DVD Review: The House on Sorority Row (1983) 25th Anniversary Edition


Guest Reviewer: Steven Lewis

There will be buckets of pity given to any person who doesn’t like watching prissy sorority girls receiving rightfully what they deserve – a brutal death.  Most of us horror hounds saw this past year’s Sorority Row, but how many of the casual horror fans or just the casual movie goers know that this was only a remake?  The House on Sorority Row is the 26 year old original that gave life to it’s remake counterpart.  Much has changed between these two films alotted their two decades – the music, the fashion and even the presentations of the women – but one thing hasn’t changed and that is morbid fatalities.  Liberation Entertainment revives this classic by releasing the 25th anniversary edition!

The school year comes to an end and seven graduating girls of the Theta Pi sorority celebrate by throwing a huge party at their sorority house.  Unfortunately, house matron Ms. Dorothy Slatter doesn’t share their enthusiasm and reaches bitch-levels heights of hell among the young and beautiful greek ladies.  They decide to pull a prank on their house mother in retributive spite but when the prank goes array, Ms. Slatter ends up dead and the girls freak out, tossing her deceased body into the filthy sorority pool and keeping it their secret.  As the night and the party progresses, one by one the girls begin to disappear only to be found later gruesomely murdered.  With Ms. Slatter’s body missing from the pool, the girls suspect she has risen from the depths and has pledged revenge on their dastardly deed.

Director Mark Rosman has done a fantastic job with expressing the fear among the ladies.  One scene stands out in particular to me and it is during the first scenes of the party.  Scattered among the party goes, the Theta Pis, just moments after throwing a deceased body into the pool, are the sole gloom looking individuals of the festivities surrounding them and there is a medium length shot of them looking at one another from across the room, each having the same worried expression.  With all them having the same feeling, I thought to myself on how nice to actually see that for once.  I’m tired of having the overly expressed bitch of the group who can be okay with murder and keep on with her life as if nothing ever happened.  Eileen Davidson’s character Vicki is the closest to being that said labeled bitch but in the end, she is just as scared and as frightened as her lesser intense personality sorority sisters.

The gore effects are nearly implied.  There were a few scenes of actual showing of the deaths and the ones that were displayed were sorely bland, aka boring as hell, when compared to other early 80’s films.  We are subjected to shadow deaths and cut scenes that quickly transition right in the middle of the murderous act.  The blood is there; I can’t neglect the severed head in the toilet or the sharp point of the walking cane impaling the eye.  These are notable points of interest, but they’re viewable length is too brief for horror comfort standards.

With a horror movie that deals with a lot of chicks, I’m always guaranteed for an abundance of nude scenes and sexy sex.  Not the case here as we are teased with Vicki’s one topless scene and a short and brief ass cameo.  Not that I’m complaining about Eileen Davidson’s scenes but I would have loved to see more of her co-star Jodi Draigie who played Morgan – yummy!

Enough with the gore and sex, I know that is all you readers want to talk about but lets get back to the plot.  Shooting back to 1961, twenty years earlier, Ms. Slatter was pregnant but supposedly lost her child do to a willing experiment ran by Dr. Beck.  However, Ms Slatter hides her secret and her “dead” child who bares abnormalities that could soon result in a psychotic breakdown.  This plot is a bit far-fetched for the setting that it is, but it is still simple enough to work amongst the sorority grads.  What better way to off beautiful young girls than to have a freak of nature do it?  We never see what the freak looks like but when he dawns the joker mask and outfit, I didn’t really care what his facial features were for that mask was truly scary and the way it was introduced could make anybody crap their pants.

Liberation Entertainment’s 25th Anniversary edition replaces the outdated Elite Entertainment’s out of print version and will be the only active edition out there in the world.  With it’s release now on retail shelves, you can check out its 16×9 widescreen presentation, storyboard comparisons and an alternate ending presentation which I believe to be better than the original.  Don’t miss out on The House on Sorority Row if you’re a fan of the remake and remember girls, pledge Theta Pi or…Die!!!

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5 Responses to “ DVD Review: The House on Sorority Row (1983) 25th Anniversary Edition ”

  1. I recently watched this one via Netflix Instant Online Viewing, and I was pleasantly surprised. I had misguided thoughts of this being a cheesy early-80s piece of crap, but it isn’t. It is not the greatest horror flick ever, but it can stand about plenty of others. Not bad at all, and I would watch it again sometime, so that says a lot!

  2. It was better than the remake, though I did enjoy the remake on the same cheesy level.

  3. Since it’s a DVD review, can’t there be more info or reviews of the special features? Look at John’s review of the Intruder DVD.

  4. “there is a medium length shot of them looking at one another from across the room, each having the same worried expression.”

    I love that scene it was perfectly shot. This is my fav. 80’s slasher and I will be purchasing this new dvd soon.

  5. House on Sorority Row is one the best slasher films. The score is fantastic and should be more iconic than it is. And the stuff with the hallucinogenics is really well done.
    The remake pissed me off as much as The Hitcher and TCM remakes, because it was everything that made it stand out in the first place.

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