It’s reasonable to expect the worst when you’re dealing with one of these nondescript stalk and kill movies from late in the slice and dice cycle and Sorority House Massacre easily fails to exceed those expectations right from the get go.
When the lead character, with her short feathered black hair that makes her look even more butch than Courtney Cox in that Springsteen video, first appears and delivers her lines as if she were on some serious anti-psychotic drugs, you realize that while the movie’s hair stylist must have been the first victim, you’re hoping he or she won’t be the last.
The gal with a guy’s hairdo is named Beth and she’s a college kid who is haunted by strange dreams and visions involving a dude with a knife. She also dreams about a family of dolls around a dinner table and a jar of marbles breaking.
Predictably, the movie uses these dreams to try and generate some chills and thrills by having her screaming about being stabbed or about blood dripping here and there, only to be woken up at the last second by one of her ugly sorority mates. Just as predictably, that technique fails to work and is clumsily edited to tie into the mystery guy strapped down at the local looney bin.
Beth has just joined up with this sorority and is apparently returning to school after a bit of an absence due to the death of the aunt who raised her. It’s the weekend and most of the sorority girls are away on some trip, leaving Beth, three other girls, and their four boyfriends to provide the cannon fodder for the killer once he gets around to busting out of the sanitarium. All of these folks are just as atrocious as Beth in both the looks and the talent department, thus causing the audience to breath a sigh of relief whenever one of them takes a butcher knife to the guts.
Despite its brief running time, the movie manages to find time to pad things out with a montage that has to rank among the most embarrassing of all time when the girls go into the bedroom of the richest girl in the sorority and try on all her really gnarly and grody to the max 1980s dresses.
My teeth involuntarily began to grind as soon as one character put a cassette into a tape player thus signaling the beginning of this fashion show from hell. What? You thought they were going to model all those abominations without appropriately banal background music? Frankly, I found the movie most effective at generating scares when it was portraying the gals as fashion victims rather than murder victims.
Back at the State Home For Michael Myers Clones, the crazy guy is periodically going nuts and this results in his doctor hooking him up to some sort of brain wave machine that tests his responses to certain questions. I think this was all part of the movie’s feeble attempts at exploring the whole “psychic link” angle it was trying to sell us on regarding Beth and the killer.
This was also played up a little when one character explained to another that there was an experiment done once where some kittens were killed hundreds of miles away from their mother and the mother reacted at the instant of death each time! Well, shoot! I’m sold! That clearly shows why Beth’s crazy brother is after her and is able to find her so easily once he busts of out of the funny farm.
Well, that and the fact that he goes back to the old family home where he killed everyone years ago and that has since been turned into the very sorority house that Beth lives in now. What a lucky coincidence that was!
The movie begins lifting from Halloween in earnest once the killer escapes. He comes back to town in a station wagon just like Mike did. He stops at the local hardware store to get his killer gear just like Mike did. He returns back to his old house where he killed the entire family except for one of his sisters, just like Mike did. And he’s back in town to hunt down the surviving sister who isn’t entirely aware of her bloody family history just like Mike was.
All that’s missing is the really cool mask, Dr. Loomis, and any semblance of the talent that John Carpenter had behind the camera. And if you ever wanted to appreciate the job that Jamie Lee Curtis did, all you have to do is watch a movie like this where it’s so poorly done that you realize it does take some degree of ability to run around looking scared convincingly.
The killings in this movie are generic knifings and the killer himself is equally generic, never saying anything or evidencing anything in the way of motive. You get lots of unmemorable scenes of people pushing dressers in front of doors, knives stabbing through doors, and acting surprised that the phone cords have been cut.
To give you an idea of the level of movie we are dealing with here, there’s a scene where the boom mike is visible and another scene where a character is running naked toward the house, then it cuts to him coming in the door and he’s clearly got shorts on, then the next cut has him running through the house naked again. Shabby on all levels, Sorority House Massacre aims to follow in Halloween‘s illustrious stab wounds, but merely delivers a nasty paper cut to the audience.
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