SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE
1986/18/86m …or 74m
“Who’ll survive the final exam?”
Director/Writer: Carol Frank / Cast: Angela O’Neill, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio, John C. Russell, Joe Nassi, Marcus Vaughter, Vinnie Bilancio, Gillian Frank.
Body Count: 11
Laughter Lines: “What’s with Beth?” / “Her aunt died.” / “But that was weeks ago…”
“It must have all started the moment I entered the house…” says a girl in a hospital bed. FLASHBACK TIME!
Sorority House Massacre - where the fashions are deadlier than any nutjob with a knife. I paid £0.01 for this DVD. Seriously. And I still feel robbed.
Beth – Courteney Cox-a-like O’Neill – comes to stay at the sorority house Theta Peter something or other where her friend Linda lives, intent on scoping it out to possibly pledge in the future. But no sooner does she enter than a weird feeling creeps up on her, the feeling of deja vu, and her nightmares begin: Creepy dolls, blood dripping on a china tea set, a trio of little girls warning her away blah blah blah.
Across town/state/nation, a guy in an asylum begins twitching and then screaming: HE AND BETH ARE PSYCHICALLY LINKED! Who is he? How does he know her? Why does — oh, fuck it, we all know he’s her brother who flipped and killed the family in that house thirteen years earlier. It takes the cast a good hour to work this out though.
While loon-guy breaks out and steals the station wagon that Michael Myers appropriated and a hunting knife for good measure, Beth tries to fit in with the other sorority girls who are remaining at the house over Memorial Weekend. In between hallucinations of the asylum man in mirrors n’ shit, Beth finds the time to dress in accordance with the others, i.e. awful:
Final Girl noted the presence of the extra at the back there and declared her ‘Banana Orbison’ in her review, and I can’t come up with anything more suitable. Amazing. It’s all just… so… amazing.
One girl asks Beth: “Do you have anything that will go with this?” Yes, fire. And lots of it.
As if this isn’t terrifying enough, Sorority House Massacre commits its first big continuity transgression. Now, the American version of the film clocks in at 74 minutes, while the UK VHS I saw in the 90s ran for 86. Terrible cuts? Better gore? No. More clothes. More scenes of the girls talking about clothes. Or hair. Or boys.
In one such scene, soro sisters Linda and Sara meet on their way back to the house and Linda has totally different hair. Like, completely different, only to cut back to a scene clearly shot some time earlier where she’s back to the old style in the blink of an eye.
They congregate and decide to make the most of their rule of the house by… trying on Cindy’s clothes!!!11!!!1!
This is Cindy in an earlier scene:
What kind of fashionista? She calls this ‘fantasy in blancmange’.
Sorority House Massacre stamps its 80s card once again as we are dragged kicking and screaming into a fashion montage. While Beth sits on the bed looking pensive, Linda, Sara, and Tracy don Cindy’s wardrobe, a.k.a. the possible Gateway to Hell.
The girls pose and doo-wop to the kind of saxophone music used in any given 80s breakfast TV show. It is pain.
C’mon, if Satan didn’t send these garments, who the fuck did?
Later, they receive a delivery of weird Native American ware for a party. The guys come over. Here are the guys:
The guys stick around, Beth has more dramas and lets Linda hypnotise her to try and work out where the bad dreams are coming from, while one of the guys relays the story of the murders that occurred in that very house! Beth ‘sees’ a knife hidden in the fireplace in her state of hypnosis which turns out to be legit there, and everyone stares at it for a bit:
One of the boyfriends leaves and the killer finally shows up and stabs him. Then Tracy and Craig go outside to have sex in the teepee and the killer gets Tracy. Sorority House Massacre returns yet again to the isle of bad continuity:
Finally alert to the presence of the killer, it’s soon just the three remaining girls versus the loon, who sees each one in turn as one of his slain sisters, having to re-kill them before getting to Beth, who still hasn’t worked out she’s the surviving sister. Tenants of sisterhood, sororities, woah, deep thematics or what?
An attempt to use the fire ladder to climb down to safety is thwarted, and when the killer starts to come up, the girls throw the ladder hooks out, only for him to JUMP FROM THE GROUND AND THROUGH A SECOND STOREY WINDOW.
More teenagers die, Beth is the last girl – duh – and finally sticks her brother where it hurts. Cut back to hospital bed, last second hallucinated shock thingy, credits.
Wow, 74 minutes never felt so long. Imagine being British in the 80s and having to trawl through those extra twelve minutes of clothes and hair!?
A bad movie lover’s dream, Sorority House Massacre may suck harder than a Pittsburgh hooker, but it’s occasionally effective: Beth’s dream of the china tea set is suitably weird, and there’s flashes of decent photography, and O’Neill makes for a capable heroine, even if all her efforts are bogged down by mechanical performances (the shrink is quite good), characters with a collective IQ lower than a spoon, and offering up absolutely nothing surprising.
But you still need to see it. Need to.