The House on Sorority Row

The House on Sorority Row

Question: Is there anything more fun than watching four squeamish sorority girls try to dispose of a dead body?  I can’t think of anything–unless you consider old ladies falling in the street fun, which I certainly do.  The body in question is Mrs. Slater, creepy housemother and all-around whackjob, the victim of a cruel prank involving a gun thought to be loaded with blanks.  Before you can say “Canadian tax shelter,” the girls are picked off one by one.  Did Mrs. Slater survive?  Or is someone else behind the murders? Insignificant questions, really, since you’d basically have to be an idiot not to spot the killer five minutes in.

Look, all I’ll say about The House on Sorority Row is this: If any one of these girls had half a brain, they’d have half a brain between them: Every wrong move is made, every possible resolution swept under the rug.  No archetype goes unpunished, from the bad girl to the virtuous heroine, the jock, and the clueless good guy, hell-bent on saving the day, but damned to appear in the wrong place at the wrong time. Murders are shot at oblique angles to mask the shoddy make-up effects, and logic is displaced by awe as a party of more than a hundred (including a bad 80’s pop band) is confined to an astonishingly sound-proof living-room–seven women screaming like banshees, and no one hears a thing.

It’s all not so very good, and yet…and yet…Row tries just a little harder than most movies from the era. There’s a plot going on here, scant as it may be; but it’s there, and I admired the effort.  Director Mark Rosman makes good use of a creepy attic set-piece, and seems to know that harlequin dolls are inherently disturbing (which they clearly are).

So, on the Suckage Scale, where Slumber Party Massacre might be a 5 for total and complete suckage, and Halloween, which definitely does not suck, is a 0, The House on Sorority Row gets a solid 3, which I guess means you can take it or suck it; your choice.

1983; starring Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson; directed by Mark Rosman; 91 min; Rated R; English.