stop her. And perhaps this movie has a sadder ending than does the remake. But I don't really care....


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