Ah, the magic life of a sorority sister. Parties, glamour, popularity, the pranks. One of my favorite tales of sorority prank misfires is Mark Rosman's hugely underrated gem The House on Sorority Row. It's suspenseful, thrilling, well crafted, and above all, classy. Yes, the recent film Sorority Row was a loose remake of this film, but I'll probably be discussing that film pretty soon, so we should probably just focus on the original for today.
The film begins with a blue tinted flashback in which it appears that a woman has had severe complications during a house call birth and has lost her child.
Cut to several years later and Mrs. Slater (Lois Kelso Hunt), the same woman from the flashback, in that same house, is now the house mother for a group of sorority girls who have just graduated and are planning on having one last huge party to celebrate.
Let's take inventory, shall we?
First up is good girl Katherine (soulful Kate McNeil). Katie is sweet, virtuous and just all around nice. We should also feel sorry for her because her mother sports this ridiculous hairdo...
It couldn't have been easy on poor Katie all those years.
Next is Vicki (sex kitten Eileen Davidson) who just reeks of sex and leadership. Bad girl all the way!
The rest are not quite as well developed but we do have...
Morgan, the drunk who has about 3 lines (which she mumbles)
Liz, the tag along; Stevie, the smart one training to be a flight attendant
Jeanie, the emotional one who literally shrieks "Eeeek!" every time she's scared
Diane, the sarcastic one (LOVE her!)
All of these gals are actually quite interesting for the most part. I like 'em!
Mrs. Slater has been talking to the same sketchy doctor from the prologue, let's call him Sketchy McDoctor. So, Sketchy McDoctor keeps telling Mrs. Slater all of these things that don't really make sense about how she needs to take it easy and stuff, but she's pretty set in her ways.
Once Mrs. Slater learns about the party plans, she has quite a fit, which leads to a great scene where she intrudes on Vicki and her kinda creepy pedo-looking boyfriend in the throes of passion and splits her waterbed in two with her sharp bird tipped cane. It's all sorts of awesome.
Vicki vows that she'll get back at Slater, so she stages an elaborate prank that...well, you know these pranks always end up with someone dead. So, Slater is accidentally shot by Vicki and the girls have to hide her corpse in the water while the guests for the party start to arrive.
As the party kicks off, and boy, does it ever, the girls realize that someone might try to go swimming or turn on the pool lights. Luckily for them, the body has somehow been removed from the pool.
As one can imagine, the rest of the film is all about the girls pointing fingers, losing fingers, and going bonkers a.k.a. Heaven on a Stick!
The party itself is a cheese lover's dream. Check out the lead singer of the band.
Baby, no, just... no.
There's also a random death involving some dude who appears to just be fiddling about in the bushes. Filler much?
Um... do I know you?
One most also note the infamous "Sea Pig" scene, which is by far one of the most random and mind-numbing WTF moments in cinema history.
"I'm a Sea Pi..." "Nope, just a creepy fat ass!"
Let me now take the time to turn the spotlight on the REAL hero of this film. Peter (Michael Kuhn) is one of my favorite slasher characters of all time. So, why haven't we heard of him you might be asking? Y'know, I'm not sure.
Peter couldn't be a nicer guy if he tried. He's about as optimistic and charming as a Julie Andrews film festival during the Christmas holidays. Poor Peter just can't catch a break. Vicki sets him up on a blind date with Katie for the party, which sounds like a match made in heaven, but by the time they meet, Katie's got an awful lot on her mind, y'know with helping to kill her house mother and all. Peter just sort of mopes around for the rest of the film, like a lost puppy, trying to cheer Katie up, but he keeps getting rejected.
Once he's out of the picture, or so we think, he returns, only to get a shoulder full of sedative from Sketchy McDoctor. There he lies for the rest of the climax, passed out next to a bunch of party decorations. At least he survives.
To make a long story short, I love Peter and want to father his children. Who wouldn't! He kinda rules.
"Did you ever know that you're my hero!"
It's hard to write a review on this movie, cause I really don't want to spoil much. The movie is actually good. Not even kidding. Really. I'm not joking.
Once the finale rolls around, it just keeps getting weirder and trippier as Katie starts hallucinating and Sketchy McDoctor shows back up.
The ending is a bit of a let down as it just sort of...ends. Y'know? When movies just sort of END. For no reason. It's one of those movies. Still, everything else up to that point is stellar. I can't praise it enough. It has suspense, style, good acting, and a few grisly moments. The whole thing is class act! The music score by Richard Band, of Re-Animator fame, is one of the best, most melodic, ever written for a slasher. It's awesome.
BTW, I certainly can't be the only guy out there who, at times, wishes he could channel his inner sorority bitch and tell someone off, diva style! Or am I? Really? I'm all alone? Oh, well...
9 out of 10 bloody bird tipped canes!