Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Who’ll survive the final exam?

A killer escapes from a psychiatric ward and returns to the home where he killed his family years earlier. The home is now a sorority house filled with teenage girls and the killer wants to finish off the job of killing his family – by slaughtering his sister who is one of the girls.

 

Halloween anyone? Alarm bells should be ringing in your head at the sound of that plot. And if not then the title alone should send your imagination going into overdrive. A sorority house full of teenage girls and there’s a psycho on the loose….in an 80s slasher….surely a recipe for exploitation cheese at it’s finest. Well don’t let the title fool you into thinking that, Sorority House Massacre is nowhere near as sleazy as its title would suggest, which is to the detriment of the film.

Sorority House Massacre is a low brow attempt to muscle in on the slasher craze of the 80s but whereas a lot of films in this era went for goofy charm, lashings of gore and ample nudity, this one plays it straight – a little too straight and serious. Considering that director Carol Frank was an assistant on one of the 80s more fondly-remembered slashers, Slumber Party Massacre, it’s a shame to see that none of the charm or appeal from that one has been transferred over. I can appreciate that the people who made this wanted to go for mood over mayhem but they haven’t the faintest clue about how to achieve that.

Very little happens for the first three quarters of the film and then most of the kills are crammed into the final quarter as the film drifts into the more traditional slasher territory we expected from the get-go. For the rest of the film, we’re given plenty of uninteresting scenes of girls talking, girls dressing up in each other’s clothes, some more girls talking and then some guys talking to the girls. Boredom is the only killer here, not some crazed psychopath.

When the psycho finally turns up at the house, the ‘massacre’ of the title is nothing more than a below-average couple of quick kills, all done with the same pitiful knife. There is very little gore and there is no creativity to the kills whatsoever – this guy is as boring and unimaginative as the film. ‘Massacre’ this is not. There’s a decent body count (just under ten I believe) but you’ll be hard pressed to remember anything about the kills. He does start off as some normal human but as the film progresses and he starts to receive some damage from his actions, he turns into a Jason Vorhees-esque killer who is seemingly indestructible and can dive through windows on the top floor of houses without even so much as a scratch. The fact that he’s on-screen a lot kind of diminishes any sort of mystery or tension the film could have had by keeping him confined to the background. We know what he looks like now and we know that he’s not the most intimidating of characters. This is despite the film continuing to hammer home Beth, his sister, having dream sequences about a secret past. We know already, just get on with it.

As I’ve already said, the kills are uninspired and there’s little in the way of that other exploitation staple – the nudity. With a sleaze-ridden title like this, there’s no way that the female cast should have remained clothed. Sorry to sound like a lecherous fan boy but the film skimps on the two key elements that the 80s slashers were notorious for. If the film had managed to nail the atmosphere, throw in some scares and keep things running smoothly until the end, then I’d be able to let this go. But when a film is this dull, plodding, badly acted and generally tough to sit through, then these small mercies would have gone a long way to livening things up. Some fast food for the eyes before the main serving was dished out would have gone a long way.

 

I was hoping for some exploitation slasher escapism like Slumber Party Massacre but instead got a really lame waste of time. Don’t be fooled by the box art and promise of some T&A, gore and groovy death scenes – Sorority House Massacre has very little of all three and seems to be wasted potential more than outright terrible film making.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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