The House on Sorority Row (1983)
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Sorority girls pull a prank on their house mother, only for her to end up dead and the girls left in a world of trouble. They believe they have covered up the crime, but when night falls someone begins to seek murderous revenge against the sorority sisters. Questions abound, but will anyone be left alive to answer them?
Between director Mark Rosman and a decent cast, this low-budget horror tale rises above many of it's kind. Rosman makes the most of the filming locations while nicely adding stylistic touches to the film with good camera work and some nice imagery. He creates some truly effective moments of psychological horror, as well as physical (with some occasional bloody moments). Ultimately the film manages to build to some good suspense and a claustrophobic finale! Also of note is the lavishly wonderful music score, which provides some beautiful and haunting themes for the film.
A worthy (and under exposed) horror outing for genre fans! Check it out.
*** out of ****
The "Friday the 13th" franchise commanded the slasher explosion by 1983.
Tons of slasher movies were released but only few are still in the memory of horror fans. "House On The Sorority Row" may be one of those films that are still remembered and recurred for some slasher fun.
The plot is somewhat inspired by Friday the 13th. The movie starts with Ms. Slater giving birth to a boy... Sadly, she has to abort due to some difficulties. Twenty years later (or more)Ms. Slater -now the owner and director of a sorority house for girls-is killed by the sorority girls. The girls killed her accidentally as they were planning a prank on her. These girls try to hide Ms. Slater's dead body outside the house. Unfortunately to them, the body disappears and suddenly these girls and their boyfriends start to disappear. One by one, these teens are brutally murdered inside and near the Sorority house. Katie Rose (one of the girls that had to do with the murder) finds 2 dead people and believes that Ms. Slater didn't die and now is doing the murders. Katie goes with the Doctor that 20 years witnessed Ms. Slater's abortion. To Katie's surprise, the Doctor confessed that the child didn't die and probably is living inside the house.
Katie and her boyfriend especulate that Ms. Slater's son watched her mother being killed and now is taking revenge. Katie realizes that her friends are still on the house and their lives are in risk. Could it be that Ms. Slater came from the grave and is taking revenge? Is it possible that Ms. Slater's son is alive? Katie and her boyfriend return to the house to solve the mystery and stop the killing spree. Witness one of the most shocking and terrorific endings in slasher cinema.
"House On The Sorority Row" delivers a great slasher experience as it's gory, suspenful, and very well directed. The acing and fun factor are interesting as you can imagine the outcome of the movie but you're never sure about it. The best thing about the movie is the creepy atmosphere. You can say the girls are terrorized while being inside the dark, big house.
This movie was the producer's first and last experiece in the industry. I think these people had a good potential in the genre. This movie is buried in the slasher cementery, just behind the precursor franchises of the genre.
4/10 Overall. On the slasher rating: 7/10
The plot revolves around the 7 girls of Theta-Pi sorority: Katey, Vicki, Liz, Diane, Stevie, Jeanie and Morgan. At the end of their college days, the Thetas decide to have one last fling before they go. However, their evil house mother, Mrs. Slater, is willing to do anything to stop the festivities. But that doesn't mean that the Thetas don't have a plan of their own. They decide to pull a very cruel prank on Mrs. Slater, which is guaranteed to work perfectly. But the prank goes too far, and it results in Mrs. Slater's death. Afraid that the police will suspect them, the girls hide Mrs. Slater's body in the pool. They will have their party and will get rid of the corpse in the morning. Unfortunately, somebody knows what they did, and that person decides that they're going to make the girls of Theta-Pi pay for what they did.
"The House On Sorority Row" is very similar to "Prom Night" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer." However, "Prom Night" and its successor were there before the 1997 box-office smash.
The cast is well-chosen with Kate MacNeil as Katey, Eileen Davidson as Vicki, and the rest of the sorority girls are not bad.
"The House On Sorority Row" does have its flaws, but they are only minor. One of the girls has almost zero lines of dialogue, the film drags just a little bit, and it's so obvious that Lois Kelso Hunt's(who played Mrs. Slater) voice is entirely dubbed, since director Mark Rosman says that her voice was not scary enough for the role. But I did not pay attention to these issues, and I really enjoyed the movie.
The result: Sometimes, what a slasher fan needs is a little bit more than just a hack-em-up film. Some genre fanatics might look for a slasher-thriller. "The House On Sorority Row" is that movie. It offers suspense, a little bit of gore, some of the inevitable female nudity, good characters and a creepy villain. Not to be missed.
The movie is based on a group of seven sorority sisters who are all just about to graduate college and they come up with the idea of throwing an illicit party at the sorority house. If the girls just could have gotten the blessing from their sorority mother, who is Mrs. Slater, this party would have worked out. Instead, Mrs. Slater won't allow any such party under her roof. Mrs. Slater wants the house to be vacant during that weekend- and you'll find out why later.
The girls decide to rebel against Mrs. Slater's wishes, particularly Vikki, who is played by Eileen Davidson. By doing so they all participate in a prank targeting Mrs. Slater. However, this prank takes a turn for the worst. Soon thereafter, these college babes come up missing. It then turns into a tale of whodunit. Solid direction, which is done with such finesse by Mark Rosman.
I liked the idea of the killer in this one, who uses a sharp cane for the weapon of choice. Some memorable death scenes are a decapitated head found in a toilet bowl and various stabbings with that cane that I had just mentioned.
There are plenty of genre flicks that deal with this same topic. Those that I am referring to are: PROM NIGHT, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE and THE INITIATION. The House On Sorority Row isn't anything groudbreaking, but it does still satisfy us bloodhounds out there. The script is original, the suspense scenes are built up with the proper tension and there is a satisfactory amount of blood; however there could of been more. In addition, I thought that the cast did a better then decent job on the acting duties.
The budget DVD is worth getting. The uncut version is now available for the first time in the U.S., which does include the extra cinema shots of Vikki getting stabbed to death. Previously, this was unattainable in the U.S.
I give it 7/10
A bunch of sorority girls planning a party, a prank gone awry, the evil house mother. We see a girl put on lipstick (bright red), and she's the first to die. One of them is the bitch, the ring leader, another is the good one who tries to dissuade the rest.
It doesn't take a genius to make a film like Scream then. Only someone with basic observation skills. The only difference between the Wes Craven parody and this, is that Wes Craven understood how laughably derivative a lot of this is.
Now, while other sorority slasher flicks tend to be very tacky with lots of female nudity, this one is actually very stylish and we only get to see two girls get naked (sorry guys, but it'll just have to do). The movie is brilliantly directed and the photography is so incredible that this movie could've been made today. Oh don't you just love these high budget slasher flicks?
The acting is actually very good, Eileen Davidson whose great during her short time in this film, All in all, The House On Sorority Row is a highly entertaining slasher flick with a very clever story, even if very predictable. If you, like me, love high budget slasher flicks with a little brains, this will most likely entertain you as much as it entertained me.
If you look for shocks, then surprise: there are shocks.
If you look for gore, then surprise: there is gore.
And there is suspense, and there is pretty people all about.
This was, after all, what 80's slasher horror was all about. Do not forget that the proliferation of these films in the 1980's was no mistake: if you watch this film, you can watch it either for a good startle, a good lark, or merely as a study in the culture of the time.
Prom Night, Friday the 13th, Halloween...all of them say something about us between the late 70's and the late 80's- a loss of innocence, a loss of restraint, and the depreciation of the antiquated values that came with a homogeneous and repressed society.
In all of those cases, the gloves came off with these slashers; what made this one unique was that it did not swamp us in sequels which repeated the message. Culturally, this study of privilege, of deception, of 'sisterhood,' and yes, even of vengeance stands well because it stands alone.
I will not ruin the movie for anyone, for clearly there are enough spoilers on here if you wish to ruin the surprise of the movie- however as my younger sister, an anti-80's slasher horror critic said to me after watching this one day, this is one creepy, scary movie! If you let yourself enjoy it, and enjoy it for what it is, and what it says about the time before computers, you may just agree!
Eye Candy: Eileen Davidson as Vicki shows breasts and ass, Jodi Draigie (in her sole acting credit) goes topless
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the special edition of MBV and it motivated me to dig through my collection and re-visit a few other cycle entries that had been gathering dust on my shelves. It seems to be the latest trend to remake eighties slasher movies and The House on Sorority Row looks set to be the next celebrated feature to receive an updated re-birth.
If titles such as Madman and The Prowler were rivals to the gore-led Friday the 13th films of the early eighties and were inspired by Sean Cunningham's visually graphic depiction of the slasher formula, then Mark Rosman's bizarrely under-rated entry took its lead from Carpenter's 'less is more' approach. Sorority Row does not boast a bunch of outrageously gory kill scenes and its bogeyman does not sport an audacious mask. It does, however, offer a slick suspense-fuelled runtime of classy directorial embellishments and down-to-earth and believable characters.
In order to get revenge on their unforgiving house-mother, seven sorority sisters plan an audacious prank. Unfortunately, the joke backfires and the elderly owner of the house ends up dead. The youngsters do their best to cover-up the 'accident', but it seems that someone witnessed the killing and begins to stalk and gruesomely slaughter them. Who could be behind the murders?
Slumber Party Massacre is generally recognised as the key sorority slasher, which is a shame, because The House on Sorority Row is much stronger and infinitely more deserving of that status. From the off we see that this is a cool and classy thriller thanks to Rosman's razor sharp direction and some tightly edited scares. The film successfully juxtaposes the innocence of child-like imagery such as clowns and dolls with the dementia of a revenge-fuelled maniac and creates a deeply macabre atmosphere. There's some chilling flourishes spaced frequently throughout the feature, which include the victims finding toys before they are slaughtered and the classic 'decapitated head in the toilet' trick.
The director skilfully mimics John Carpenter's use of shadow-play to build suspense and the bogeyman remains mysteriously shrouded in the darkness of his non-identity. Perhaps one of the film's key strengths is the realism of its characters. Many of the latter Scream-inspired slashers would fail because of their persistence in attempting to make a cast of purely beautiful people seem factual. Let's face it, we don't all look like glamour models and we don't all have a rich mummy and daddy a phone call away, so how can we relate in any way to a story depicted using that methodology? Rosman recognised this and instead of a giving us a synopsis full of brainless-bimbos, the characters here are natural and in effect, not without their flaws.
Rosman had previously worked alongside Brian De Palma and was the Assistant Director on Home Movies from1980. He learned a lot along the way and some of the stylish photography was particularly impressive considering that this was the twenty-four year old's feature début. The hallucination scenes towards the climax are creative horror-imagery at its finest and the operatic score is at times pulse-raising. That final scene, which sees the killer raise from the shadows in creepy clown attire, is as iconic as anything from the life-span of the genre and the fact that the heroine is heavily sedated only adds to the plausibility of her chaotic state of mind.
Credit also must be given to the cast who carry the plot comfortably and Kate McNeil was superb as the easily-manipulated Katharine. Eileen Davidson puts in a good stint as Vicky and the dramatics remain competent right the way through. Like many eighties slashers, the final version that was released was not as the director had intended and an extension to the ending was filmed and re-edited just before release. Let's hope that one day we will get a special edition disk with all the deleted scenes restored.
Rosman has stated in the past that he was not a particularly big fan of horror cinema and that he made this feature just to get a foot on the Hollywood ladder. That's somewhat tough to believe as House is a movie that's well-aware of its genre trademarks. The links with Halloween are too numerous to be coincidental and its doubtful that such stylish horror-imagery could be conveyed by a half-hearted auteur. The fact that Rosman is executive producer on the upcoming remake of this feature must prove that he still has a place for the genre somewhere in his heart.
Whether the remake will be a success or not is debatable. So far the casting decisions have both bewildered and disappointed. One of the key attributes to the strength of the original Sorority Row was its realism and the sympathetic motive of its bogeyman, which if lost in the re-imaging, could prove detrimental. We can only keep our fingers crossed that Rosman will not allow his greatest feature to be ruined by a cash-hungry studio, because The House on Sorority Row is deserving of so much more.
Easily one of the best of the early eighties slasher flicks; if you haven't already seen this suspense-marathon, you need to be asking yourself why not???
As with any slasher, the story isn't overly complicated, although it does a good job of setting up a plausible scenario for the teens/twentysomethings in a big house being slowly stalked by something horrible.
Basically, the girls have finished university and want to have a party in their sorority house, but the house mother won't allow it - for some reason she always shuts the house earlier than all the others (Mystery and intrigue? You got it by the bucketload :). Led to revolt by Vicky, the girls play a prank on the house mother but it goes wrong, and then, at the party, the girls start disappearing...
The film has some good characters - for once we don't have an utterly virginal heroine whose morals are her strength. Instead we have several girls, most of them scared enough by what is happening to follow Vicky, the rebellious and selfish one, and the heroine as the only one who sees that Vicky is actually quite a stupid and uncaring bitch of a character.
By far my favourite bits were towards the end where the heroine has been injected with sedative and starts to space out...some relatively simple effects are used very well to create a thoroughly creepy build up to the finale.
My only criticisms of the film would be the ending, which seems somehow incomplete, and the killer's weapon - a walking cane which, while distinctive, just doesn't instill any fear in the viewer.
But the effects are great, there's some nice little set pieces, and overall I'd definitely recommend any slasher fans to watch it. It urinates from a great height on every slasher flick released in the last couple of years.
HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW starts off promisingly: the acting ain't bad. The camerawork is good. And the set-up is plausible. So I had high hopes for this film while watching it but then suddenly it turned bad, FAST! I have no idea why the quality of the film deteriorated so quickly but it happened right after the stupid scene with the woman who was attacked by the mysterious killer and helped by the film's heroine safely back into the house, only to have to watch the woman not go where the people were or where the party was happening but go alone in a bathroom on the deserted second floor, is when I gave up on it. The scene is just plain STUPID. The filmmakers wants us to believe that a woman who was attacked by a total stranger, didn't seek refuge where it would have been impossible for the killer to attack her again? Come on. But the scene in the bathroom itself is terrible and we've seen it a million times already. The rest of the film is pure junk. The gore effects were terrible. The hand that got stabbed looked like it was made of papier maché. In fact, everything involved with prosthetic effects looked like they were made of clay or papier maché.
The really crappy thing about HOSR is the heroine. She was a freaking pain in the butt with her noble and stuck-up attitude. The actress who played her, Kate McNeil, wasn't that good or interesting. Eilein Davidson should have been the heroine. She would have been a formidable heroine. I wanted Kate McNeil's character to die a slow and miserable death.
The direction and the script are at fault here. No one behind the caneras understands horror. The sub-plot with the doctor locking up the entire house was pointless. Scenes of McNeil having hallucinatory moments were truly laughable and amateurish. Hard to believe anyone thought those scenes were effective or added anything to the film. The many moments with the girls trying to get rid of the body reminded me of WEEKEND'S AT BERNIES. And the ending in the attic is unbelievable stupid and ineffective. No suspense or terror. And the very last shot of the movie, after the heroine made the killer fall from the attic down to the next floor, and the body of the killer is not moving or anything but then his eyes suddenly open. That's it. That's the last shot of the film. What happened after that? Did the killer murder McNeil's character ( I hope so)? Did the killer in the clown suit ran away and joined the circus? Did the two get married? Was the ending done in preparation for an eventual sequel that never happened(Arf!)? The whole ending left me with a big "Huh?" That has got to be the lamest ending I've seen in a horror film, and I've seen a lot of them.
To add more kookiness to this already wretched product is the undeniable feel that while I was watching HOSR I was actually watching a Brian De Palma movie. Then I read somewhere that the director of HOSR used to work with De Palma. Wow! No wonder HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW starts off great and ends miserably. It's a Brian De Palma trademark: aside from CARRIE, all of De Palma's movies have great beginnings, lousy endings. If I had known that the director used to work with De Palma, then I probably wouldn't have bothered to watch this flick.
The film is fairly well done for what it is, an independent low budget slasher. It has a great memorable theme tune and an interesting plot, though a very stereotypical one of an '80s horror.
A group of girls grow fed up with the house keeper, the aging Mrs Slater. A prank is pulled, though she ends up shot with a pistol. Her deformed child watches this whole event through the window, and starts picking them off one by one with a sharp object. Elements of Friday the 13th pop up at the end when we see him in a toy's mask.
Overall, it's a good film, if you're willing to accept the times and budget. The main character Katherine is played by a decent actor, and if you liked the movie "I Know What You Did Last Summer" then you may enjoy this one.
I hope you benefit from my review.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: The idea of a woman keeping her lunatic son in the attic made a change from summer camps, but you could not help wishing the film would get a move on. Some of the murders were well shot, but again a different weapon might have made the gore a lot more interesting.
The ending was stupid. A typical attempt at a dramatic finale leaving the film open for a sequel was totally ruined. The makers should have watched Friday the 13th for ideas on how to close a film and yet leave the way open for another.
Save your money and leave this piece of garbage where it belongs, gathering dust.
The acting is generally OK, in comparison to most other films of similar nature. The murder scenes are a mixed bag. Some are quite gripping while others are just plain bad. Director Rosman has an adequate feel for creating an overall uneasy mood by use of camera-work and lighting etc., which was used to more brilliant effect in Black Christmas. But he isn't as good at sustaining it as Bob Clark was. The film just becomes a routine slasher, with all the familiar settings and executions. The final showdown is fairly tense though, not too logical but that's maybe not why we watch these films in the first place.
In the end I guess I got what I wanted, a pleasant enough time killer. It's just that I thought this was going to be a little different. Aside from a few artistic touches here and there, this film falls completely in the Friday the 13th vein rather than unjustifiably comparing it to superior stuff like Black Christmas and the original Halloween. It's just not that good.