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Catching up with some Corman produced 80s horror, I came to realize just how ahead of his time legendary producer Roger Corman was in giving women a voice in horror as filmmakers and not just final girls!…

Roger Corman is legendary for his exploitation flicks and while some may debate the involvement of women in those films as objects of T&A elements and/or final girls in his horror flicks, they may not be aware that Corman was also boundary breaking in giving women opportunities as filmmakers behind the camera, which, especially in the horror genre and at the time…the 80s…was practically unheard of.

Today women have been showing their voice in the horror genre behind the cameras more than ever. With the starkly original works of the Soska Sisters and their American Mary or See No Evil 2, taking the horror world by storm…along with filmmakers like Jennifer (The Babadook) Kent and Leigh (Honeymoon) Janiak…that voice is louder than ever. The boundaries are starting to come down finally in a very male dominated genre and it’s a blessing to horror movie fans to be getting the works and perspectives of a whole new generation of female filmmakers, previously unheard from…but as these talents tear down the walls, is it possible there were already cracks there from an earlier time?

Three decades before this refreshing opening of doors, those doors were unlocked partially by a man that some may unfairly claim made his money exploiting women in movies, Roger Corman. During the 80s, women were just starting to make waves as filmmakers, let alone in the horror genre and Roger Corman not only produced numerous horror flicks with women writing and/or directing, but gave start to the careers of some renown producers too, like Gale Anne Hurd and his own wife, Julie Corman as well!

Corman, under his New World Pictures banner, produced Humanoids from The Deep with Barabara Peeters at the helm in 1981 and a year later gave the directing reigns to Amy Holden Jones on the slasher Slumber Party Massacre, which was also written by Rita Mae Brown. While the 1983 Suburbia, was not a horror flick, Corman gave new filmmaker Penelope (Wayne’s World) Spheeris a chance, producing her unflinching vision of a group of outcast punk rockers. It is now considered a cult classic and she a very successful filmmaker. After selling New World and starting Concorde Pictures, this trend continued. Sorority House Massacre was written and directed by Carol Frank and between 1987 and 1990 there were second and third installments of the Slumber Party Massacre series, helmed by Deborah Brock and Sally Mattison respectively. Corman even gave one of his regular actresses a chance behind the camera. Kat Shea (Barbarian Queen) co-wrote and directed Stripped To Kill for Corman in 1987 after starring in a few of his productions and doing some second unit work and writing for the legendary producer. She made a few more films for Concorde and Corman afterwards, including the immensely underrated vampire romance Dance Of The Damned in 1987. Shea…then Shea-Rubin…went on to a prolific career as a writer/director after striking out on her own. I personally find her to be a highly underrated filmmaker, whose most well-know film is probably the sexy thriller Poison Ivy with Drew Barrymore.

Corman was not the only one shaking the boundaries that are now finally coming down. John Carpenter stood by the late Debra Hill as his producer and she produced a number of his most classic films with him, including the horror masterpiece Halloween and that was only the beginning for this now legendary producer. Kathryn Bigelow burst on the scene with the vampire classic Near Dark in 1987 as did Mary Lambert in 1989 with the Stephen King adaptation, Pet Semetery. Rachel Talalay killed Freddy Krueger in Freddy’s Dead in 1991 and if not for the vision of Mary Harron, we wouldn’t have the modern classic American Psycho, which also showed us what a relatively unknown Christian Bale could do in front of the camera. Corman was not solely responsible, but certainly led the way during the 80s giving women a voice in horror behind the camera as well as in front of it…long before today’s generation of female horror filmmakers are making their presence known.

So, we are finally getting to see women make a strong mark as filmmakers in the horror genre. Their emergence was a long time coming, but there were pioneers that paved the way. While Roger Corman was not the only producer to give female filmmakers a chance on the creative end of the horror genre…and there were a handful of female directed horrors before the 80s, too…he did do it at a time where it was practically unheard of and he did it often. Do today’s filmmakers like Jen and Sylvia Soska have Roger Corman to thank for putting cracks in the barriers that they are now tearing down with their unique and talented visions as women in horror?…I’ll let you decide that for yourselves!

-MonsterZero NJ




now playing

 double feature_SHM_1-2


Watched both these flicks recently and for the first time and thought they’d made a good double bill…for obvious reasons!



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 completest like me.

 -MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 knives!

sorority house rating





sorority house massacre 2



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) at the helm. 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 with 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.

 -MonsterZero NJ

3 knives.

malevolence rating