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The 100




Sorority House Massacre
(1986)
Reviewed by Tom Panarese
Rating: 9.5 Beans

attended my first wedding for people my own age about a year after my college graduation. That was a surreal experience, because watching the ceremony didn't feel like watching a ceremony. It felt kind of watching a grade school play--you know, when there are two people up on stage in front of you and they're "pretending" to do whatever it is they are doing.

"Sorority House Massacre" has this feel to it. During the 75 minutes or so I subjected myself to this less-than-classic slasher flick, I couldn't help think that I wasn't watching a slasher flick. I was watching a bunch of kids put on a play wherein they pretended they were in a slasher flick.

In an homage to the eerie hospital scenes in movies such as "Friday the 13th" (and something that makes me think that perhaps the writers of "Alias" have seen this movie), "Sorority House Massacre" opens at the end of the narrative--the main character, Beth (Angela O'Neill) telling the sorority house mother what happened. In other words, she's already been attacked, killed the attacker, and been rescued, sparing the viewer from the edge-of-your-seat "who will get out alive" question that is mandatory for a 1980s slasher flick.

At any rate, Beth's flashback is a plot that borrows from slasher classics such as "Halloween." The massacre in the film's title occurs at the Theta Omega Theta house, where Beth is staying with her friends Linda (Wendy Martel), Sara (Pamela Ross), and Tracy (Nicole Rio) on a weekend where every other sister living in the house has decided to take off for parts unknown. While the girls try on their rich sister's clothes and provide gratuitous T&A, Beth is downtrodden. See, she's been having these weird nightmares where she's in the house but it's not the sorority house. It's some family's house. And everyone's dead. And there is someone coming to get her. And every single one of the other girls is taking some psych class that clues us in to what the dreams might possibly mean!

Of course, across the city is a mental institution where Robert Henkel is being closely guarded. See, about thirteen years ago, Bobby (not a terrifying name for a crazed murderer) killed his entire family except for his sister Laura. Since then he's been pretty much catatonic, except for lately. Lately, he's been going crazy. Well, he is crazy, but you know what I mean.

Do you think it has something to do with Beth going to the Theta house and having nightmares? Do you think Beth actually might BE Laura?

Don't worry, you figure that one out about 20 minutes into the movie.

This mental institution, by the way, has what is possibly the worst security I have ever seen. I think Mr. Henkel would have had a harder time escaping from Disney World than this place. I mean, all he does is knock a guard out, run down the hall, and climb a fence to get out. Then, he goes where any crazed psychopath looking to recreate the murder of his family would go--the hardware store. He kills the owner, then steals someone's car, and night falls on the Theta house.

You know what that means. That's right, the fraternity guys show up, start screwing with the girls to get them all riled up because they have been sitting around and telling ghost stories! Then they get to the literal meaning of the verb in the last sentence, and then they die.

The body count, which is about 7, is nothing to be proud of for a slasher flick, and for the most part, the rest of the movie is pretty standard. Thankfully, it's short enough that I wasn't lulled to sleep in what was supposed to be the high point of the action. There's not much to be learned here (that is, if you're one of the kids in "Scream" who is watching slasher movies as a tutorial for staying alive), either. Okay, we do learn that escaped psychopaths are not familiar with the phrase "when you see this teepee a rockin' don't come a knockin'," but that's about it.

And if you want my real assessment, I think the people in this movie deserved to die. Not due to their stupidity, although going into a dark basement when the power's been cut isn't exactly a genius move. I'm talking about the female characters' fashion sense here. Beth looks like Courteney Cox circa the "Dancing in the Dark" video and dresses like the girl in "Just One of the Guys" when she's trying to be just one of the guys. One of the girls (Laura, I believe) has the exact same haircut as the mom from "Mr. Belvedere," and none of them seem to know anything about wearing a bra. Okay, maybe that last one isn't that bad of a thing, but when you see the clothes the girls are trying on in the special, extra-long "trying on clothes" montage about 10 minutes into the movie, you know no amount of boob is going to let you ignore the fact that their clothes are rejects from the wardrobe department of "The Golden Girls."

The movie is a mess, something only for rent by over-horny 13-year-old boys and guys who have decided to review it for websites like this.






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