Genre: Slasher Running Time: 1 hr. 14 min.
Release Date: October 10th, 1986 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Carol Frank Actors: Angela O’Neill, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio, John C. Russell, Marcus Vaughter, Vinnie Bilancio
as writer/director Carol Frank ever seen a slasher film? While a few brief moments appear to possess a small amount of thought behind them, the majority of “Sorority House Massacre” steals elements from previous, more successful and more innovative horror fare. With an agonizingly lame conclusion, during which everyone repeatedly turns their backs to the murderer, an excessive amount of flashbacks, and a bit of pointless nudity (but not enough to be titillating), this lifeless girls-in-lingerie thriller doesn’t offer an ounce of unconventionality to the already tired exploitation subgenre.
Shattered glass, bleeding ceilings, lifelike mannequins, and a raving lunatic with a giant hunting knife are just a few of the horrific images that plague young Beth’s (Angela O’Neill) dreams. After her aunt’s death, Beth moves into the Theta Omega Theta house and attempts to adjust to college life. But her terrifying visions continue to grow more vivid, and as her sorority sisters are slowly murdered one by one, it’s apparent that her true nightmares have only just begun.
Moments when the boyfriends sneak up on the girls provide the most number of surprises early on, while the halfhearted butchering itself never presents a genuine scare. The slaughterer chooses a simple knife – no extravagant morbidity there, no signature tool of slaughter. And why does he or she always have to walk so slowly? Doesn’t the culprit have people to kill and places to go? Carrying on with the blandness, a rather textbook mental patient concept is generically introduced. It’s the same plot as “Halloween” and every substandard horror derivation since, paired with the tormented dreams of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” It’s especially draining that the premise is so familiar, considering that while Beth is deciphering her psychic abilities, the audience is forced to watch the same story twice, once in flashback, and again as the killer recreates the original massacre.
When Larry the mental hospital orderly (a bit part by Axel Roberts) proves to be the best actor of the bunch, it’s obvious the film has problems. The girls’ small talk is annoyingly flimsy, but not nearly as bad as a poorly inserted ‘80s fashion show montage, in which three girls gleefully try on dozens of outfits, embellished with upbeat music and extraneous nudity. That sequence couldn’t possibly have been more out of place or less realistic, and sorely contradicts the mildly feminist distancing this film takes from its exploitative brethren.
“It is just a dream. There’s nothing to be afraid of,” insists one of the girls. The hallucinogenic sequences are a bit overbearing, constantly creating fake scares and eating up the majority of the screentime. Apparently, actually offing hordes of sorority members isn’t a venture as worthwhile. Fortunately, the unconscious visions are creepier than the reality, but they’re juxtaposed confusingly; Beth’s clairvoyance mixes with flashbacks and slow-motion nightmares to create an eerie atmosphere and a muddling introduction to her troubled past. Too bad the entire film is essentially a feature-length flashback. And too bad the few scenes when the project takes itself seriously are dwarfed by unabashed nudity and frightfully bad dialogue.
– The Massie Twins