The Initiation of Sarah (1978) – By Charles Rector

Back during the 1970’s, it was common network TV practice that whenever there was a big movie that was considered too indecent to be put on the network, the network would contract with a TV production house to make a TV movie along the same lines as the big theater movie but that fit within the network’s decency standards. In other words, the there were made for TV movie imitations of theatrical big box office hits. One such made for TV movie is the 1978 The Initiation of Sarah that was an imitation of the 1976 R rated Carrie.

The producer that the network chose for this task was Charles W. Fries. Fries was a prolific producer of made for TV movies and miniseries who, oddly enough, rarely made any TV series. Many of Fries’s productions were in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. Also, many of Fries’s productions received high ratings that made him an excellent choice to produce The Initiation of Sarah.

For the most part, Fries selected a great cast. Kay Lenz was cast in the starring role of Sarah Goodwin. Morgan Brittany was her understanding stepsister Patty Goodwin. Screen veteran Shelley Winters played the role of the mysterious housemother. On the negative side, the good looking but untalented Morgan Fairchild was cast in the key role as the stuck up sorority queen Jennifer.

Both Sarah and Patty choose to attend the same college where Jennifer reigns supreme. College life is like a big clique with Jennifer reigning over all her subjects. Other students literally grovel and kowtow to Jennifer. Jennifer takes a liking to the beautiful Patty, but shuns the relatively homely Sarah.

Subsequently, Sarah is shunned by all of the sororities on campus until she finally finds a sorority composed of nothing but homely females. The sorority sisters quickly bind together since their experience on campus consists of little more than being subjected to the torments supplied by Jennifer and her pals. This stress causes Sarah to unleash her powers. The resulting "coincidences" go unnoticed by everyone except the sorority’s housemother who encourages Sarah to engage in massive revenge for the perceived crimes that had been inflicted upon both Sarah and her sorority sisters.

Anyone familiar with the movie Carrie can see the parallel storyline down to the finale of fire. However, the Initiation of Sarah is but a pale imitation of the original. However, there are some instances where the movie achieves a creepy atmosphere and some real suspense. If you want to see another 1978 ripoff of Carrie, there is a low budget theatrical flick called Jennifer starring Lisa Pelikan that is of roughly the same quality of The Initiation of Sarah.