Tag Archives: sorority

July Face-off: ‘Comedy’ porno slasher vs. ‘comedy’ porno slasher

Long ago, before I’d polluted my delicate mindset with the body count details of 496 slasher films, I was watching Caroline in the City, remember that? There was a scene I’ve always remembered where Caroline’s maneater gal-pal went to the video store where she encountered Matthew Perry in his Chandler persona. He made a big deal out of the store not having The Piano and said to her, as some kinda lame line, that he didn’t like all the guy movies with sex and violence and then queried maneater girl as to what she was renting. ‘Sorority House Massacre II,’ he reads and the scene ends in some other way I’ve now forgotten.

I always thought they’d made up that movie title. But no, when I got my first film almanac, there it was in print, together with its entirely unrelated predecessor. That book was a 1997 guide to video (them were the days) and twelve years have elapsed between the realisation that the film is, in fact, real and me seeing it.

CONTESTANT ONE

shm2

1 Stars  1990/77m

“It’s cleavage vs. cleavers and the result is Delta Delta Deadly!”

A.k.a. Night Frenzy; Nighty Nightmare

Director: Jim Wynorski / Writers: James B. Rogers & Bob Sheridan / Cast: Robyn Harris, Melissa Moore, Stacia Zhivago, Michelle Verran, Dana Bentley, Jurgen Baum, Karen Chorak, Bridget Carney, Peter Spellos.

Body Count: 5

Dire-logue: “Oh my God, our clothes! They’re still upstairs!”


Five “teenage” girls purchase ‘the old Hockstatter place’ for their new sorority house and find out that the patriarch of the family murdered his wife and daughters there, which we are shown through flashbacks, which are actually murder sequences from The Slumber Party Massacre! The girls disrobe, have showers, we see all of them naked and then, one ill-advised seance later, one of them is possessed by the spirit of Clive Hockstatter and begins hooking the others to death. The girls, in their panic, believe the killer to be freaky neighbour Orville Ketchum, who intercedes, takes a lot of damage from knives, bullets and what have you but still survives.

CONTESTANT TWO

hardtodie21 Stars  1990/77m

A.k.a. Tower of Terror

Director: Jim Wynorski / Writers: Mark McGee & James B. Rogers / Cast: Robyn Harris, Lindsay Taylor, Debra Dare, Melissa Moore, Bridget Carney, Peter Spellos, Forrest J. Ackerman, Don Key.

Body Count: 7

Dire-logue: “I just wanna get my clothes on and get the hell out of here!”


Five young agency employees are sent to take inventory of Acme Lingerie’s stock in an office tower. When a parcel containing a strange box is mistakenly delivered to them, it unleashes the Hockstatter spirit, which takes control of one of them and the inevitable occurs. The girls find an arsenal of firearms in the tower and begin shooting the place up. In their panic, they believe the killer to be freaky janitor Orville Ketchum, who takes a lot of damage from crossfire but still survives.

OK, so how on earth do you decide which is the better film out of two films that are pretty much photocopies of one another, but, you know, when someone copies the copy over again it looks worse and worse… Arguably, there’s not much wrong with the production values in either. As they hail from the Roger Corman library, both take footage from The Slumber Party Massacre for their own foul use and have bad intercut footage of grainy lightning.

Quite who these films are aimed at is a mystery: in both, virtually all female characters appear – at the very least – topless, with gratuitous shower scenes and odd squidgy-rubber sound effects as they soap themselves. Nudity and slasher flicks are like conjoined twins and that’s fine so long as the filmmakers remember they’re supposed to be producing a horror film and don’t keep forcing the nude scenes, they should appear incidental like in the good ol’ days. 77 minutes of tits, rubbish gore effects and fucking Orville Ketchum (…it just isn’t funny) makes for a tedious experience in both cases. I think Sorority might have been slightly more tolerable and it was nice to see northern lass Harris as the final girl (if one could call her character such) in both films, still, both were crap I never want to have to sit through again.

WINNER: NEITHER!

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

houseonsororityrowTHE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

3.5 Stars  1982/18/88m

A.k.a. House of Evil (UK video)

Director/Writer: Mark Rosman / Cast: Kathryn McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Lois Kelso Hunt, Christopher Lawrence, Harley Kozak, Janis Zido, Robin Meloy, Jodi Draigie, Ellen Dorsher.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Can’t you find another place to fuck?”


Brian DePalma’s former assistant wrote and directed this predicament slasher flick, which boasts a decent score and impressive visuals and has remained criminally underrated long enough for somebody to snap up the rights for the forthcoming 2009 remake, titled just Sorority Row.

hsr1Things begin in the misty blueness of 1961, June 19th to be exact, and the birth of a child in a house. Looks and sounds painful. Twenty-one years later, the house – now the sorority of the title – is being evacuated by seven graduating sisters; Liz, Stevie, Katherine, ditzy Morgan, straight-talkin’ Diane, little girl-like Jeanie and rich bitch Vicki. Their miserable housemother, Mrs Slater, wants them out ASAP but they need to stick around to throw a graduation party…

Nothing really ever happens on June 19th – it’s not famous for anything. I know this well as it’s my birthday too! Finally somebody made a slasher flick out of it!

hse2A watery altercation between Slater and Vicki makes the girl mad enough to plot a revenge prank to really sock it to the old beeyatch. Naturally, the prank goes askew and Mrs Slater is shot dead. The girls panic, fight, scream, cry and are eventually forced to hide the body in the unused pool when all the stuff for their party arrives. Guilt and paranoia take over as the sisters attempt to keep up their facade of all being well while the party rages on… But somebody is outside and has Mrs Slater’s iron cane and wants to insert it into those responsible for her untimely death – or is it Mrs S herself?

hsr3Well, no… We knew that really, didn’t we? But the girls don’t and they begin to fall victim to the cane-toting madman, her mentally unstable son, Eric, all the time remaining out of sight. Their party continues in the background when they come to realise Mrs Slater’s body has gone walkabout and they split to try to find her, find her, and then try to get rid of her again, electing to bury her beneath an open grave in a handy nearby cemetery…

hsr4Smart girl Katherine steps up as the reluctant heroine who wanted to call an ambulance right from the start. While Vicki leads the naive ones around trying to cover up their crime, Katherine investigates the mysterious room in the attic, avoids her dorky date and is the first to second guess the disappearances of her friends. Meanwhile, the killings continue, all carried out with the iron cane but largely bloodless and possibly cut down. Rosman reportedly didn’t want much on screen gore in the film and it doesn’t really require much to remain effective.

hsr5Things begin to wrap up with a crazy scientist, Katherine getting doped up, an eerie clown and lots of hallucinations. Rosman has gone for an almost surreal approach to his tale; from the unbelievable reaction the majority of girls have to the accident to their demises, some of which feature dizzying visuals of the pulsing corridor in the sorority house as Jeanie, dressed up like a six-year-old with ribbons in her hair, runs and stumbles before her savage death. At least half of the girls poll sympathy and it’s hard to watch them tortured, something that probably won’t be an issue in the remake, but this forms the essence of the horror so is just about forgivable.

hsr6It’s rare to see a slasher film so in touch with its medium that there’s obvious effort in making it look stunning, taking what worked in its ancestors and recycling it to better visual effect. There are flaws but not many and hopefully the film will be remastered and given the special edition treatment once the remake surfaces.

Ugh...get the plunger, Jeanie's blocked the toilet again

Ugh…get the plunger, Jeanie’s blocked the toilet again

HELL NIGHT

hellnight HELL NIGHT

4 Stars  1981/18/102m

“Pray for day.”

Director: Tom DeSimone / Writer: Randy Feldman / Cast: Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Kevin Brophy, Suki Goodwin, Jenny Neumann, Jimmy Sturtevant.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “If you weren’t screamin’…and we weren’t screamin’…then somebody’s trying to mind-fuck us.”


In the cynical we-know-everything days of 2009, a film with a premise so simplistic as Hell Night is likely to be casually dismissed as ancient crap. It’s long and slow with a low body count – why bother? Because it’s one of the best slasher films going.

The Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority are initiating four new pledges on their annual ‘Hell Night’. The costume party is over, we’ve met the primary cast of just seven young scholars, and we’re off to the unloved grounds of Garth Manor, where the Garth patriarch once slaughtered his entire family, save for ‘gorked out’ Andrew, who is said to still dwell within the creepy old mansion.

hn-gate-house

Jeff, Denise, Seth and Marti are sequestered to the venue and instructed to stay in the house until dawn, when they will be let out. Once left alone by the upperclassmen, the quartet briefly explore and then pair off; Seth and Denise engage in overlong foreplay while Jeff and Marti go heart to heart and discuss their lives, the class system and various other things.

Outside, three of the senior collegiates – May, weasely Scott, and uber-prankster Peter – return to try and scare them with a range of pre-organised tricks. Ghosts appear, death-screams echo down the halls and a real killer begins stalking and slaying all those who intrude on his property! Andrew Garth lives! A few killings in, the murders are discovered and Seth manages to climb his way to freedom in a bid to summon help while Jeff and Marti look for a missing Denise and uncover the extent of the nightmare…

hn4a

Like the gothic candles that give a creepy glow to the setting, Hell Night is a real slow-burn affair. It’s nearly half an hour before the first killing and afterwards they’re spaced out to maximum tense-effect but it’s seldom boring. In the attention-deficit days we now live in, there’s no way something so relaxedly paced would ring the box office bell, but that’s the beauty of a film like Hell Night. In spite of being helmed by a noted porno director, there’s no nudity and very restrained bloodshed.

hn7aThe appeal is in the straight-forward telling of it all. It’s got classic creaky haunted house origins, aided no end by the period costumes worn by the characters, the candelabras and cobwebs, Nosferatu-influenced creeping shadows, all engineered into a (then) modern slasher narrative. Characters are also well drawn given that the entire thing is set on one night; Linda Blair, all grown up from playing Regan MacNeil, makes for an affable heroine in Marti, a mechanically gifted student. Her three companions range from misunderstood nice guy (Jeff), to surfer dude (Seth) and comical British partygirl (Denise), while the trio of pranksters have less to do. Why the two main guys are Jeff n’ Seth is something we’ll never know I guess…

hn8a

The emphasis on atmosphere is a strong selling point here; the house is creepy and the story just offbeat enough to be unsettling. “This was supposed to be a joke,” crows Marti when she and Jeff find time to reflect on the night’s events. All things considered, definitely not a film for all to enjoy. It has that nostalgic ‘this scared me as a kid’ quality going for it, something we’re unlikely to experience again. Karen Carpenter sang ‘Tryin’ To Get That Feeling Again’, Hell Night still maintains a big part of ‘that’ feeling.

hn9a

The bad news: a PG-13 remake, almost certainly similar to the dismal Prom Night redux, is due in 2010. Don’t expect any nostalgia there.

hn-roof-jeff

Blurbs-of-interest: surprisingly, Blair never made another slasher film but Barton played Doug in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter; Jenny Neumann had already played the lead in Aussie theatre stalker StageFright. Several of the producers worked on other slasher flicks, including Halloween, and Chuck Russell directed A Nightmare On Elm Street 3.

FATAL PULSE

FATAL PULSE

1 Stars  1988/88m

“Who is the killer behind the sadistic and horrific murders of beautiful young coeds…and when will this madness end?”

Director: Anthony J. Christopher / Writer: James Hundhausen / Cast: Michelle McCormick, Ken Roberts, Joe Phelan, Alex Courtney, Cindra Hodgdon, Steven Henry, Blair Karsch, Sky Nicholas, Maureen O’Hanlon, Kitty.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “Don’t worry, almost nothing can go wrong.”


Trouble with the lexicon of late-80s made for video slasher films, even those that felt the need to remind you they were ‘full length feature films’ on the box, was that the introduction of made-for-video pictures opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of crap. Almost literal crap.

Fatal Pulse - not to be confused with the cheesy, but far superior Fatal Games - is a rubbish arse-wipe of a film in which the dimwitted residents of the Alpha Omega Kappa sorority house are being strangled, electrocuted, drowned and slashed by vinyl records (!) by an anonymous black-gloved killer, who could be the lead girl’s on-off boyfriend, his dumbass buddy, or her nasty ex. But we know it isn’t really. The real killer’s identity is so obvious the character may as well have been holding a decapitated head when he first appears.

It’s one of those scripts where the author hasn’t even tried. If someone was murdered in the room next door to me, I’d move out. These girls, they stick around, told nothing will happen to them (see Dire-logue) and are all presented as witless morons and nasty bitches who are utterly defenceless, cowering pathetically when the maniac leans in for the kill, slashing their bras open first of course! One girl encounters the psycho on a suburban street during daylight hours. Instead of running to a house, she decides an abandoned warehouse is the best means of escape!

If you want to see the film that makes Sorority House Massacre look like Black Christmas then Fatal Pulse is for you! Everyone else is advised to substitute the tape for a doorstop or toilet roll.

1 3 4 5