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John’s Horror Corner: The House on Sorority Row (1982), another forgettable “classic” slasher movie without one good on-screen death scene.

February 19, 2020

MY CALL: Another “classic” not worthy of the term. Crappy death scenes, nearly goreless, yet surprisingly impressive overall production value. Go figure. MORE MOVIES LIKE The House on Sorority Row: For more sorority horror, try Black Christmas (1974), The Initiation (1984), Black Christmas (2006) and Happy Death Day (2017). However, I’d skip the remake Sorority Row (2009).

Excited to move on to the next step in their lives, high society sorority girls Katherine (Kate McNeil; Monkey Shines), Morgan, Diane (Harley Jane Kozak; Arachnophobia), Vicki (Eileen Davidson; The Last Sharknado), Liz, Jeanie and Stevie are planning their graduation party. But when their crotchety House mother Slater won’t allow the celebration, the girls take matters into their own hands with a good old-fashioned sorority prank. Only, no surprise, the prank is taken way too far and goes horribly wrong… killing Slater!

But the party must go on, right? So the girls hide Slater’s body and go about their celebrations only to be picked off one by one by a killer. But wait! Who could the killer be?

I must come clean. I didn’t expect much from this movie—I expected exploitative 80s slasher garbage (like Unhinged). Yet much to my surprise, the score, editing and production value all greatly exceed my expectations. Just in the first five minutes it’s quite evident how much care went into the filmmaking. That said, for all the care that went into this, very little such care is attended to the death scenes. The kills are incredibly basic and, with little exception, largely off-screen… making for a big disappointment in the horror department. Dare I contest a ‘classic’, but the third act revelation isn’t as exciting as you’d hope either.

Writer/director Mark Rosman (Mutant, The Invader) does what he can to garner some cheap thrills (i.e., nudity, sex scene) and create a great horror movie framework. But he doesn’t seem to be trying all that hard to elicit scares. Sigh.

Despite noticeable efforts, this movie failed in the most important component: the horror. It’s perfectly watchable, but not something I’d recommend. Moreover, I wouldn’t recommend the reimagining/remake Sorority Row (2009), which is thankfully better in terms of jump-scares and kills, but by comparison to its source material “better” doesn’t really signify much.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2020 3:49 pm

    Good review and I just had to comment on that handset swinging around. I had that exact phone as a teenager and my mom Goliath’d me with it once when my mouth got a little too skippy for my own good. All I remember after the thud was that handset flying around exactly like that.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 20, 2020 5:12 pm

      We share that in common. I, too, was once the recipient of a bludgeoning via old school phone receiver. lol

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 21, 2020 9:56 am

      Yup. No one’s getting properly assaulted by an iPhone unless the attacker has a great pitching arm. lol

  2. rdfranciswriter permalink
    October 17, 2021 5:12 pm

    The ONLY reason I rented this was because of my goal to watch every film with a rock band in it. This case: the Maryland-based new wave band 4 Out of 5 Doctors, appears in the film as the party band.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 18, 2021 7:22 pm

      That is a strange goal. lol. I watched it hoping this “classic” would have something good about it. Aaaaaaand not really.

      • rdfranciswriter permalink
        October 18, 2021 7:26 pm

        Oh, I know it’s strange! A band. A radio station? I’ve seen it. And those films are most, awful.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 18, 2021 7:29 pm

      Well, at least you found some joy in it. haha. I was just sitting there thinking “are the set designs really the best thing about this movie?”

      • rdfranciswriter permalink
        October 18, 2021 7:31 pm

        Well, the two forgotten albums by 4 Out of 5 Doctors are better than the movie. So there’s that.

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