• House On Sorority Row (Limited Edition)



    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: May 11th, 2018.
    Director: Mark Rosman
    Cast: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward, Robin Meloy
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Ronin Flix

    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.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Scorpion’s reissue of the film is presented on a 50gb disc and touted as being sourced from a “brand new 2k scan of the original negative with over 45 hours of color correction done exclusively for this release.” The results are quite nice indeed, with the colors definitely looking noticeably superior to past Blu-ray editions. Black levels are strong, skin tones look spot on and there’s nice depth and detail throughout. The image is quite clean, showing only minor print damage and quite infrequently at that. Compression artifacts are a non-issue and the disc is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement problems. This is quite a strong picture!

    The disc also includes a new DTS-5.1 Master Audio mix taken from the original 3-track Mag elements, as well as the original 2.0 Mono track, also in DTS-HD format. The 5.1 track actually does quite a nice job spreading the film’s solid soundtrack around throughout the different speakers in your setup, and it occasionally using some directionality in its effects placement as well, with most of the dialogue kept up front. The mono track obviously doesn’t do that, it takes a more restrained approach and presents the movie as it would have been when it played theatrical. Both sound quite good, with nicely balanced levels and clean, clear dialogue. Optional English closed captioning is provided.

    Carried over from the old Liberation Entertainment DVD release is a commentary track from writer/director Mark Rosman who is joined by actresses Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil. Rosman does most of the talking here, explaining how when he sold the movie to Film Ventures he had to colorize the opening scene that was originally shot in black and white before moving on and discussing why the opening sequence was designed to look the way that it does. Rosman also talks about how the film was originally called Seven Sisters but that the distributor changed it so that people wouldn’t think that it was a movie about nuns. There are a few moments where they clam up a bit but these are few and far between and for the most part this is a relaxed, amiable but fairly interesting talk about their various experiences on the film and about how the project came to be, even if the commentators spend a bit too much time explaining what’s on the screen at times. A second audio commentary with director Mark Rosen, moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters, is also included. It covers a fair bit of the same ground as the first one but also manages to go in a few unique directions from time to time. It isn’t paced as well as the original track but diehard fans of the film will appreciate it. This track originally appeared on Scorpion’s 2-disc DVD release from 2012.

    Also carried over from that release are a bunch of additional video interviews. First up is a forty-two-minute piece with actress Harley Jane Kozak who speaks about how she landed the role and how it wound up having an effect on her career. She also shares some interesting stories from the film shoot and her thoughts on the production. From there, Waters winds up hosting a fourteen-minute interview with Kate McNeil where she talks about how she wound up in the picture and what it was like working on it. Waters appears again in a seven-minute piece with Eileen Davidson and a twenty-one-minute piece with Rosman – these cover a lot of the same ground as the original commentary does but in a more condensed format. Composer Richard Band is also interviewed in a lengthy forty-five-minute piece with Waters where he talks about how he wound up working on the project and what he tried to bring to it with his music. Producer Igor Kanter is also interviewed, for ten minutes, wherein he details his background in the film industry and some of the projects he worked on in his earlier days before then discussing his involvement in this particular project.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is an original trailer for the feature, a trio of television spots, a quick featurette on the film’s original ending accompanied by almost five-minutes of storyboards for that lost footage, an isolated music score track, menus and chapter selection. We’re also able to watch the movie in Katarina’s Nightmare Theater mode, in which Waters provides an amusing and informative intro and outro for the feature. The disc comes packaged with some slick reversible cover art as well as a collectible slipcover (limited to 1500 pieces).

    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 new Blu-ray release from Scorpion Releasing is a good one, presenting the film in excellent shape and an impressive array of extra features.

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