Sorority House Massacre I & II (1986 - 90)
By: Devon B. on December 12, 2012 | Comments
[dvd]New Concorde | Region 1, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 151 Minutes[/dvd] (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Carol Frank; Jim Wynorski
Starring: Angela Maegan O'Neill, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross; Robyn Harris, Melissa Moore, Stacia Zhivago, Dana Bentley
Screenplay: Carol Frank; James B. Rogers, Bob Sheridan
Country: USA
External Links
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Despite its suggestive title and cover, I don't think I'd ever seen Sorority House Massacre. I've long been a fan of its sequel, so when I found this disc that had both movies on it that seemed like a good way to get a movie I enjoy plus one that I was curious about. The disc is a double sided DVD, and on side one, strangely enough, is Sorority House Massacre.

The film is about this girl who is sad because her aunt died, so she goes and stays at a sorority house with one of her college friends. She doesn't like the feel of the place, and then has an extended dream sequence about her discomfort. Given something really was about to interrupt the sorority's busy time of sharing clothing and accessories, I thought maybe the girl was psychic and it turns out I was right. She's bonded with the killer, and the lunatic escapes and makes his way to the sorority.

It's no Black Christmas, but since 80s slashers are my second love, after Weird Al Yankovic, I didn't mind Sorority House Massacre. It's got a boring generic set up, bad acting, stupid jokes and cheeeeeeap gore FX, but it's also got a sorority house massacre. The film is formulaic, which was a bit surprising given its clever title, and the slashing proper takes a good long while to happen. I'm also not sure why everyone at the house doesn't just gang up on the killer right away, but they didn't which was fortunate because that left room for…

Sorority House Massacre II… oh, wait, no, there's no connection at all between these movies aside from the title and premise. In fact, when there are flashbacks, they're to Slumber Party Massacre instead, which really confused me the first time I saw Sorority House Massacre II, and it's still a bit confusing because the flashbacks have been narrated to try and make it seem like the killings in Slumber Party Massacre were a father killing his family. This gives the shot where the drill is clearly meant to be a phallic symbol an eerie, incestuous quality, plus the family seemed to be made up of mostly college girls and their crazy dad.

For a complete change of pace, Sorority House Massacre II is about a sorority house being stalked by a killer. Well, not the house itself so much as its inhabitants. Some college girls, who are perhaps a bit older than one might expect sorority sisters to be, have gotten a new sorority house cheap because a family was murdered there. Across the street lurks the man, the legend, Orville Ketchum. He's a standard creepy character, but when it seems like he's started killing the girls the scantily clad heroines retaliate, and Ketchum ends up taking more abuse than Jason Vorhees.

I first saw Sorority House Massacre II on Drive-In Theater, and director Jim Wynorski was a guest. Given my vice like memory for information that will get me nowhere in life, I have retained some facts about the movie. What happened was Wynorski took two days to make a movie called Hard to Die for Roger Corman's wife. Roger was so pleased with the final product that he asked Wynorski to make one for him, too. That's why the two movies are so similar and share so much material, because they're essentially a Corman family his and hers set of films. The unstoppable killer gag culminates better in Hard to Die, but the unstoppable killer feels like a more natural character here in Sorority House Massacre II. Wynorski said the inspiration for the movies was Orville Ketchum, some guy who worked behind the scenes for Corman that Wynorski wanted to get on film. I believed that for years, but realised after I kept seeing him in other movies that it was actor Peter Spellos. I still call him Orville, though.

Like the film it flashes back to, Sorority House Massacre II is a satire, so the girls are all men obsessed clichés, nothing makes any sense and any excuse is a good excuse for a shower. In fact, there's a tag team gratuitous shower scene, and then all the sorority sisters get their tops off. There're fake and real breasts on display, so there is something for everyone, and the film serves as a reminder of that simpler time when gratuitous nudity reigned. The acting quality varies greatly, with the best being almost passable, and the gore FX are even cheaper than those in the first film, but I still enjoy this silly, silly movie.

Maybe neither movie is that great, but for slasher fans that don't take things too seriously the sequel is fun. The slasher satire got overplayed after Scream, but most of the movies that followed in its wake took a highbrow approach to nudity, a foolhardy mistake that Sorority House Massacre II wisely didn't make.
Both films are presented at 1.33:1. The first movie has spots and specks, and grain that can get so strong it makes the camera lens looking dirty. There's also some banding, but the presentation is passable for a low budget slasher. The second film looks unstable during the credits, but turns out okay for such a cheaply made movie. There're spots and specks and the stock footage really stands out.
Both movies have 2.0 mixes that are pretty clear and clean given the films' budgets.
Extra Features
Sorority House Massacre has its Spanish subtitled trailer and trailers for Seduction of Innocence, Emanuelle: First Contact and Slumber Party Massacre, plus bios for Corman and three of the stars. The second film has the Corman bio plus bios for two of the women, Spellos and Wynorski. There's also the trailer and trailers for Slumber Party Massacre 2 and 3 and Emanuelle
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's by no means a definitive edition for either movie, but this DVD may be all there is for a long time to come as I don't know that either film has fans clamouring for a special edition. I loved Sorority House Massacre II when I was 14, and I still like it for its humour. Just its humour. It has nothing to do with the boobies.

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