Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sorority House Massacre (Carol Frank, 1986)

Even though Sorority House Massacre brings absolutely nothing new to the well-worn formula established by John Carpenter's Halloween way back in the late 1970s, it's still, I must say, a pretty effective slasher flick. Wait, did I just say, "slasher flick"? I meant to say, fashion... flick. We're talking baggy jean jackets, winklepicker boots and the mother of all movie dress-up montages. Oh, don't get me wrong, the film is still a minor horror classic along the lines of House on Sorority Row and Happy Birthday to Me, it's just that the only reason for anyone (i.e. me) to watch this film is to study the fashion. Take, for example, Angela O'Neill's baggy jean jacket. I vaguely remember when teenage girls and some grown women started wearing baggy jean jackets, and I remember being vaguely horrified... you know, by the sheer bagginess of it all. I am, of the opinion, that jean jackets should fit snugly against the body and should never hang too far below the waist. Well, not only does Angela O'Neill's jean jacket break all these rules, she roles up the sleeves, exposing the inner denim. I know, the horror. While it might sound like I'm ragging on her jean jacket game, I'm actually reveling in its awfulness to a point unseen in any previous review of Sorority House Massacre. Anyway, do you remember the killer in the eerily similar Slumber Party Massacre? Now that guy knows the proper way to rock a jean jacket.

Now, you would think I would have nothing but praise for Pamela Ross and her pointy winklepicker-style boots, as they are pretty much my favourite shoes/boots in the whole wide world. However, I have to question the clothes she wears with said pointy winklepicker-style boots. Or do I? After giving it some thought, I've decided to get behind Pamela Ross' decision to pair her Goth footwear with bright and breezy new wave mall threads.

I mean, think about it. While her feet are practically screaming, "Undead, undead!" the rest of her ensemble looks like something Cyndi Lauper would wear on a cruise. Sporting a pink blazer paired with a tropical fruit-themed, mid-riff exposing two piece (a white headband and a funky necklace are added to the mix to create even more drama on campus), Pamela Ross' look signaled to me that her character was worth rooting for.

Sadly, the chances that Pamela Ross will be breathing on her own by the time the end credits start to roll are not that high. While the film may be lacking when it comes to originality and character development, it lives up to its title. Meaning, there's going to be a massacre at a sorority house. And if a character shows an interest in fashion or sexual intercourse, odds are they're going to get their stylish/horny asses massacred.

As for mopey asexuals with an affinity for loose-fitting denim, they're probably going to not get stabbed to death. Which is totally unfair, because they're the reason everyone is killed in this movie. Okay, that was a tad on the harsh side. But seriously, if she had just gotten murdered when she was five years old along with the rest of her family, all this sorority house madness could have been avoided.

However, since there would be no movie had Angela O'Neill's Beth not survived her brother Bobby's killing spree (and we wouldn't want there to be no movie), I'll let it go... for now.

While it's obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that work to some degree that Beth is repressing the memory of her families slaughter at the hands of her deranged brother, she seems to think that the person stalking her in her dreams is just some random psychopath. Unbeknownst to her, this "random psychopath" is all too real and languishing at a poorly run mental hospital just down the road from sorority row.

As Bobby is planning his escape, co-eds, Sara (Pamela Ross), Tracy (Nicole Rio) and Linda (Wendy Martel) are planning to engage in the ultimate dress-up montage. With their house mother away for the weekend, the girls decide to raid her closet. And oh my god, do they raid the living shit out of it.

You know how when you see a parody of the 1980s nowadays and they always seem to go overboard in terms of its 80s-ness? Well, the dress-up montage in Sorority House Massacre is so 80s that even the 80s was like: Whoa, tone it down, girls. Screw the 80s, I was even shocked by how insanely 80s this sequence was.

The only thing that dampens the mood is the fact that the camera occasionally cuts to gloomy Beth, who is watching the dress-up extravaganza from a nearby bed. Yeah, I get it. She's having nightmares about being killed by a knife-wielding maniac, and is a little too preoccupied to care about clothes. But does she have to ruin it for everyone else? I mean, it's the 1980s. You're supposed to try on brightly coloured clothes to the synthesizer music... it's in the decade's freakin' charter.

After they're done playing dress-up, Pamela Ross' Sara dons a shirt that pretty much solidifies the film's standing as a fashion classic. An ill-defined patchwork of shapes and colours, Sara's shirt dominates the film's final third with a breathtaking ease. Worn with black leggings, the shirt not only dominates, it upstages the other actors. Now, under  normal circumstances, you would have to classify this as a negative. Seriously, what kind of film is overshadowed by a radiant garment? However, in the case of Sorority House Massacre, the vividness of Sara's shirt makes an otherwise insipid movie less so.

Granted, the shirt is nowhere to be seen when the girls and their lame boyfriends (c'mon, Craig... I mean, jeez) eventually come face-to-face with the killer. But I think most people will agree that the shirt, along with the baggy jean jacket, the pointy boots, and, of course, the dress-up montage are more than enough to override the film's more tiresome bits.

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