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Elite Entertainment presents

The House On Sorority Row (1983)

"You will pack your things and leave! You're disgraces to this house!"- Mrs. Slater (Lois Kelso Hunt)

Stars: Kathryn McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Lois Kelso Hunt
Other Stars: Ellen Dorsher, Jodi Draigie
Director: Mark Rosnan

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, gore, language, some nudity)
Run Time: 01h:31m:14s
Release Date: 2000-11-28
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-A-B C-


DVD Review

The 'slasher' film was serious business in the 1980's, so as a result there were endless Halloween and Friday The 13th clones. Unfortunately, this meant superior films sometimes got lost in the chaos of so many similar movies. The House On Sorority Row is one of those superior flicks. That's not to say it'll blow you away, but when compared to a lot of slasher flicks, it is shows more style and craft.

The story begins with a group of sorority sisters about to graduate from college. They're moving out of their college house, but also planning a farewell party. Unfortunately, their sorority mother is the rather mean and insane Mrs. Slater. Early in the film, it is hinted at that Slater's mind is slowly going downhill due to a traumatic child birth incident she endured many years earlier. The child was born dead, and she has been bitter ever since. In any case, Mrs. Slater decides to try and shut down the house ahead of schedule, leaving the girls without a place to party. Angry over the whole affair, the girls put together an elaborate prank to get even with Mrs. Slater, but it goes bad and winds up killing her. The group decide to keep her death a secret and go on with their party and continue their lives as normal. It would appear, however, that the 'deceased' Mrs. Slater has a different idea, for she seemingly comes back to life to exact revenge.

Despite the film's title and the cover image of a scantily clad female writhing in fear, the movie is very far removed from the typical "teens getting hacked" routine. The girls here are portrayed in a much more normal light, and the overpowering sex usually found in these films is almost totally absent. These aren't quite the same kind of shallow, poorly acted, young characters we usually witness. In fact, the acting is pretty decent, and despite the setting, the movie avoids many horror genre clichés. The whole thing is actually well crafted with some moments of genuine fear and suspense, not to mention good camera work and creative death scenes.

Obviously, the film has problems, mainly with the storyline and the basic premise, but then those are always problems with these kinds of movies. I'd be willing to bet, though, that it will surprise even the most jaded viewer of typical slasher stuff. There is obviously the will to go further here and make something not quite as cheesy or predictable. Also, there isn't quite as much violence in this film, or, more accurately, the gore is conservative so that the style and flair of a murder is much more interesting than how easily it makes you want to puke.

In the end, you could do a lot worse than this movie if you've got a horror film craving. It delivers the goods without being silly or dumb, and it certainly fares better than modern slasher films like the Scream trilogy. If nothing else, it will at least teach you not to perform pranks on your psychotic sorority mother, incase you were actually thinking of doing that.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Although the opening credits are a bit grainy and rough, the movie itself settles nicely into a rich, deep, and colorful image that's extremely well rendered. The natural tone of the movie is brought out well by the 16:9 enhancement, and the source print is in very good condition. There are no signs of compression artifacts or any pixelization, though a few speckles and scratches appear in rare moments. The most noticeable aspect of the visuals are the warm colors that look gorgeous in this transfer. This is definitely archival quality and fits the cult aspect of this film well.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The Pro-Logic Mono soundtrack does the job, but doesn't really go much beyond that. Dialogue and sound are all completely understandable and clear. The only portions that really work out the audio are the sorority party sequences that feature a really awful 1980's pop band. Otherwise, it sounds fine and I don't think any enhancement would have really made a difference.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Other than the original trailer, nothing else adorns this disc. Of course, I don't know what would have really rounded off the package, but fans might be a tad disappointed. My only real complaint is a lack of a keepcase insert, which is usually pretty standard.

Extras Grade: C-

Final Comments

This film will surprise even die-hard fans of the genre with it's subtle pacing and clever, but humorous, ways of getting scares out of viewers. It's a shame this director never moved on to anything more high-profile. Recommended for rental.

Dan Lopez 2000-12-10