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Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 188: Sorority House Massacre

Sorority House Massacre
Phi Beta Whoa, Mama

If you only watched horror movies from the 80's, you'd think serial killers were terrorizing sexy girls at every turn. You would think there were horrible mass murders going on in every location imaginable. The 80's were practically a massacre jamboree. Even when “Massacre” wasn't in the title, like Sleepaway Camp for example, you still knew what it was. Crazed killer slashing his way through a bunch of supporting cast members trying to get to one specific character. Despite this cliché, many of these movies were and are still fun to watch. Of course, those are more well-known “Massacre” movies. How about one that sounds like it would fit right in, but you may not have seen.

Sorority House Massacre is a 1986 slasher starring Angela O'Neil as Beth, a young college girl who just joined a sorority. When she moves in to the sorority house, she begins to have strange, realistic dreams involving murder inside the house. She is unaware that as a child, her brother Bobby (John C. Russell, killed their family inside the very same house and was committed to a mental institution. Her sorority sisters Linda, Sara, and Tracy try to determine what the dreams mean while the rest of the house occupants go on a trip. Meanwhile, Bobby has snapped out of his mental stupor and escapes the institution. The girls are joined by a few boys, each one fitting an 80's cliché. Beth's dreams intensify, leaving her clues to what happened when she was a child. Through her dreams, she is able to find the knife Bobby used to kill her family. Bobby arrives at the house, looking to finish his business and kill Beth. He terrorizes the house, stabbing and killing the boys and most of the kills. Will Beth be able to stop him?

And will she still look like Tom Cruise?

If it feels like I skipped over a lot of story or missed something, I didn't. The movie is only about an hour and fifteen minutes long and there really is no violence until about 25 minutes left. You would think that by having a shorter movie, they'd get to the killing quicker, but no, they take their sweet time telling a story that we've all seen before in far better movies. It's not like they filled in that time with important dialogue or foreshadowing. We're “treated” to a scene where the girls try on different horrendous 80's clothes set to wailing sitcom saxophone. I guess they needed an excuse to show the girls topless, but come on, trying on clothes? That does not make for good movie watching. The story and certain scenes are very similar to Halloween. Shooting from the killer's perspective, never really seeing his face, killing as a child and going to a mental institution. Even the knife is similar. Unintentional laughs insure when Bobby walks into a hardware store and, instead of grabbing a mask like Michael Myers, he just smashes a glass case with his hand and steals a knife. They weren't exactly going for subtlety or atmosphere.

The movie tries to go a different route with the dream sequences, but they are confusing and not put together well. It is difficult to tell what is going on between dream and reality, but not in the good, crazy “whoa that was just a dream” way. It's more like “What the hell is going on. Oh, it's a dream. So?” Many scenes are too dark and the direction is too shoddy to always follow what is happening. The acting is passable, which is actually a compliment considering that the actors did not have much to work with in terms of story or dialogue. The wacky dreams bring to mind Slumber Party Massacre II, which came out not too long after Sorority House Massacre. I don't know, maybe I just have “S-word noun Massacre” movies on the brain. It actually took some effort not to type Slumber Party Massacre instead of Sorority House Massacre while writing this review.

 How can 3 sorority girls look so unsexy?

The 70's and 80's were a great time for slasher flicks. Somewhere towards the middle of the 1980's, though, the movies became lazy, repetitive, and cliched. Sorority House Massacre falls into all three of those descriptions as the story is too similar to Halloween. We've seen this type of movie many times before and when you don't do anything special to make it stand out, it's not going to end well. It takes too long to get to the slashing and there is a serious lack of blood and gore. There are no creative kills and a lack of suspense. The dream sequences were an attempt at creativity, but they failed to elicit any real depth or emotion. There is a good reason why the majority of people haven't seen or even heard of Sorority House Massacre.


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