31 Days to Scare ~ Sorority House Massacre (1986)

The Facts:

Synopsis: College student Beth and her sorority sisters are stalked by an escaped psychopathic killer who shares a strange telepathic link with her

Stars: Aimee Brooks, Angela O’Neill, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio, John C. Russell

Director: Carol Frank

Rated: R

Running Length: 74 minutes

TMMM Score: (5.5/10)

Review: It’s going to be hard to look past the title of this movie. It’s going to be even more difficult to overlook the plot description. The cover is going to make you raise both eyebrows in a significant arch. Yet, in the end, Sorority House Massacre is not a bad effort considering it’s low budget and inexperienced cast. You’re just going to have to trust me. It’s no classic and there are literally hundreds of other movies you should see before this one. If you’re like me, however, you’ve seen all those other hundred movies and might need to take a chance on something you’d normally breeze by.  This 1986 cheapie from Roger Corman’s production company was written and directed by Carol Frank, a first-time director who never made another movie after this. That’s no dig on Ms. Frank, just an important bit of trivia to get out of the way. Though it’s very similar in plot to The Slumber Party Massacre, another Corman flick that Frank served as an assistant to the director on, Sorority House Massacre does what it can to set itself apart when it has the opportunity to do so.

Reminiscent of any number of popular slasher films that came before it (the whiff of the Halloween films is ever-present), Sorority House Massacre follows a few nights in the lives of sorority sisters left alone for the weekend. Though at first they giggle and talk about boys, they soon start screaming as a madman gets into their house and starts picking them and their boyfriends off one by one. Beth (Angela O’Neill) figures out she has a telepathic link to the killer and discovering how this connection is formed becomes a nice diversion in the midst of all the slayings.

At 74 minutes, the movie manages to feel longer than it should be. There are a few silly sequences included just for the drive-in fans…like the totally random sequence where the girls invade one of their absent sorority sisters closet for a dress-up montage. Of course this is a great moment to feature some copious nudity but it’s oddly voyeuristic, like the camera was just left on during a costume test for the nubile actresses. Then there is the fascination with repressed memory (lucky that one of the girls is a budding psych student!) that results in a hysterical passage where Beth gets hypnotized to plumb her mind for details on the killer.

Surprisingly, the acting is often above average here and I appreciated the attempt to fill out the movie with more backstory than was probably necessary. The killings are bloody enough and several chase sequences have a decent payoff…though it’s never clear just how these girls can’t overpower the scrawny slasher or call for help in what is a fairly populated neighborhood. As in most of these low-budget productions, there’s a lot of crew equipment visible and in one shot I thought a boom mike was another character in a scene because it made so many appearances.

This is one I always passed up in my video store days…mostly because I couldn’t come up with an excuse for my parents to let me rent a movie called Sorority House Massacre. It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime and though I considered stopping it several times I’m glad I took a gamble on it because while it’s not quite bad enough to be a cult classic it’s good enough to hold my interest.

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