In what is deemed as somewhat of Halloween rip-off, Sorority House Massacre is Carol Frank's first project as director, and her last to boot. While her credits in the film industry are minuscule, she completed work as an assistant to the director of The Slumber Party Massacre, released in 1982. Frank must've been impressed by the film's output because here we have another Slasher that features sorority girls frantically trying to escape a knife-wielding killer in their night gowns.
Beth, after the death of her aunt, moves in with her sorority girlfriends. She's been suffering from chronic nightmares that seem to hold no relevance to her existence; the elements include a menacing male killer and a mysterious house that she's never visited. Beth's friends attempt to dissect these dream sequences - meanwhile, a dangerous patient escapes from the local mental ward. His goal? To bring death and destruction to the unsuspecting troupe of young women.
Readers should be advised that this film is commonly confused with The House on Sorority Row, with good reason of course. Slasher films can be broken down further and categorized into neat little compartments and in this instance, witnessing college girls get bested by a maniac is practically a sub- genre of its own.
Here we have all of the most common mainstream 80's elements you can think of - and much to your 80's-driven satisfaction, wrapped up in a video montage that features the girls trying on clothes. While the music plays on, almost as if it was ripped straight from a sitcom of 25 years ago, they model brightly-colored dresses, outfitted with shoulder pads, complimented a step further with pictures of Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister on the wall. It's probably the most cheesy and out-of- place montage you'll ever see in a horror film...not only is it ridiculous but the editing for this particular sequence is absolutely shocking in how pitifully it's done - like watching an episode of Charles in Charge while huffing a cheap can of Krylon.
This film desperately wants you to love it, and I have to admit, it does have its charm. I was never really one to praise a film for being charming on account of how bad it is, however; lines of dialog within are too horrid to recount. The act of being thorough with reality isn't really a priority of Sorority House Massacre especially if you consider a scene in which an institution orderly enters the room of the uncontrollable maniac with headphones on. He is swiftly dispatched of. Why, if this man was filled with rage and anger, would they not warn the rest of the staff? Why would another employee carelessly stroll into his quarters woefully unprepared? What nonsense.
The reason that Sorority House Massacre is compared to Halloween is mainly because of the story - we have a young woman who has an odd connection to the male killer - a killer who's been locked away in a facility for 15 years. His weapon of choice is a knife and his propensity to outlive mortal wounds is reminiscent of Michael Myers. People make the mistake here, though, in just assuming that the director wanted the madman to be indestructible; I don't think that's the case. I wouldn't be surprised if this title was influenced by the John Carpenter classic, but I can't say it's a rip-off...it's too convenient. It's worth noting that this film spawned two sequels - Sorority House Massacre 2 and Hard to Die, both released in 1990. I won't be covering these follow-up films in this review, however, so you can exhale with relief.
So...what's the word, hoss? Should you strut down to your local video store, rummage through the Netflix archives, or scan torrent banks to scout this movie out? If you care to take note of this film's release, 1986, you should know what to expect in terms of a Slasher film. Aside from the more well-known titles that offered a refreshing take, flicks this late in game regurgitated old ideas. If you've been on a long journey to complete the quest of tracking down every 80's Slasher, like I have, you might want to add this one to the list. It's not original and it's only entertaining in the way of it being humorously bad; certainly not a serious investment but one worth a look for a completest.