Tag Archives: sorority

SILENT MADNESS

silentmadness 1984/18/87m

“The screaming never stops.”

A.k.a. Beautiful Screamers; The Nightkillers; The Omega Factor

Director/Writer: Simon Nuchtern / Writers: Robert Zimmerman, William O’ Milling & Nelson DeMille / Cast: Belinda Montgomery, David Greenan, Viveca Lindfors, Solly Marx, Sydney Lassick, Roderick Cook, Stanja Lowe, Ed Van Nuys, Dennis Helfend, Philip Levy, Tori Hartman, Katherine Kamhi, Katie Bull, Elizabeth Kaitan.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “Just because the goddamn broad is so good looking don’t mean we all have to think with our dicks!”

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Amazingly cool poster art and 3D aspect side, this no-frills co-ed campus slasher is pretty much a run of the mill two-star effort until it caught me out with a quite unexpected twist, which elevated it above the dime-a-dozen girls’ school terror subset.

A psychotic named Howard Johns (Marx) is accidentally released from an institute in place of the intended out-patient John Howard in the administrative error from hell! He gravitates back to the scene of a seventeen-years gone massacre at a sorority house and begins knocking off the girls who haven’t left for fall break in a re-enactment of the previous slaughter.

Meanwhile, Montgomery is the psychiatrist who believes something to be amiss when the creepy Dr Kruger (who speaks with a ridiculous English accent) claims that Johns is actually dead. So she goes to the sorority house where the nail-gun murders occurred and poses as ex-alumni while Kruger dispatches his duo of equally creepy attendants to catch and kill the wayward loon. Murders are intermittent and sloppy while Montgomery explores the house’s boiler room, which is roughly the size of a concert arena, allowing for drawn out stalk-a-thons therein.

Lindfors is amusing as the slut-hating housemother, whose role was far more obvious when I watched the film a second time. Some of the murder setups are seemingly intentionally funny: one girl is playing a video game and shouting (at it); “look behind you! slash! run!” while her friend is suspended upside down on a piece of gym equipment, Johns wraps one end of a skipping rope around her neck and the other around a barbell, which is then tossed out of the window! Acting, characterisation and credibility are all washed away in a tide of silliness and the roster of familiar faces seem wasted.

Blurbs-of-interest: Sydney Lassick was in The Unseen and was also Carrie‘s English teacher; Katherine Kamhi was the bitchy counsellor Meg in Sleepaway Camp; Elizabeth Kaitan (the skateboardin’ sister) was in Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 and played Robin in Friday the 13th Part VII. Paul DeAngelo, also from Sleepaway Camp, is the first guy killed.

BURIED ALIVE

buriedalive

2006/18/91m

“Evil has awakened.”

Director: Robert Kurtzman / Writer: Art Monterastelli / Cast: Terence Jay, Leah Rachel, Erin Michelle Lokitz, Tobin Bell, Steve Sandvoss, Lindsey Scott, Germaine De Leon, Beth Biasella.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “Great weekend…fuckin’ snakes, psychos and dweebs.”

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Is Tobin Bell the new Pleasence or Englund? He seems to be cropping up in more and more obscure B-movies these days on the back of the Saw-travaganza. Good for him though, he’s pretty cool, ain’t he?

Anyway, Buried Alive isn’t Tobin-centric, he’s a red-herringy bit-parter this time round as a grizzled custodian at the ranch where collegiate cousins Zane and Rene – who’re a bit too close for comfort – bring a gaggle of friends for the weekend to party hard, initiate new sorority pledges and fall victim to a girl-ghoul who’s severely pissed off about something. She appears mostly to Zane (Jay) who has “stopped taking his pills” and can therefore see what nobody else does. Until later when suddenly they all can. Or something.

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Zane and Rene are of the belief that their ancestry is cursed, having something to do with their great-Grandfather burying his Native American wife alive, a big fire and a symbol on a talisman that protects those who wear it. It’s a confusing backstory that’s dragged out amidst hazing pranks and sexual exploits before the slashin’ begins, courtesy of the decomposing missus, who likes to bury axes into young academics, or chop them in half or slice their faces off…

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While we are privy to the cut n’ dried character cut-outs of the geek, the obnoxious jock and the sorority bimbos, it becomes clear that one of the pledges is a dark horse who not only knows a lot about symbolism and its relative lore but has the design from the talisman tattooed on her back, which saves her from becoming the resting place for the killer’s axe.

The second half of the film really cranks into gear, taking cues from recent J-horror hits and ending with a nicely done sorta-twist. Even with the upsurge in quality towards the finale (a reversal of what normally happens in horror films, which have a tendency to start well and go downhill), it’s a case of too little too late for Buried Alive to be much more than a passing interest.

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Blurb-of-interest: Bell’s other recent foray into supernatural slasherism is Boogeyman 2.

#500

sorority-row-fb-poster2SORORITY ROW

3.5 Stars  2009/15/101m

“Sisters for life…and death.”

Director: Stewart Hendler / Writers: Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger & Mark Rosman (original screenplay) / Cast: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Margo Harshman, Carrie Fisher, Julian Morris, Caroline D’Amore, Matt Lanter, Maxx Hennard, Audrina Patridge, Matt O’Leary.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “You make being a bitch an art form.”


My celebrated 500th slasher flick! Yay or nay? Perhaps a dash of both.

The dreaded R word crops up again in a case of yet another early 80’s pseudo-cult-classic being – ugh, I even hate typing it – “re-imagined”, “re-tooled”, or whatever the hell you want to call it. Actually, I’m not so fazed by them, anything that draws attention to the (usually) superior originals is positive. 1982’s House On Sorority Row is a fairly elusive member of the slasher alumni, one directed with both care and flair by Mark Rosman (who signs on as Exec Producer here), it was another of the moral-dilemma slasher pics from the era, or as everyone on the internet seems to think of them now, films in the I Know What You Did Last Summer mould. ‘Tis true that many-a-film have featured the not-so-secret secret characteristic at their core and it’s a form I quite like, opening up lots of potential for realistic characters and their respective reactions that give us good insight into their persona.

Sorority Row, as it’s now called, is a remake only in that it follows this same basic guideline. The girls of the Theta Pi Sorority are out to teach Megan’s straying boyfriend Garrett a lesson and trick him into thinking she’s died after he slipped her a few roofies given to him by substance-abusing big sis Chugs. President Jessica takes Garrett, supposedly dead Megan, and four other girls away from the house on the promise of taking her to hospital when they take a ‘wrong turn’ and end up at an old mine where a freaked-out Garrett impales her with a tire iron after they discuss the best means to ensure the body doesn’t float.

shaft

With a real body at their feet, the girls (and boy) bicker over what to do. Fortuitously, there is no cell phone reception and a nearby deep mine shaft. Only nominal nice girl Cassidy makes a real case for going to the cops but is out-voted, while nervy smart girl Ellie (we know she’s smart because she’s shy and wears oversized specs) is too broken up to have a say. Jessica convinces them to toss the body down the mine and forget about it. However, it’s nice that, for once, it’s mentioned that they will have to life with the dreadful secret for the rest of their lives.

Eight months later, the girls graduate and prepare to vacate Theta Pi to the tune of a hooj see-ya-later party. Spirits are soon lowered by the arrival of text messages that show the now ‘pimped-up’ tire iron in someone’s grasp. It’s a hell of a lot sharper… The girls assume Garrett is behind it and distract themselves with preparing for their party while a cloaked maniac begins a merry quest to set right their wrong. Could it be Megan’s sister, who’s just turned up out of the blue and wants to pledge? One of the girls themselves, wrecked by guilt? Megan risen from the grave?

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After a few introductory murders, which are not limited to those involved in the prank, the killer baits the remaining girls with further text threats until only they and a sprinkling of others remain at the sorority house, post-party for the home run. It’s this final third where Sorority Row starts to sink under its own weight. The mystery element, up until now, has been engaging, the murders fun without being too grisly and Jessica’s never ending witty retorts and lack of sympathy for anybody else have been continually amusing. There are a few totally unsubtle changes, Carrie Fisher going all Ma Barker with a shotgun and a bizarrely realised threat in the form of another party ‘in the know’ who may or may not be the killer…

Memories of the ill-conceived Black Christmas remake flood back towards the end, which also takes a stroll down Slumber Party Massacre lane towards the flat climax and a not-so-clear “twist” prit-sticked on to the very end. It’s a shame as things were going so well up until the regrouping at the mine, where it becomes clear that perhaps Sorority Row isn’t the straight-faced slasher flick it looked like it was going to be. Case in point: there are certain characters we want to die with an added dose of cruelty because of their abhorrent nature, instead, said individuals are done away with far too quickly and…comically? What’s that about? Where’s the long, harrowing chase before the fatal blow? There are a few too many gags once the killer is unmasked, their exposition pretty feeble and unconvincing – but when did these guys ever play with a full deck, eh?

Ultimately a confusing one, not least because of mixed intentions, but enough merit to engage for the running time, well written dialogue (although most of it belongs to something like Jawbreaker) and a cast of semi-familiar faces to horror fans, plus a good central figure in Evigan’s take on Cassidy and Pipes is great as super-bitch Jessica. Sorority Row is one of those films that probably needs a twice-over to make sure you totally understood where it was taking you. It graduates, but sadly without honours.

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Blurbs-of-interest: Leah Pipes was the heroine in Fingerprints; as was Margo Harshman in Simon Says. Julian Morris was in Cry_Wolf. Carrie Fisher had a cameo in Scream 3.

Fa la la la laaa

toallagoodnight

TO ALL A GOODNIGHT

3 Stars  1980/84m

“You’ll scream ’til dawn.”

Director: David Hess / Writer: Alex Rebar / Cast: Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile, William Lauer, Judith Bridges, Katherine Herrington, Buck West, Sam Shawshak, Angela Bath, Denise Stearns, Soloman Trager, Jeff Butts, Bill Martins, Jay Rasumny.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “God bless aeroplanes!”


Have you ever gotten yourself so hyped over something only to walk away disappointed? Course you have, haven’t we all? I wasn’t so much amped up for To All A Goodnight, ’twas more a case of looking for a copy for so damn long, finding one, it never arriving, waiting another couple of years and forking out big bucks for it, only for it to be…you know…not that good.

But it’s not without its charms either. Judging from its surface-level presentation, there are those who would write it off as another cheap replica of Friday the 13th. Directed by one of the psycho-rapists from Last House on the Left and boasting one of the earliest Killer Santa’s, it’s at least better than the coma-inducingly bad You Better Watch Out! In the first forty seconds, a girl tumbles to her death over a balcony at the Calvin Finishing School for girls, prompting somebody to finish off her classmates two years later during Christmas vacation when only a few of them remain and, naturally, have invited some boys over for a wild party.

The narrative structure here is a departure from the normal run of events; Saint Nick murders several of the youngsters in quick succession before we find ourselves welcoming in a new day, with the cops investigating the discovery of a body while the remaining targets ponder the fate of their missing friends. That night, the slaughter picks up where it left off until goody-goody heroine Nancy is thrown into direct conflict with the killer. Although there’s little new in the way of M.O., Santa favours cutting implements to downsize the graduating class and even resorts to aeroplane propellers at one memorable point. Elsewhere, one likely victim is cornered by the killer (whilst naked) but strangely granted mercy and goes mad, ballet dancing along the landing!

Failing to guess the identity of the maniac should concern anybody who considers they are of average intelligence, but there is a good, though muddled twist added so’s not to make it look too dumb. All this one needs is a decent DVD release to make the picture a little easier to see and, heaven forbid, could even do with a remake…

Blurb-of-interest: Hess was in Camping Del Terrore; producer Sandy Cobe was also the force behind Home Sweet Home, Terror on Tour and Open House.

KILLER PARTY

killerparty

KILLER PARTY

3.5 Stars  1986/18/88m

“DEADicated to the class of ’86.”

A.k.a. Fool’s Night / The April Fool

Director: William Fruet / Writer: Barney Cohen / Cast: Elaine Wilkes, Sherry Willis-Burch, Joanna Johnson, Martin Hewitt, Ralph Seymour, Woody Brown, Alicia Fleer, Paul Bartel, Deborah Hancock, Terri Hawkes.

Body Count: 11

Direlogue: “…And now your yearly film on the dangers of hazing.”


It’s a real shame that lots of these old B-movies haven’t yet made it to international DVD distribution, that’s why there’re sod all screen shots of it here as I have no idea how to cull those from my love-worn VHS copy.

Killer Party is a curious little gem with few fans. Reportedly shot in 1984 and then shelved for two years before MGM cut out most of the bloodletting and gave it a minimal release, like most of the Canadian slasher films of this era, it’s a fun pic with likable characters and a good sense of humour mixed in with the horror, which, here concerns college gal-pals Phoebe, lovable nerd Viva and the hesitant Jennifer and their attempts to get into Sigma Alpha Pi – “the best sorority on campus”. Hi-jinks and pranks are to culminate in the girls’ acceptance at “goat night” (!?), which will be held at the requisite haunted frat house, where a lone gravestone sits in the overgrown yard for a brother who died in a hazing prank two decades earlier…

Murders begin to plague the campus and, once the party is in full swing, a psycho dressed as – of all things – a deep sea diver – stalks and slays those left in the ol’ house… This flimsy-sounding plot doesn’t do Killer Party much justice: from the double-fake opening, featuring a film-within-a-film-within-a-music-video (White Sister’s 80s-tastic April – which is available on iTunes), to the demonic possession outcome via Paul Bartel as a pompous lecturer and the kinda-sweet romance that develops between Jennifer and cute frat boy Blake, all panning out well thanks to well-written dialogue and a self-effacing sense of humour, most of it spoofing the ridiculousness of fraternity/sorority initiations (the goats-eye ceremony is great).

Veronica: “Phoebe…”

Phoebe: “Hi!”

Veronica: “Kitchen!”

Phoebe: “Bye…”

Working against the film is probably the cut n’ shut nature of the editing: most of the violence takes place in the last thirty minutes, much of it confused and disempowered by the removal of money shots and there are some characters who completely disappear from the film altogether. There’s also a curious heirarchy to the credits, with Martin Hewitt and Ralph Seymour getting first billing, despite their comparatively small roles compared to our plucky heroines. Ultimately, it’s this trio of spunky girls that makes Killer Party a real party flick with a few familiar faces to spot for genre aficionados and doesn’t have to stoop to dire cliches to make you laugh at it – although the credits’ song – which sounds like Bananarama suffering with avian influenza – leaves a lot to be desired. Any way you look at it, this film’s cool for being so un-cool and you should go and find a copy.

Blurbs-of-interest: Director Fruet helmed Funeral Home in 1980; writer Cohen scribed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (which was directed by Joseph Zito – Bartel’s character is called Professor Zito); Sherry Willis-Burch played dippy Janet in Final Exam; Terri Hawkes later appeared in Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II; Ralph Seymour was in Just Before Dawn; Howard Busgang (the Bee Boy with specs) was Ed in Terror Train.

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