80’s Slasher Throwback: “The House on Sorority Row” Review

From the kid-friendly director of “Lizzie McGuire” and “The Perfect Man” comes one of the most acclaimed horror films from the slasher era? Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? Well that somewhere in the early eighties was horror, specifically the under-appreciated slasher sub-genre. “The House on Sorority Row” began as writer-director Mark Rosman’s calling card in Hollywood, and it was for Stewart Hendler, who directed 2009’s deliciously nasty remake “Sorority Row.” That remake didn’t receive the respect it deserved from audiences or critics and is a fine tribute the world of 80’s slashers. Nonetheless, 30 years later how does the original revenge slasher stack up? Is “House on Sorority Row” worth pledging Delta Delta Die to attend?

The plot, like the plot for many an 80’s slasher, is quite simple. A group of girls staying at a sorority house clash with the house’s owner (the evil Mrs. Slater who sadly isn’t given anything really evil to do) who wants them out of the house. They decide to play a prank on her, but it goes awry and she winds up dead. The plan involving blanks, a pool, and the old lady’s cane is actually pretty lame and the details of the prank don’t make a whole lot sense even after watching the scene two time. Panicking, the girls try to hide the body, but someone (or something) witnessed the crime and begins to stalk them. Has Mrs. Slater returned from the dead for revenge or was she not even dead to began with? Cut to scary music.

“The House on Sorority Row” is an interesting addition to the slasher genre. Interesting in the way that for everything I really enjoyed about this film, I can think of at least something that I also didn’t felt worked at all. The prank, as stated before, is so badly directed that I had no idea what was even happening let alone what the prank was supposed to be. Also, it is hard to hate Mrs. Slater as she is only given two scenes before she is killed off. Also, speaking of killed of…how are the deaths here? Sadly, fairly lackluster. Yes, my fellow slasher fans, this is one of those movies in which almost all of the deaths occur off screen so the heroine can be surprised when she finds her dead friend. Love the reveal of the dead bodies but to do this for ALL of the deaths is a pretty easy way out. That being said, the story is fairly strong and the actresses are all quite good in their roles. If you are a fan of early 80’s revenge/college slasher films, you could do a lot worse than what is on display here. Sadly, it could have also have been a lot better with another rewrite or two.

Make sure to order your copy today. Only 2200 in print and once they sell out, they are gone: House on Sorority Row (remastered special 2 disc edition) (1982)