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on 22 June 2010
I'm not a fan of new slasher movies. They're cliched and never say anything new. From today's viewpoint, one could say The House on Sorority Row is somewhat cliched as well. The story is that there are a group of girls who have just graduated and are staying in their sorority house so they can hold their graduation party there. The house mother, Mrs Slater, however, has a policy that all the girls must be out by a specific date and is not too pleased when she finds they're still there. One of the girls talks the others into playing a prank on Mrs Slater to demonstrate that they won't be pushed around. The prank goes wrong, however, and Mrs Slater is killed. The girl who came up with the prank doesn't want to take responsibility for what happened so she talks the others into hiding the body in the swimming pool until the party is over. She claims that they will ALL get in trouble, not just those responsible for the prank (the law student girl should really have known that wasn't true). During the party, the girls then start getting picked off one by one - the question is, is it Mrs Slater back from the grave? Or is it someone else?

You have to keep in mind that this was one of the first slasher movies. The slasher movie conventions, so nicely laid bare for us in Scream, weren't written yet, which means that at the time it was made it wasn't cliched. At times, after the introductory flashback scenes, for instance, the film seems like it's going to be some kind of drama about college life. And the way Mrs Slater is portrayed deals with 'tradition vs the new'. When she was younger, women didn't behave in the way the girls in the sorority house did (not so blatantly anyway) and you get the feeling that she yearns for an earlier time, a time that she was comfortable with. So this film isn't just a series of increasingly gruesome deaths, it does have some depth to it as well.

None of the characters are 2-dimensional and the acting isn't all that bad considering it's a slasher movie.

Oh, and the ending is absolutely brilliant. It was clearly influenced by a certain scene in Halloween, but in my opinion was far more flesh-crawling.

So, all in all, this is one of the best slasher movies I've seen. It deals with themes that are there not just as an aside from all the deaths, and it deals with them quite sensitively. Mrs Slater was a sympathetic character and I felt sad for her when the prank went wrong - it's not often that I can say I feel much emotion during a slasher movie. So take a look at this film as a window into the beginnings of the slasher movie genre, but also as a window into the social changes afoot in the early 1980s.
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This 1982 film [aka House of Evil and Seven Sisters] is an ‘old school’ slasher movie and opens to seven graduates posing for their graduation photo and have arranged between them, to hold their graduation party at the house –which will be closed that day. However their plan hits a snag when their strict housemother, Mrs Slater, unexpectedly returns and spoils their plan. Undeterred, the 7 sorority sisters go ahead with their party and decide to play a prank on Mrs Slater but it all goes wrong and the girls agree to hide Slater's body in their dirty swimming pool until the party is finished. But when the body vanishes the girls wonder if she is actually dead or has someone else discovered their secret. Things turn worse as one by one the girls meet an unfortunate end, along with one or two guests.
The first thing about this is that you don’t get the cover illustrated, you get a black and white picture cover with red titles and an 18 rating –not 15. The main problem is that as soon as the film loads, you think you’re watching a flashback due to the very 1970’s grainy picture, sound quality, music and overall style, but you soon realise that’s down to the low $425,000 budget. This is also a single disc version [the region 1 is a double] which has no facilities other then play, scene selection and its trailer. This has gained quite a cult following being one of the early examples of the slasher genre, but sadly, is now more a suspense thriller. It lacks the gore and shock that many new horror films possess but it’s strength is its Hitchcockian approach to the murders. with two decent scenes of gore for the fans.
The acting is generally good, but can be hit and miss in places –mainly due to a lack of emotional involvement with the script. The character portrayal means we never really sympathise with the girls for only one of them, Katy, [Kate McNeil] isn't self obsessed.
If you love films from this period or are a ‘B movie’ fan then this might work for you but overall it really is for fans only and the 15 rating seems appropriate, allowing it to be a **** view rather than a *** 18.
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on 16 April 2012
A group of sorority girls can't afford to have their party where they wanted, so they decide to hold the party at the sorority house. Mrs Slater finds out that the girls are planning on staying, even though the house gets closed for three months after the school year. She demands that the girls be out of the house the day after, and insists there will be no party. It seems that Mrs Slater was once a great housemother who had an excellent relationship with the girls in her care, but over the years she's become miserable and bitter, and the girls now view her as a dinosaur. Already furious that the girls are still in the house when it should be empty, she catches one of the girls called Vicki having sex and is disgusted. She exclaims "You filth, trash like you doesn't belong in my house." Vicki decides to pull a prank on Mrs Slater, and of course the prank goes wrong resulting in her death. Vicki manages to rope the others into covering it up for her, instead of just going to the police and explaining the accident. There's the usual arguments of she's already dead and going to the police won't change anything and why should all our lives be ruined for a mistake? With Mrs Slater dead and her body out of the way, the girls decide to go ahead with the party. Once the party begins, the girls start getting knocked off one by one.

The acting really does fluctuate between good and awful, but it's classic eighties bad acting which is never a bad thing. Kate McNeil is the main girl and the film focuses on her more than the others, a good thing as she's clearly the better actress out of the friends. I watched her just last week in Monkey Shines and she's gone on to have considerably more success than the others, she's appeared in dozens of TV shows throughout the last twenty years. Eileen Davidson was decent as Vicki, she's been one of the main stars of American soap The Young and the Restless for over 25 years. Special mention needs to go to Jodi Draigie who plays a ditzy blonde called Morgan, she's attractive enough but her acting is just hopeless, her delivery of certain lines is side splittingly funny. Lois Kelso Hunt has a good screen presence but she's clearly been dubbed, the producer's didn't believe her voice to be assertive or scary enough. For most of the other girls and cast members this stands as their one and only film, hardly surprising. It's written and directed by Mark Rosman, his debut as both. This is by far the best film he's done, with such a decent debut it's surprising he's had such a mediocre career since.

There's a little bit of nudity for anyone interested, and nowhere near as much blood and guts as you would expect from an early eighties slasher film. Some of the deaths are quite good though, and there's a brilliant scene in a toilet. The music is good, especially the band that plays in the house, they're a typical cheesy eighties band. It moves along at a cracking pace, once the party begins it's pretty relentless. The murder weapon of choice is a walking cane, some of the other reviewers have criticised the film based on this, but it's not the only film to have a walking cane as a weapon and it's a somewhat interesting choice. The ending is a little weird but genuinely creepy, especially a scene in the attic that I have to admit made me jump.

The region 2 DVD isn't great, the first few minutes look horrible, it was meant to be in black and white but the producers changed it and gave it a dark blue tint. It's extremely grainy and soft, almost hard to see what's actually going on. Once we get to the house the picture quality improves a lot, but it's still reasonably poor. The sound isn't the greatest, no real problems apart from the dubbing I mentioned earlier. There's a trailer and scene selection, no extras at all and no subtitles. A few years ago a 25th anniversary edition was released in America, I don't know what extras are on it but I've heard favourable comments on the picture quality. The film will be thirty years old next year, a perfect time for a new region 2 release but it's doubtful to happen. If you have the means I'd suggest you at least look into the region 1 release before ordering this version, but if all you're interested in is the film itself with an okay transfer, then this is quite cheap and will get the job done.

The House On Sorority Row isn't as good as the classic slashers, Black Christmas, Halloween, The Prowler, Friday The 13th, My Bloody Valentine and The Burning. If you don't already like slasher films then this won't change your mind, if you're interested in slashers then this isn't really an ideal film to start with. It's a very enjoyable film if you happen to be the film's target audience, most other people will hate many aspects of it. For me personally, it's an essential for a slasher fan, but not even close to being a favourite. It is however much better than a lot of the '90s slasher films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cherry Falls, Urban Legend and Valentine. Not awful films but like so many films of their type, it was done much better in the '80s. I would have no hesitation in giving the film 4 stars, but the very poor region 2 DVD is the reason I've settled on 3 stars.
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on 18 September 2013
The House on Sorority Row was a great slasher flick from 1983. It was made in the era when studios still made good movies and namely good horror movies. This movie has a very well rounded cast with most having little to no experience in the horror genre. No particular actor or actress sticks out but the entire cast did a very good job and helped make the film easy to watch. The story is your typical slasher formula with the revenge subplot. In fact, the film could be easily compared to Friday the 13th Part II. Though it is not original it is very entertaining and done in such a way it does seem original and very unique. The film also offers some pretty decent special effects to go along with it's pretty impressive kills, however if your looking for a total gore fest then forget it. There was at least two gory death scenes, one which includes a decapitated head in the toilet.

The film follows seven sorority sisters as they try to have the typical college experience while living under their tyrannical house mother, Mrs. Slater. Slater is stuck in her old ways and refuse to let the girls have guys over passed a certain hour and absolutely no parties. One night one of the sorority girls sneaks her boyfriend up in her room when she catches them. She stabs the young girl's water bed with her sharp cane and runs the boy out. The young girl vows to get her back and plans a prank involving a gun filled with blanks. However, that prank goes horribly wrong and she shoots Mrs. Slater. The sorority sisters try to cover it up by dumping the body in a filthy swimming pool (they figured that no one will go swimming in there) all while hosting a graduation party in their sorority house. In true slasher form the girls start to go missing as there might be a killer out for revenge.

Between director Mark Rosman and a decent cast, this low-budget horror tale rises above many of it's kind. Rosman makes the most of the filming locations while nicely adding stylistic touches to the film with good camera work and some nice imagery. He creates some truly effective moments of psychological horror, as well as physical (with some occasional bloody moments). Ultimately the film manages to build to some good suspense and a claustrophobic finale! Also of note is the wonderful music score which was done by Richard Band, which provides some beautiful and haunting themes for the film. Overall, this movie is a true definition of a slasher film as it's one of my favorites and I highly recommend it. This 2 disc edition from Scorpion Releasing was filled with special features. Both Scorpion Releasing and Katarina's Nightmare Theater have carried over the extras featured on the 2003 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD release, they've also produced several of their own bonus features. Carried over from the earlier release is an audio commentary track featuring actresses Kate McNeil and Eileen Davidson as well as director Rosman.

You can also watch House on Sorority Row in "Katarina's Nightmare Theater" if you've seen the film a few times before and want to experience the slasher flick within a new and entertaining context. There's also a few trailers, a TV spot, an interview with co-star Harley Jane Kozak. Pretty much anything a fan of the film would want is presented here and it's clear that those behind this presentation knew how to treat the classic sorority slasher flick and it's fans right with the bonus content.
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on 31 July 2014
Basic plot in which a group of girls play a prank on their house lady who doesn't like the girls antics (staying up late, drinking and having sex). Prank of course all goes wrong and house lady ends up dead. Now someone is seeking revenge and killing off the girls one by one. Only one of them played by Kate McNeil isn't a bitch. But McNeil's performance is so flat and annoying, you find yourself drawn to the other characters anyway.

The House On Sorority Row has gained quite a cult following in the slasher genre. And there are moments in this film that justify this. But if truth be known, the film isn't that good. Even gorehounds will walk away not satisifed, there is minimal here, with only a couple of quick scenes of blood.

Other than that you have a typical 80s slasher movie, and if you love films from this period then you should get this one. But in no way will this convert any non slasher fan- this really is for fans only.

This DVD release is very nice. A 2 disc edition, that contains stacks of extras, including commentaries and the like.
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on 5 February 2010
In this clasic early eighties slasher a group of graduates decide to stay on in their sorority house for another week and hold a graduation party much to the displeasure of their house mother who was intending to have the house all to herself (something is up however, as we discover from a visit to the head doctors). After antagonising the sorority sisters once too often they decide to get their own back on the unreasonable house mother and things go horribly wrong leading to (an almost inevitable for films like this) cycle of nudity and murder!!
Those looking for sophistication in their films look elsewhere, anyone after a classic slice of eighties slasher mayhem need look no further as this is plenty of fun inspite of lacking any origionality whatsoever and sits proudly alongside My Bloody Valentine [DVD] [1981] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] and Happy Birthday to Me [DVD] [1981] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] as one of the better quality slasher pics of the era. The film boasts some great performances (and some truley dreadful ones!) an excellent score from Richard band brother of legendary low budget horror director/producer charles and an accomplished composer in his own right and is abley and competently directed by mark rosman director of the even more terryfying A Cinderella Story [DVD] [2004] and The Perfect Man [DVD] [2005] proof if it is needed that he is capable of delivering an audience true horrors!
The picture quality on this disc is the best i've seen and the film is presented in 16x9 widescreen with a mostly great sound mix (aside from a few instances of duff lip synching) and we get a commentary track, alternative ending and storyboard comparisons but the lack of any making of featurettes was a dissapointment and lost the release a star. Overall though this is still a better release than what was already available and is definately worth the invetment if your a fan.
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on 13 August 2007
This movie is just a masterpiece, I mean, in the slasher movie category.
More serious than the others, it provides good acting, good music, some terrific moments and a good story ! What more can we ask ?
Oh yeah, just wanted to say : the end of the movie is absolutely scary !
I think this movie never got the success it deserved !
No doubt about the fact that the director was an assistant of Brian De Palma because we get to see how much he learned from his experience with this great film director.
A golden piece to add to your slasher DVD collection !
(I hope my English's understandable ! sorry, I'm French !)
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on 4 October 2014
This is certainly not one of the best slashers. Weak plot, no character development and no suspence. Watch all the other great, classics and leave this one for later. I expected a masterpiece, so i was a little disappointed. It was entertaining enough but not a great movie. Loads of extras, very good transfer with noise in the dark scenes!
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on 29 November 2014
Not particularly scary for me, but then I was able to laugh at the Exorcist, so it takes a lot to scare me. I does keep you wondering though, so as a suspense thriller it works on that level, but not as a horror film.
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on 16 April 2009
I consider "House on Sorority Row" one of the very best 80's slashers and I highly recommend it to all horror fans. The story of the prank going wrong and then the girls responsible being picked off one by one is of course typical stuff of the time,however, it's done with style and imagination. This is a cut above most stalk and slash films as it contains superior suspense and build up to the deaths as well as good gore and characters. The direction is very impressive and the face-off between remaining girl and killer is a great ending; exciting and suspenseful.
Definitely a slasher classic!
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