The Film (1.5/5)
Horror seems to become popular in waves. Every decade or so some movie seemingly reinvents the wheel of what is scary for the time. This decade for example has seen the rise of Saw inspired “torture porn,” and Americanized versions of foreign (especially Japanese) horror films. In the 90's it was the pseudo-giallo Scream rip offs, and in the 80's it was the slasher film.
The slasher genre started out with a bunch of really good, really cool films like Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve and Bob Clark's Black Christmas, however, it really got the attention of Hollywood with John Carpenter's independent box-office-record-smashing masterpiece Halloween. After Halloween in 1978 the slasher floodgates had opened, studios were making them, independents were making them.
If you walked into a video store horror section you might have thought that all horror films were are masked killers slaughtering sexually promiscuous teenagers. Some of these films were good to great (Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, My Bloody Valentine), some were downright terrible (Happy Birthday to Me, Prom Night, House on Sorority Row). In the age of video tape I was a relentless horror nerd, my local chain store actually had a pretty epic horror selection, and I would always try and rent something I had never seen before. Like a typical horror junkie, I was on the look out for my next fix.
When I rented House on Sorority Row back then I remember hating it within the first 5 minutes. When I went back with this 25th Anniversary Edition DVD, and saw it again I tried to go in with a clean slate, and approach it as a film I hadn't seen and hated decades previously. Unfortunately, no amount of faking myself out could prepare me for the stale badness of this film.
House on Sorority Row is about as cliché as a slasher film gets. It tells the story of a group of sorority girls on the eve of graduation decide to throw one last party in their sorority house. The house-mom at this house is quite strict, and bans any sort of party. Instead of getting all droopy, or renting a warehouse or something, they umm....kill her. And after that murders start happening in and around the sorority house.
The synopsis is fairly streamlined, but I have to give sorority row, a bit of credit by trying to push the whodunit angle a bit more than it's contemporaries. Also, it tries to inject a bit of weirdness involving a local doctor, and the house Mom's past. However, these elements do not make up for what ends up being a by the books slasher film.
Liberation has presented House on Sorority Row with a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer was made from it's original 35mm. However, the film looks dull in spots, especially in the softer scenes. There is also moderate grain, and damage to the print throughout. It is nothing too distracting, and I wouldn't expect anything less from a film of this caliber.
House on Sorority Row is presented with 3 audio options, a Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 track in English, and Dolby Digital 2.0 in French. The English tracks were quite suitable. No obvious grain, distortion, or hissing.
This film got pretty stacked for it's 25th Anniversary release. For starters there is a commentary with the director Mark Rosman, and 2 actresses from the film. It also features the original trailer for the film in anamorphic widescreen, a storyboard comparison with commentary from Rosman, an alternate ending made up of stills Also with director's commentary, and a still gallery.
House on Sorority Row is cliché fueled slasher experience. This film isn't just bad, it is predictable and boring. The transfer on the disc is pretty decent consider it's budget and age. The disc, however, is loaded with extras. Which I guess if you're a fan of the film you might find interesting. I guess if you REALLY like slasher flicks you can give this one a go. However, for the rest of us this one is a pass.