Sorority House Massacre

Dir: Carol Frank, 1986. Starring: Angela O'Neill, John C. Russell, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio. Horror.
Sorority House Massacre

You've got your good slashers and you've got your bad ones, but when you really think about it, there is no such thing. It all boils down to a matter of taste. If you go to the movies for a good shock or scare, you probably think that movies like this are terrible. If you're going to see dimwitted or annoying people get killed and laugh at one-liners, then you'll love Sorority House Massacre. Before I mention the plot, if you know anything about this movie, you know that it has to do with a brother coming back to kill his sister after slaughtering the entire family. Many think of Halloween, just as you might have heard about its relation to dreams, which is linked with A Nightmare on Elm Street. If you've looked up this movie, or other slashers, only to find that people down it because it has elements of other horror movies, don't believe the hype. Every single genre in cinema will have elements of some other film, work of art, pop culture, you name it. Not that you shouldn’t praise what has been established as original, but don't get too hung up on it. This movie is terrible and it means to be. Everything is so over the top, particularly the fashion. The fact that nothing in the plot is believable and that there are so many pointless scenes only adds to how perfectly cheesy it is. The fact that the woman on the cover/posters is not even in the movie also adds to the cheese factor.

The plot is pretty straightforward: crazy older brother slaughters parents and three of his four sisters. Beth (Angela O'Neill), who was five years old at the time, escapes, is raised by others, forgets the incident, and joins a sorority in college. She does find a disturbing connection between her new sorority house and her childhood home where the murders happened. Of course, we discover that it's the same house. Meanwhile, her brother Bobby (John C. Russell) spends his time strapped to a bed in an institution. The center of the plot, besides people getting murdered, is her dreams. It is speculated earlier in the movie that brain waves can be transmitted through space just like waves of light and sound. Apparently her brother has got some pretty powerful brain waves and has filtered his way into her sleep. She begins to feel that he is after her and he eventually escapes - with stupendous ease - out of his mental institution. Thus, she and her sorority sisters are in for a big surprise when he comes home.

I am now going to highlight my favorite parts, but you'll forgive me if it doesn’t make much sense because I'm cracking up just thinking about it. First is the fashion, which is absolutely terrible. Think Heathers with no point and no color scheme. Beth's "sisters" dress in everything from ballooned houndstooth pants to an ugly pink gown in the middle of summer. There is this utterly useless scene where the sorority mother and the leading snob leave with others on some sort of vacation. As soon as they depart, Beth's roommates run to the snob's room and begin trying on her clothes. The entire scene is a ridiculous montage of clothes piling up, topless girls giggling and trying on someone else's belongings, and the homely Beth sitting in the background. It makes absolutely no sense, and yet it is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Second is the escape of Bobby. Mind you, this is a highly dangerous, perfectly fit young man. Bobby gives a swift tug at his constraints (which look older than God), and waits in his bed. A lazy male nurse comes into his room wearing a Walkman and sets his food down. He turns, and Bobby kills him. Wait, it gets better. Bobby then walks out of the room, through the halls and unlocked gates that section them off, gets outside, climbs the fence, and steals a car with the keys in it. Amazing! The whole thing played out like he was aggressively quitting a job, not escaping from an asylum full of murderers.

The last thing I'd like to mention isn't the campiness of the movie, but the rare moments where it's actually really daring. Beth's dream sequences, while they're a bit repetitive, have a good amount of artistic effort. There is a wonderful amount of symbolism within the props, such as marbles and these demented mannequins who sit as replacements for her family at a dinner table. The lighting in her dreams is gorgeous and vivid and there is even a small amount of slow-motion effects. Her dreams are pretty much the only "substance" in the movie, and since they are sort of on repeat, it is rather anticlimactic. Outside of that aspect is pure comedy, with a semi-serious knifing thrown in for good measure. There are plenty of horror movies that can gross you out or make you scared, but this one is simply a good time with a few solid moments sprinkled in. Recommended for those who like movies that are so bad they're good.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Oct 19, 2010 4:38pm
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