Beth, a prospective pledge, spends the weekend with her fellow coeds’ at their Theta Omega Theta sorority house. With most of the sorority sisters, and their house mother, on vacation, Beth and her three friends have the house to themselves. But, what is supposed to be memorable Memorial Day holiday turns into murderous mayhem as an escaped lunatic slashes through the θΩθ sisterhood.  

Bloody Rundown

Written and directed by Carol Frank, who was an assistant director on The Slumber Party Massacre (1982), Sorority House Massacre is a campy slasher that is part of the ‘80s and early ‘90s Massacre Collection. The plot is a knock-off of Halloween (1978), but it is a worthwhile view for those who relish old-school clichéd slahers. For all its flaws, the film delivers ample scenes of stabbing, topless sorority sisters, and an authentic mid-‘80s fashion montage.  The film also launched the career of horror movie maven, Vinnie Bilancio.  sorority 8Still, the one-dimensional characters are so intolerably stupid. It’s astounding that as collegians they continuously miss several opportunities to escape the insane adversary, Bobby. The film also hinges on too many coincidences, and is plagued with innumerable gaffes.

Sorority House Massacre 3The most ludicrous aspect of the film, however, is the crux of the plot. Additionally, the film relies too much on dream sequences and flashbacks, which are more irritating than eerie. It is no wonder executive producer Roger Corman remains uncredited.

I do not entirely fault Carol Frank for her contrived B-horror as it was her first and only film in this male-dominated genre. (Surely there were backers altering her vision and dictating production.) After almost thirty years, there is still hope that Ms. Frank will return to filmmaking, perhaps with a redeemable slasher titled “Fraternity House Massacre.”

sorority 9

Die-Anne’s Diatribe

I only recommend for those who love 80s slashers. Ironically, if Carol Frank added more clichés the film might actually have been more interesting. A prerequisite for most teenage horrors usually includes a party scene and a mean girl.

 

sorority 10An empty sorority house is a perfect setting for a college bash, and the character of Cindy, the sorority snob, should have been developed into a costarring role.

I also find it terribly incongruous that coeds would choose to watch TV, during a power outage, mind you, when they have access to a cabinet full of liquor. The film is totally illogical. The filmmakers couldn’t even get the pledge protocol correct. Sororities pledge during the fall, not the end of the school year. I mean, doesn’t everyone know that?!

Plot Mutilator

The film begins with Beth recovering in a hospital bed and explaining to Mrs. Lawrence, Theta Omega Theta’s house mother, that the tragedy began when she arrived.  Beth’s aunt, who had raised her since the age of five, had recently passed away.  sorority 6 So, for the Memorial Day weekend, Beth decides to stay with her friends at their sorority as many of the sisters, as well as Mrs. Lawrence, are going out of town. 

The four coeds bond over eating ice cream, trying on sorority sister Cindy’s fancy wardrobe, and drinking gin cocktails out of coffee mugs.       Sorority House 14 Throughout her stay, Beth is tormented with nightmares and hallucinations. Unbeknownst to her, she lived in that house until she was five when her brother murdered her entire family. 

Shaken by the oddities of her repressed memories, the sorority sisters try to psychoanalyze her with a dream interpretation book.

Meanwhile Bobby, Beth’s deranged brother, has a sixth sense that his sister has returned to their childhood home. He kills a nurse’s aide, escapes the Peligro Valley State Mental Hospital, steals a hunting knife from a hardware store, and, subsequently murders the owner. Then, like Michael Myers, Bobby steals a station wagon and sets off to finish off his sole surviving sister.

Sorority House 12 Decorations, such as a tipi and banner, are delivered to the sorority house as Sara intends to put the “wow” back in the sorority’s “pow wow.” Bobby, Andy, and Craig, the sisters’ boyfriends, arrive, bringing John as a date for Beth. The girls greet their suitors in perfect unison. 

Bobby soon departs for a whitewater-rafting trip while the remaining group retreats to the living room for a ghost story and beer. John relays the story of the murders that took place in the house fourteen years ago. Beth is overcome with fear and, inexplicably, decides to go to bed. She then has another nightmarish premonition and tells the group that a knife that is hidden in the fireplace. And, sure enough, they find a blood-stained knife. 

Sorority House Massacre 4Andy then leaves as he is late for work and customers “need their cookies.” He is then stabbed by Bobby who is now stalking the sorority. Still traumatized, Beth allows Linda, a psych major, to hypnotize her. Beth recollects hiding in the basement as Bobby tried to stab her.  She does not wake at Linda’s signal of “1, 2, 3,” alarming all. Once she finally snaps out of it, Tracy and Craig go outside to the yet-to-be-erected tipi. Craig assures Tracy that he “can get it up,” and as they are getting it on, Bobby stabs Tracy to death. 

sorority 11Craig then runs into the upstairs of the house, naked, and warns Sara and Linda about the murder of Tracy.  They try to call the police, yet both the house line and Cindy’s private line have been cut. They cry out to Beth and John who are now asleep on the sofa. 

Bobby stabs John, then chases Beth upstairs. They block the bedroom door with a dresser and use a fire ladder to escape from the window. Craig climbs down and steadies the ladder while Linda descends. He is then stabbed by Bobby who then climbs up the ladder chasing Linda. Once she safely returns through the window, Beth and Sara detach the ladder and Bobby falls. 

sorority house 15They try to leave, but Andy, who is dying, tumbles through the front door. The three return to the bedroom; and in a feat so phenomenal, Bobby, who has recovered from his fall, jumps through the second-story window. They escape downstairs through the backdoor only to encounter the ever-so agile Bobby.

Sara trips over Tracy’s corpse, giving Bobby ample time to stab her. Linda and Beth flee back into the house to the front door, which is now locked from the inside without a key. They the hide in the basement where Beth not only remembers Mrs. Lawerence’s instructions that an extra key is in the basement, but also remembers hiding from her brother as a five-year old. All the pieces come together; her memory is now fluid. sorority 7They grab the key, along with a hoe and a shovel to use as weapons.  Bobby follows them into the basement, but is knocked with the shovel. They run upstairs as Bobby pursues them, targeting his sister.  Linda persistently hits him, and the floor, with a shovel. He finally collapses, and in a classic slasher move, they think he is dead, turn their backs, and slowly stumble toward the door.  But, alas, Bobby is not dead.  He lunges toward Linda and stabs her in the back. 

Sirens ensue as Dr. Lindsey has alerted Detective Gilbert that Bobby has probably returned to his family home. And in the best kill of the entire film, Beth manages to grab the original murder weapon and stab Bobby from the back of the neck through his throat.  The moral of the story:  Be weary of the sorority.

Deadly Details

Director ∞ Carol Frank
Producer ∞ Ron Diamond 
Screenwriter ∞ Carol Frank
Music ∞ Michael Wetherwax  
Cinematographer ∞ Marc Reshovsky 
Editor ∞ Jeff Wishengrad  
Distributor ∞ Concorde Pictures
Release Date ∞ October 1986
Running time ∞ 74 minutes
Country ∞ United States
Language ∞ English
 
Cast ∞
Angela O’Neill as Beth 
Wendy Martel as Linda 
Pamela Ross as Sara 
Nicole Rio as Tracy 
John C. Russell as Bobby 
Marcus Vaughter as Andy 
Vinnie Bilancio as John 
Joe Nassi as Craig 
Mary Anne as Mrs. Lawrence 
Gillian Frank as Dr. Lindsey 
Joseph Mansier as Technician 
Axel Roberts as Larry   
Fitzhough Huston as Detective Gilbert   
Marsha Carter as the Nurse 
Maureen Hawkes as Professor 
Alan Eugster as Night Orderly 
Phyllis Frank as a Teacher 
Thomas R. Mustin as Steve 
Susan Bollman as Cindy 
Ray Spinka as Shop Owner 
Gale Hammer as Gas Station Woman   
Todd Darling as U-Hauler 
Jon Hofferman as U-Helper 
Patrick Fahey as Policeman 
Bob Moore as Policeman 
Hillary Hollingsworth as Laura 
Aimee Brooks as Cathy 
Kara Joy as Janet 
Ivory Berry as Susan 
Shirley Aldrige as Mother 
Scott Martin as Father