The House On Sorority Row!

Welcome home, to the Sorority of your nightmares!

 

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1983)

This one starts out on a dark and stormy night in 1963. A pregnant woman named Dorothy Slater goes into birth and suffers complications that threaten her life and the life of her baby. A doctor is called in to perform an emergency cesarean, but the operation is a failure. When Dorothy wakes up and asks to see her baby, it appears to be lifeless.

We then flash forward several years. Dorothy Slater is now the cranky house mother of Theta Pi sorority. The girls of Theta Pi have just graduated and are planning a final blow out beer bash to celebrate. Mrs. Slater of course won’t allow such festivities in her house and goes about her business of being a castrating hag that spoils all of the girls fun. It appears that Mrs. Slater has never fully recovered from the loss of her child and her mind is deteriorating and progressing towards madness. Her doctor fears that a traumatic episode could cause her to snap, and he urges her to check into the hospital for an extended stay. She refuses and returns home where she violently rips up the photos of past graduating classes. She also lurks about in the sorority house attic, which is oddly filled with children’s toys.

Meanwhile, a sorority skank named Vicki meets her boyfriend Rick for a romp on her waterbed. As we have already learned in “Pieces” – the most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time. The fun is sadly short lived, as Mrs. Slater shows up and promptly punctures the bed with her cane. She calls the girl “trash” and tells her that she doesn’t belong in her house. This angers Vicki, and she wakes up the whole house while loudly arguing with Mrs. Slater and vowing revenge. Vicki then decides to pull a little prank on Mrs. Slater that will temporarily put her out of action and leave the girls free to party down.

The prank involves the sorority swimming pool and a gun. Good girl Katey is immediately aware that this is a bad idea, but the other girls are convinced the prank will be a “blast” (get it?). The girls go ahead and set up the house for the party. Mrs. Slater is furious when she sees this and begins one of her patented tirades. She then notices that her trusty cane is missing. Vicki smiles and tells her to look for it by the pool. Mrs. Slater does this and discovers that her cane is on top of an inner tube that is floating in the middle of the pool. Vicki then pulls out the gun and tells Mrs. Slater to take a swim. When she refuses, Vicki fires off a few shots and scares her into jumping into the pool. The harmless fun then turns deadly when Mrs. Slater swings her cane at Vicki and Vicki shoots her in retaliation.

The girls fish Mrs. Slater out of the pool, but the sea hag is dead. Good girl Katey freaks out and wants to call an ambulance, but Vicki and the others talk her out of it. Vicki decides that since Mrs. Slater had no living relatives no one will ever miss her. Unbelievably, the girls then decide to sink the corpse to the bottom of the pool and go on with the party as planned! This is one of those hilarious movie moments where you have to swallow your disbelief and accept that fact that if they did they accepted responsibility for their actions and did the  “right thing,” you wouldn’t have an 80’s slasher flick on your hands.

The party rages. An incredibly shitty band called “Four Out Of Five Doctors” wails away in the background, and a fat fuck in his tighty whiteys jumps into the pool and utters the incredible line “I’m a sea pig!” The girls are horrified…because they think Mrs. Slater’s corpse will be discovered. But later when the pool lights are turned on her body is missing. The girls huddle in the kitchen and begin freaking out. Katey assumes that Mrs. Slater must still be alive, but Vicki believes that if she was alive she would have called the cops. The girls then split up and begin looking for the body. One of the girls named Morgan begins cleaning out a closet and discovers the secret hatch that leads to the attic. The hatch unexpectedly opens and Mrs. Slater’s dead body comes tumbling down on top of Morgan.

The girls try to figure out how her body wound up in the attic, and then decide to hide her again. Morgan storms off to have a drink and settle her nerves and finds a music box on the patio outside of her room. As the music plays and the clown on the music box dances, a killer in a clown suit sneaks up from behind and impales her with Mrs. Slater’s cane. As the party continues to rage, good girl Katey goes looking for Morgan and decides to check the attic. She discovers the toys and a birthday card addressed “to Eric, love Mother.” The other girls hide Mrs. Slater’s corpse in a dumpster and have a wacky run in with the comic relief campus security. While all this hilarity is taking place, the clown killer takes out several of the girls by poking them in the face with Mrs. Slater’s cane and stabbing them violently in the neck.

Meanwhile, good girl Katey gets in touch with Mrs. Slater’s doctor. Dr. Beck races to the sorority house and discovers the girls’ corpses, and also Mrs. Slater’s dead body. Dr. Beck quickly determines that Mrs. Slater is indeed dead, and then reveals to Katey the twisted truth about Mrs. Slater’s child. He also thoughtfully injects her with a mild sedative, which is a logical thing to do when a mad killer in a clown suit is on a rampage. As the dope takes effect, Katey begins tripping out and seeing the bodies of her dead friends. Then the killer shows up to take out the doctor and the other remaining party goers. This leaves good girl Katey alone and helpless in the sorority of nightmares. But when the nightmare ends, the terror begins. Nothing is off limits and nothing can prepare you for what happens when she strikes back! The killer will learn the hard way that sorority sisters are sisters in life, and sisters in death.

“The House On Sorority Row” is about as much of a “textbook” slasher flick as I’ve ever seen, and I actually mean that in a good way. From the blue-tinted prologue to that always annoying final shot where the killer opens his eyes to reveal that he’s not really dead, this flick is full of the cliches that slasher fans have come to know and love. This is not a cheap, uninspired ripoff, this is an example of proper, by the book horror filmmaking. This flick hits all the right notes, and does it with considerable talent and skill. Writer and director Mark Rosman had previously worked with Brian DePalma and he obviously learned a thing or two about helming an effective thriller.

The kills are the best part of the flick, and the bloody head in the toilet is an obvious highlight. This flick has quite a few comic relief moments (SEA PIG!), but mostly plays it straight – which I appreciated. Richard Band’s (“Re-Animator,” “From Beyond”) haunting score is especially excellent and really adds to the tense atmosphere of the film. Incredibly, the score for this film was recorded by the renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra. Not every 80′s slasher flick can boast that! I also really liked the killer’s creepy looking clown outfit. I just wish we could have seen more of him in action. The rarely seen killer that lurks in the sorority house attic was clearly lifted from Bob Clark’s immortal clas-sick “Black Christmas,” but if you’re going to steal you might as well steal from the best.

“The House On Sorority Row” has a well deserved reputation for being one of the more memorable flicks from the glory days of the 80’s slasher craze, and like most other films from that clas-sick era, it earned a passable and totally forgettable big budget remake. The remake (retitled “Sorority Row”) came and went without much notice, but it did bring a small amount of attention back to the original, and helped usher in a few different dvd releases over the years, most of which were quickly snapped up by diehard slasher fans and are now out of print.

Scorpion Entertainment recently released a fantastic 2-disc special edition of THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW as part of their Katarina’s Nightmare Theater series. As with the other entries in this series, viewers have the option of watching the film with or without wraparound host segments starring former WWE skank Katarina Leigh Waters. The bonus features for this special edition release include commentary tracks with director Mark Rosman, and stars Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil, storyboard comparisons, and footage from the never before seen alternate ending. The second disc features brand new interviews with Rosman, Davidson, and McNeil, as well as composer Richard Band and co-producer Igo Kantor. Consider this one Brain Hammer approved in a big way.

 

KEEP THE SEA PIG BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

 

 

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One Response to “The House On Sorority Row!”

  1. Christine Says:

    This is was interesting read Mr. Hammer, thank you for sharing.

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