The House on Sorority Row (1982)

house on the sorority row

The House on Sorority Row (1983) Directed by Mark Rosman

The crude language of The House on Sorority Row is avowedly that of the slasher vernacular and judging by it is basically the same thing that constitutes American exploitation cinema during the golden era of this sub-genre, a copious amount of schlock and underrated little treasures in the pile, so based on that categorization and blueprint of quality, this obscenely and willfully idiotic film delivers what you traditionally expect, an exorbitant exposition of horny teenagers, mindless violence and extraordinarily illogical narratives. To be perfectly honest, I thought its exploitative 80s slasher filmmaking system would be worse than I imagined, however, as objectively bad as it is, The House on Sorority Row offers a pragmatic slasher, wickedly funny in its silliness that at least delivers instant moments of morbid black humor that proves to be irreverently appropriate to its scruffy style and prurient essence. But as I rightly point out, its sarcastically inclined humorous explicitness is minuscule and ephemeral in comparison to the pantomimic exaggeration of slasher cinema, and consequently, exasperating minutes that go nowhere and get lost in their own incongruity.

Seven sorority sisters, among them Katey and Vicki played by Kate McNeil and Eileen Davidson, prepare their graduation party which they plan to celebrate in the house where they are staying, but the owner of the house, the tedious and strict Mrs. Slater, strictly forbids them to celebrate the graduation in that place. Despite the warnings, the girls ignore what Mrs. Slater said and decide to play a very tasteless prank on the owner of the house, but, against all odds, the prank reaches dangerous levels when they accidentally kill her. Next thing, the frivolous and frightened girls hide the body in the dirty pool of the house. When graduation night arrives, someone starts stalking the girls and killing them one by one. Sure, a stereotypical dynamic like this is gory fun, but even fun in this genre can be so disproportionate that it wastes its entertainment value in a scenario that is too narratively amateurish and cinematically wooden. Director Mark Rosman deciphers very well what he intends to do with the material he has, and he does indeed understand the idioms of the slasher, but it seems he only understood that and not the inherent flaws in it and how to control them. Sleazy and inept, as any cult slasher should be, however the formula here simply doesn’t work.


Matteo Bedon
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When I'm not watching and studying films, I'm writing about them.
Part-time essayist and full-time film critic.