Sorority House Massacre | Varied Celluloid

Sorority House Massacre

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 19 - 2010



The Plot: Beth (Angela O’Neill) is your average college student and she has recently pledged for a spot in a sorority house on campus. When she starts to spend some time with the girls, everything seems just perfect! However, not far away the sadistic killer Bobby (John C. Russell) is literally slamming his head into walls as he anticipates his return home. You see, the psychotic Bobby originally slaughtered his parents in the very same house that Beth’s new sorority has taken over in recent years. Soon enough bobby manages to escape from his captivity and looks to kill every single teen located in this house. Can Beth escape and does she actually hold the secret to stopping this madman within her past?




The Review
I can be a rather hypocritical person, as we all can. You may notice in several of my reviews how I often complain about films being too cliche or predictable, but then there are some others (mostly 80’s slasher movies) that I will commend them for their fun but strident marriage to genre conventions. The only way that I can think to explain this is that my emphasis is on the “fun” aspects of these movies. There are some titles that are stuck in the confines of their genre, but miss out on any of the innovative opportunities that their genre may actually provide for them. Then there are those that are utterly inane due to their genre roots, but still pack in some interesting performances, imaginative kills or play around with these conventions just enough to provide something new or fun. While Sorority House Massacre does provide a few interesting twists and turns along the way, it is unfortunately much more in line with that first type of movie. A slasher title that delivers on everything you could possibly expect, although surprisingly wholesome in comparison to what the sleazy title may lead you to expect.

From the very opening, the synthesized music tells you everything you are going to possibly need to know about Sorority House Massacre. The movie showers the audience with its eighties horror movie feel and vibe. You can expect some amateurish acting, a killer taking out cast members one at a time and of course the inevitable final girl. This time out though, there are a few pieces missing from the equation. For instance, our killer isn’t really hidden as most slasher villains usually are. We know from the start what our killer actually looks like and we know that he is somehow tied to our leading lady, despite their attempts at keeping this fact hidden until the final moments of the film. While I usually applaud any attempts at changing up genre conventions, having the killer so blatantly in the audiences face certainly takes away some of the mystique. He has the appearance of a very average looking young man and may be one of the least intimidating killers in slasher history. John C. Russell who plays our killer Bobby (once again, a name with little intimidation behind it) goes a bit over the top in his role but generally puts in one of the most entertaining performances in the film. His running into the wall repeatedly in the mental hospital certainly brought a smile to my face!

If you watch Sorority House Massacre and you think to yourself “wow, this seems kind of familiar” its probably because so much of it is. Although it could be done as a homage or simply as a form of satire, Sorority House Massacre borrows liberally from other more famous slashers from the eighties. The basic framing of the story itself is entirely a take on John Carpenter’s Halloween, to be sure. We have a crazed killer who has sister issues and heads back to the home where he originally killed his entire family, seem familiar? Another memorable scene comes as our leading lady has a nightmare where she walks upon the sorority house where three young girls, who all wear dresses and are shot in a very haunting manner, speak ominously to Beth. If this isn’t a refernce towards the haunting little girls from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, then I don’t know what is. Not to mention the title of this movie is a blatant takeoff on the Slumber Party Massacre series in the first place. The limited supply of intentional comedy in the movie makes me doubt the possibility that this was all done in satirical terms, and considering Roger Corman helped produce this title (and HATED comedy in his horror movies) I have to imagine that these instances are simply exploitation and made with the intention of capitalizing on these previously successful films.

There is a moment in Sorority House Massacre where our group of teenagers huddle around a television set and proceed to watch a horror movie on screen that happens to feature one of the oldest jump scares in the book: the cat jumping out of a closet. Easily the most hackneyed of horror movie devices there is and I at first commended the movie for being rather meta and making light of horror convention. Then we skip forward no more than five minutes later and we stumble upon an equally as cliche horror convention: a shot that we are supposed to believe features the kill sneaking up on one of the teenagers, but in fact turns out to be one of the other teens simply sneaking up on his girlfriend in an attempt to scare her. They point out how silly these conventions actually are, but then turns around and buys wholeheartedly into genre stereotypes. This seems like a parable for the entire movie. It wants to be smarter than it really is, but ultimately can not overcome its genre film roots and ultimately stumbles upon every pitfall that genre cinema offers to its weaker counterparts.


The Conclusion
There are moments of fun involved here and there. So much so that I wouldn’t mind checking out the sequel at some point, but don’t be confused this is a rather weak piece of slasher film history. If you’re a completest or simply looking for a fun way to waste some time, I would say its definitely worth checking out. For my money though, I have to say this one lacks too much to ever be a contender. There’s very little onscreen violence, the jump scares are predictable and you’ve seen everything this movie does a million times over. I give it a two out of five.



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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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