Reviews

House On Sorority Row, The (1983)

In 1973, Styx’s Dennis DeYoung asked his “Lady” to “show me all your charm” and “give me all your love.” The world buckled with ecstasy, yet no woman could answer the call. Ten years later, the reason was revealed. One Lady could not hope to provide such an incalculable amount of “charm” and “love.” It would take seven.

Kate! Vicki! Liz! Jeanie! Diane! Morgan! Stevie! These are the women of Theta Chi, who are celebrating graduation with one last mammoth party. And one last mammoth prank. But of course, no prank in a graduation slasher goes off without a hitch. Before a fat guy in whitie-tighties can yell “I’m a sea pig!” while cannon-balling into a pool, Theta Chi’s finest find themselves up to their necks in stylized bloodshed, non-hits by a New Wave band called 4 Out Of 5 Doctors, and the most exciting severed-head-in-a-toilet gag since To All A Goodnight.

Beautifully photographed and filled with excellent performances, The House On Sorority Row feels like what would happen if Black Christmas was made in 1983 instead of 1974. House barks up the same tree as other slick slashers like Strange Behavior, but its heart pumps with cheap trash. And it never deviates. Elegant design, an overbearing orchestral score, and terrific editing provide the class, while glorious gore and a penchant for vague weirdness deliver the cheap thrills. It’s a nice balance.

This movie isn’t nasty or overly strange. It’s a simplistic mystery-slasher with undeniable charm and a few tricks up its blouse-sleeve. The early summer setting. The house’s isolation. The head in the toilet. The killer’s never-glimpsed face. Puke. A cocaine joke. And, of course, the perspective of the seven ladies.

This is also one of the few golden age slashers that isn’t driven by testosterone. One more reason to love it.

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