Watched both these flicks recently and for the first time and thought they’d made a good double bill…for obvious reasons!
SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE (1986)
Writer/director Carol Frank has some serious Halloween envy in this 80s slasher. The story has a deranged killer (John C. Russell) escaping from a mental institution and going back to the house where he slaughtered his family 14 years ago. The house is now a sorority and he focuses his hunt on Beth (Angela O’Neill) who is the sister he failed to get the first time. Sorority members and their male guests drop like flies as he carves his way toward his sibling…sound familiar? (Though we didn’t find out Laurie Strode was Michael’s sister till Halloween II)
Despite director Frank trying real hard to catch the Halloween vibe with Carpenter-ish tracking shots and POV angles, it’s not nearly as successful, especially as it was shot in a TV friendly format…this was now the direct to video age. She doesn’t generate much suspense as her story is far too familiar and the heavy 80s atmosphere adds a cheese factor which only helps for the wrong reasons. The cast are all bland including lead O’Neill and killer “Bobby” generates very little threat or fear. His escape from the mental institute is also laughably too easy. The killings are routine bloody stabbings and even Jamie Lee Curtis was smart enough to run out of the house when threatened. Still there is a nostalgic entertainment factor here and the cheesiness entertains to a degree though, for all the wrong reasons…but, entertainment is entertainment and with my pint glass at my side, I can’t say I had a bad time with this.
Despite not achieving her high aspirations, Carol Frank’s film does pass the time and supply some grins and giggles. It was also groundbreaking for a woman to write and direct horror at this time and as the film comes from Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures, it’s no surprise. Corman was hiring female filmmakers to do horror decades before trendsetters like The Soska Sisters showed up. Mildly entertaining for all the wrong reasons so, it’s worth a look especially if you’re an 80s horror completist like me.
2 and 1/2 knives!
SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II (1990)
Sequel isn’t connected to the first film other than taking place in a sorority house that was the scene of a mass murder years before. This time a group of five hot foxes buy the former murder site cheap and plan to turn it into a sorority house. They spend the night in the empty house and during a drunken seance, they mistakenly summon the spirit of the killer, Clive Hokstedter, who proceeds to gruesomely continue his work.
This installment has no less than three writers credited but, does have underrated B-movie director Jim Wynorski (The Return Of Swamp Thing, Chopping Mall). Wynorski knows exactly what his material is and just has fun with it, as with all his cheesy low budget delights. The film is all T & A and spilled blood as our nubile sorority sisters all look like playboy bunnies and are frequently taking their clothes off and not wearing much when their clothes are on. There is little or no suspense but, there is a lot of fun as our ladies are stalked by the possessed individual whose identity is kept a secret until the end. The film may not win any awards but, it is very entertaining due to Wynorski’s mix of comic book and exploitation styles and it does what a cheesy late 80s exploitation slasher should do, shower us in blood, boobs and giggles. It’s bad on purpose and Wynorski is one of the few directors that can do entertainingly bad on purpose and do it well…normally, that has to be a happy accident. Corman was smart to keep him in his stables…and he is still there to this day.
A fun movie in it’s cheesy badness and while it is far less serious than it predecessor, it is a lot more entertaining. Definitely worth a look, especially if you are a fan of Wynorski’s cheesy style. Stars hotties Gail Harris, Melissa Moore, Stacia Zhivago, Barbii and Dana Bentley. Also features Peter Spellos as the creepy neighbor, Orville Ketchum, who may…or may not…be host to Hokstedter’s homicidal spirit.