The House on Sorority Row: 25th Anniversary Edition
by Jef Burnham
Coming to DVD from Liberation Entertainment on January 12th, 2010.
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Yes, this 1983 slasher flick was the inspiration for last year’s Sorority Row, and that fact may deter many folk from sitting down with The House on Sorority Row. But if you’re a fan of B-horror movies, especially those of the sorority and slumber party variety, know that the 2009 version took a lot of liberties (as admittedly espied from a single viewing of the remake’s trailer) and so you might want to check out this strange little movie in its 25th Anniversary Edition DVD (although technically its 25th anniversary was 2 years ago, but it’s their DVD so they can call it what they want), which boasts a high quality transfer from a “recently discovered pristine 35mm print” and commentary by writer/director Marc Rosman and stars Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil.
The story centers on a group of girls graduating college, but before they leave their sorority, they throw one final bash, prompting a confrontation with their house mother who winds up dead. They were sure she was lifeless when they dropped her into the pool, but the girls begin to get surreptitiously bumped off one-by-one by a killer using the house mother’s distinctive cane.
Pretty standard stuff, really, and I knew who the killer would be long before anyone was actually murdered. But what makes the film enjoyable are a slew of hilariously bizarre performances from supporting and starring cast alike. The aforementioned stars are fine in their roles, especially McNeil, who is really the only affable person in the film, but the rest of the film is filled with forced, wooden deliveries and the weirdest-looking collection of male actors I’ve ever seen in one film. These guys pop up out of nowhere for one or two unfunny one-liners and disappear forever to make way for other unattractive non-actors.
It’s not a good movie by any stretch, and as I learned from the alternate ending feature and the commentary, this was, at least in some part, due to the distributor’s requirements of Rosman, who’s not really a bad filmmaker. I was quite fond of his 1994 movie, Evolver, when I was younger. For all its flaws, The House on Sorority Row is still worth a watch if you’ve a mind for cheesy 80’s horror movies.
Apart from the aforementioned commentary and alternate ending feature, special features on this disc include storyboard comparisons and the original theatrical trailer.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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