• House On Sorority Row (88 Films)

    House On Sorority Row (88 Films)
    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: October 23rd, 2017.
    Director: Mark Rosman
    Cast: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward, Robin Meloy
    Year: 1983

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Mark Rosman, who has since gone on to churn out a lot of comedies and TV work in addition to writing the recent remake of this very film entitled simply Sorority Row, this low budget slasher film from 1983 isn't even close to the best of its breed but it has a certain quirky, nostalgic charm that makes it marginally endearing to fans of the genre.

    When the film begins, a woman loses her baby during childbirth. After this scene, we meet Mrs. Slater (Lois Kelso Hunt), a cranky old woman who runs a sorority house populated by a group of foxy and nubile young ladies who are planning to use the house for a big party against her will. They try to keep it a secret but when she walks in on them yapping about it while chugging booze in their pajamas, the secret is a secret no more. Unhappy with things going the way they are, she later disrupts one of the girls, Vicki (Eileen Davidson), in the midst of having relations with her boyfriend, at which point the girls decide to teach to old bat a lesson. They borrow a gun and decide to prank her into falling into the pool that is in the backyard and which is full of green algae.

    Of course, the prank goes wrong and before the party starts they wind up killing the woman by accident. Katherine (Kate McNeil), the only one of the bunch who seems to have any morals, wants to call the cops but the other talk her out of it. While the band plays in the living room and the party starts to heat up, various party goers start getting knocked off, one by one, and Mrs. Slater's body, which was left at the bottom of the pool, is mysteriously missing.

    Despite the fact that much of the violence takes place off screen, that the film is fairly bloodless, and that when there is any gore its handled fairly poorly, it's hard not to like this picture. Yes, it's almost entirely by the numbers but it's such a dopey premise played with such ham-fisted seriousness that you can't help but dig it. No one in the film is particularly good as far as their performances go, but you've got to give Eileen Davidson credit for playing the bitchy bratty type with such stereotypical gusto and to Kate McNeil for looking cute and playing the nice girl as woodenly as she does here. Lois Kelso Hunt's turn as the bitchy matron type resembles sort of a demonic and uber-bitchy Mrs. Garrett from The Facts Of Life, played as if she's got some sort of bizarre fetal complex. On top of that, we get some performance footage from a band called 4 Out Of 5 Doctors during the party scene, a group so horribly dated that they fit right in with the rest of the eighties era clichés that run rampant throughout the film.

    A few suspenseful moments remind us that we are watching a horror film and the orchestral score composed by the prolific Charles Band and performed, amazingly enough, by the London Philharmonic Orchestra is definitely a highlight. In the end though, as fun as this movie is, it's hard to take any of it all too seriously. It's plenty nostalgic for those of us who grew up in the era in which it was made and it's a fun film, but you can't really say that it's a good one, not in the traditional sense - it's entertaining enough though and worth seeing.


    The 1.78.1 AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen transfer looks quite good. Colors look a bit flat occasionally but are more often than not pretty natural looking. Black levels are a bit murky in the opening scene in but are decent enough for the rest of the film and this would seem to be how the picture was shot as past DVD editions shows this as well. Some minor print damage pops up here and there but it’s not distracting and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note. The transfer is also nice and filmic, showing a natural amount of film grain that resolves well enough and the picture is thankfully free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement problems. Detail and texture both advance over previous DVD offerings as well, and if they don’t approach reference quality, the picture quality here is generally quite solid.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track in the film’s native English. No problems here – dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the levels are properly balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras on the disc start off with an audio commentary by the Hysteria Lives Podcast team. If you’ve heard the commentary tracks that these guys have done in the past you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. They take things seriously enough but have a sense of humor to their delivery that makes this an entertaining listen. They discuss the performances, the sets, the direction style and the effects but also how the film compares and contrasts to other classic slasher films and quite a bit more.

    88 Films also supplies to brand new interviews, the first of which is with composer Richard Band and runs thirty-three minutes. He details how he came to be involved in the production, the work he did on the score and his thoughts on the picture as a whole. The second interview gets film critic/historian/author/moustache aficionado Kim Newman that clocks in at twenty-four minutes. Newman offers up his astute thoughts on the film’s place in the pantheon of slasher films in his typically entertaining style, making this a worthy addition to the disc. Outside of that the disc also includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The first 1,000 people that order off of the 88 Films website will receive a numbered slipcover and a full color insert booklet containing twelve pages of liner notes from Calum Waddell.

    The Final Word:

    While far from the greatest slasher of its era, House On Sorority Row is pretty entertaining stuff. It benefits from a solid concept, a great location and a few strong murder set pieces. The Blu-ray release from 88 Films is a good one, presenting the film in a nice high definition presentation and with some solid extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!