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"How do we know she IS alive"
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.