Middling Eighties chiller ...
- The House on Sorority Row review by NP
The 1970s begun with an unprecedented explosion of horror films from around the world. Many of them, especially the European offerings, were defined by the decade. It is difficult, for example, to imagine a really successful giallo film without collars and flares and male heroes every bit as manicured as the females. By the time of the 1980s, the horror genre had become somewhat stale, and it wasn’t until the rise of the slasher films – such as this – that the decade found its own decade-defining horror staple. To my mind – and I realise this is not a popular view – the likes of Freddy, Jason and Michael soon became weighed down by the more outlandish nature of their many sequels, and even before it had properly began, the slasher genre had become cartoon-like in its menace. Whereas the 70s had ridiculous coiffeurs and questionable dress sense, the 80s became, in retrospect, even worse. Sadly, shoulder pads, bubble perms and polished oversized blazers were more Joan Jett than Caroline Munro. These statements created their own ‘look’ that never leant itself well to horror.
This is all just my point of view, of course, but the style of the day is what robs ‘The House on Sorority Row’ of much of its punch. The idea is a good one – an accidental apparent death leads to a bloody killing spree - but the production, the filming techniques and the overall sheen is very much that of an episode of Dynasty or Falcon Crest (two popular American soaps of the time). This makes it surprising, and jarring, when an expletive is used, or a particularly gory moment occurs.
This isn’t to say there aren’t creepy moments. And the twist at the end is very satisfying, albeit rather ‘Scooby Doo’ in nature. Director and writer Mark Rosman keeps things moving nicely. It soon becomes clear, though, with the pleasant, wholesome opening theme and silly, giggly nature of the sorority sisters that this production isn’t going to produce much that is unexpected. My score s 5 out of 10.
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