The House on Sorority Row (1983)

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The House on Sorority Row
directed by Mark Rosman
starring Kate McNeil, Lois Kelso Hunt, Eileen Davidson

A slasher from 1983 that has a main cast of college-aged girls. Yeah, this movie is going exactly where you expect it to. The House on Sorority Row is a pretty generic slasher, lacking ambition certainly, but it’s passable for what its intended to be. A group of sorority sisters attempt a prank on their old, stringent house mother. The prank goes fatally wrong and the sisters attempt to hide the body of the mother in the pool. As they try to play it cool and host their party, the body of the mother goes missing and sure enough, the bodies start to pile up. The House on Sorority Row has those kind of horror characters that can just baffle you. Despite their best efforts to avoid trouble, the group of girls in this movie pretty much compile a list of bad decisions to make. I know they’re college-aged girls in a horror movie, but it really seems like they were trying to think of the worst ways to dispose of a body. Other classic pleas to be killed are featured, such as the vintage: “We need to use the circuit breaker in the basement… Things have been pretty intense tonight, so someone should go down there alone.”

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The light backstory provided early on in the movie is flimsy, and not really effective at really building up anything interesting. Overall, the arc of the story was pretty obvious from the beginning and it kind of progressed a little too slow for me. It also felt that maybe the movie got rid of too many characters too quickly, as the conclusion with the final survivor was just too long. While the film is pretty bland to look at, there is a rather interesting scene near the conclusion that reminded me of 1962’s Carnival of Souls. It’s a slightly-psychedelic scene with ghostly visions appearing and disappearing and is easily the most interesting part of the movie. It’s almost out of place from the rest of the movie, but certainly a positive exception.

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You can do a whole lot worse than The House on Sorority Row, but of course you can do a whole lot better. It’s a pretty accurate example of an average slasher. There really isn’t a strong atmosphere, and all of the scare attempts are simple, cheap jump scares. While it’s not completely tame, there isn’t too much gore being thrown around, and really only one scene has the potential for any shock value (it almost looked like all the makeup budget went to one specific shot). The movie also features the most over-cliched 80s house band, which is definitely a retro delight. You can skip this one or throw it into a marathon if you’re desperate. It’s probably fun to have a group of people watching to yell out some callbacks, but it’s otherwise pretty average.

5.0

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