If I have learned anything from watching slasher movies it is that pranks never ever go right! Your shenanigans might just come back to bite you and possibly even have a body account. The House on Sorority Row is yet another of those life lessons that I think viewers should take to heart. Now that I’m done being silly let’s talk about the movie.
Things kick off in the past as we see a woman giving birth. It is a difficult delivery and there is something wrong with the baby that is only hinted at with some dialogue. Then things fast forward twenty or so years in the future. The graduating seniors of a sorority decide to stay late for one last party before heading off to their adult lives. This is frowned upon by their severe housemother, Mrs. Slater, who wants them out of the house. This leads to some conflict that results in a shredded water bet and a revenge prank involving a gun and some blanks.
You can probably figure out that the girl’s revenge on Mrs. Slater goes awry and she is accidentally shot and killed. Instead of owning up to it… this is a slasher movie… they weigh her body down and toss it in the scummy pool outback and continue with the party that night! That is a mistake as someone decides to start picking the girls and at least one party guest off. But who could it be? Is it Mrs. Slater? Could she have lived? Does it have to do with the opening scene? I’ll never tell so I guess you will just have to watch the movie to find out or go look for spoilers on the web.
|This won't end well!
Don’t do the latter as this is a cool flick that deserves to be seen. The story has all the hallmarks of the slasher subgenre with the prank, mysterious killer, insanely irresponsible characters, and plenty of suspects to keep the audience guessing. The House on Sorority Row is pretty early on in the first wave of these movies so while the formula had been established it hadn’t been run into the ground yet. This one also stands out because they really do keep you guessing until the end as to who the killer is. When you do find out it is a bit of a surprise, but one that is both satisfying and plausible. The script has a lot of subtle hints as to what is going on that you won’t notice the first time thru but will catch on repeated viewings. I’ve watched this flick many times and it holds up well. To me that is the sign that it is a great script and story.
Speaking of the formula I need to note that fans looking for some good kills should be satisfied. I mean this isn’t a Friday the 13th or The Burning gorefest but there are some good gags. We get a cane to the throat, a clawhammer kill, a bashed in forehead, a mangled hand, and some butcher knife mayhem. Total kills add up to a respectable nine, with most happening onscreen. For an early eighties flick not involving Savini I was satisfied with what I got.
A few other observations. We get the required nudity if that sort of thing is important to you. I also noticed some scenes and setup that reminded me a bit of Black Christmas, but I don’t feel like they were lifting anything so that was fine. It is just a nice nod to what came before and is very creepy. There is also a bitching van with a bad ass interior, which as a child of the seventies I very much appreciated.
Overall, I’d say that while not a classic The House on Sorority Row is a solid flick that doesn’t get talked about enough. Track yourself down a copy and check it out. I’d also love to hear what you think about it.
© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer