31 Days to Scare ~ The House on Sorority Row

The Facts

Synopsis: After a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of sorority sisters are stalked and murdered one by one in their sorority house while throwing a party to celebrate their graduation.

Stars: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Harley Jane Kozak, Robin Meloy, Jodi Draigie, Ellen Dorsher, Lois Kelso Hunt, Janis Ward

Director: Mark Rosman

Rated: R

Running Length: 91 minutes

TMMM Score: (7/10)

Review: They say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover…and the same goes for movie posters in the 1980’s.  Low-budget films were often sold to major studios based solely on their advertising, advertising that would then be used by the studio to promote the movie.  Such is the case with The House on Sorority Row, a rather well-done little slasher film that probably gets skipped over by more discerning audiences because of its tawdry art and deceiving tagline.  Let’s be clear, there’s no one remotely resembling the woman on the poster in this movie and you don’t exactly need to gird your loins when the heroine of our story “fights back”.

By now, this is familiar territory: A group of young women get stalked and spiked by a mysterious killer out for revenge.  It’s what writer/director Mark Rosman does with the recycled material where the true beauty of the film lies and why it’s a film I’d recommend to the uninitiated.  What could have been a movie that simply focused on boobs and blood (don’t worry, there’s a little bit of both) turns into a suspenseful yarn that isn’t as easy to predict as you might think.

On the eve of their college graduation, a handful of sorority sisters stage a prank that goes too far and someone winds up dead.  They naively decide to hide the body because, duh, they have a party to throw and they can’t let all that beer and food go to waste.  When girls and guests start meeting the business end of a variety of sharp objects, the remaining co-eds have to discover who’s knocking them off…is it their victim who wasn’t quite dead or someone else making them pay for their crime?

Unfairly lost in the flood of copycat slice and dice films that poured out of every studio big and small in the ‘80s, The House on Sorority Row is much better than you’d think.  It’s well-crafted even with its small budget and competently performed by a cast that featured future stars Harley Jane Kozak (Parenthood) and Eileen Davidson (a soap star and Real Housewife of Beverly Hills).  Though it was remade as Sorority Row in 2009 as a catty but rather fun retread, if you can find the original on disc or catch it playing on late-night TV, pledge with confidence.

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