|Review||The House on Sorority Row (1983)||Director||Mark Rosman|
|Writers||Mark Rosman and Bobby Fine (additional dialogue)|
|Cast||Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward, Robin Meloy, Harley Jane Kozak, Jodi Draigie, Ellen Dorsher, Lois Kelso Hunt and Christopher Lawrence|
“He must’ve seen it all from the attic window” – Dr. Beck
Mrs. Slater (Hunt) has major trouble in the delivery room and Dr. Beck (Lawrence) only watches in disgust as her offspring is born.
Fast forward some twenty years later and a group of sorority girls want to host a big party following their graduation. The House-Mother, Mrs. Slater, is anything but pleased and makes her anger known by slashing Vicki’s (Davidson) waterbed and calling her all sorts of names. Vicki gets her friends to play a prank on Mrs. Slater which goes terribly wrong when the girls accidentally kill her.
Forced to go through with the party to avoid being suspicious; the girls conceal the body and intend on disposing of it later in the night. Once the party starts the girls disappear one by one and a killer is on the loose.
“The House on Sorority Row” is slowly becoming one of my all-time favourite slashers in the “best of the rest” category. It only gets better with repeat viewings and the atmosphere combined with a mixture of gratuitous kills alongside some that are bloodless but big on the build-up; this film gets most things completely right. The mystery may not win any awards and most will have figured out the twist (if you can call it a twist) but the basic execution of the gruesome material is handled with such skill that any shortcomings in the script department can be easily forgiven.
The script very well sets up the night of terror while also giving audiences a bunch of fairly believable characters who make mostly sound decisions (given their situation) without it working in their favour. Once the girls enter the hopeless situation of having to throw a party knowing they killed their House Mother their fears are understandable and well played out. Davidson, in particular, makes an impression as the leader of the bunch and the always lovely Kozak is very good as well. Hunt is memorable as Mrs. Slater though not necessarily very good and Lawrence is OK as Dr. Beck. Overall this is a good ensamble for a slasher effort and above average in quality.
This was director Rosman’s debut feature and the film is quite stylish visually speaking. There’s some quality crew on hand here that all pitch together to make sure “The House on Sorority Row” looks good and polished with nice art decoration and a fine musical score. It’s influences range from obvious visual references to “Black Christmas” (1974) and “The Changeling” (1979) to musical motifs reminiscent of “The Amityville Horror” (1979) and they pay homage sincerely and are a treat for film buffs. It also borrows some from “Halloween” (1978), obviously, and while the slasher setting was already wearing out it’s welcome in 1983 the film feels anything but clichéd in the stalk and slash scenes which are fairly imaginative without maybe being truly original. Still; what it does it does well (apart from one fake looking prosthetic kill – you’ll know it when you see it).
But it’s not without it’s cheese factor and the biggest one here comes courtesy of the super-band “4 Out of 5 Doctors” that plays original music during the party which is pure 80’s pop/soft rock with cringeworthy lyrics. If there’s anything that completely identifies “The House on Sorority Row” as an 80’s film it’s that band.
Overall “The House on Sorority Row” is a Class A slasher; a must for fans and a good starting point for those that want to delve into the category “Best of the rest” in slasher territory.