I have no qualms about low budget horror films. Some of my very favorite horror movies, “Blair Witch Project” and “The Convent”, were made with a meager budget but made with great enthusiasm. It is when low budget filmmakers take the lazy way out (bad acting, stationary setups, bland characterizations, etc) that a low budget can kill a slasher movie. Made for $45,000, “Fraternity Massacre at Hell Island” is exactly such a film.
The film begins with an intriguing if hardly original concept. A pledge must battle homophobia and a killer clown during his fraternity’s Hell Night. Several people at Felix University want the brothers and pledges of ZAP Fraternity dead, but now someone with an Ax to grind is killing them off one by one at the old haunted river park island. While on the island, a few of the college students learn what happens to people to blindly follow leaders without asking questions. Jack Jones must stop the clown, save the fraternity and find the courage to come out of the closet by sunrise.
Oh great, just what the horror world needs…a slasher film with a heavily moralistic undertone. Don’t get me wrong, I admire that this film is trying to be something more than a typical slasher but heavyhandedness is something that just doesn’t work in horror, or rarely works in horror. It certainly doesn’t work here with a cast that couldn’t act their way out of a cereal commercial. The deaths are incredibly lame (a frat guy runs around, gets stabbed by the clown killer, screams, and dies; repeat OVER and OVER and OVER again) and the direction is pitiful. Why actually get reaction shots when a medium two shot will do? It all just screams laziness. I’m sure there is an audience out there for this film but if they wanted to make a gay drama, they should have made a gay drama. The slashings are half-hearted to say the least and, in the end, the whole thing just feels insultingly trite. Skip it.