Arriving on Blu-ray for the first time in a gorgeous looking transfer is the 1983 cult classic "The House on Sorority Row". Indie distributor Scorpion Releasing excels with a great restoration of the film from print negatives and delivers a loaded 2 disc special edition filled with hours of new special features that packs everything that fans of the film would want into a sharp looking package.
When a group of graduating sorority sisters decide to stay at their house in order to throw one last raging school finishing party to celebrate their matriculation, they run afoul of the house’s owner Mrs Slater who wants them to leave for her own suspicious reasons. The girls decide to play a prank on her, but it goes horribly awry with deadly consequences. Panicking, the girls try to hide the body. But they have already unleashed a terrible force of vengeance that seeks to end the girls partying ways, permanently, at the end of Mrs Slater`s razor sharp cane.
The House on Sorority Row owes a lot to the films it clearly emulates to be, "Black Christmas" is the obvious main influence on director Mark Rosman’s tale of revenge, but he certainly crafts his tale well enough to deliver a solid film in its own right. There really is no doubt as to how the events will unfold, this follows the "Halloween" school of murder and discovery to the letter, but the film manages to remain fun enough to keep the viewer engaged to the end. The fact that all the murder and mayhem is all occurring around the sorority house while there is a live band and full out party happening in the living room is an outlandish setup that leads to some of the films more comedic elements while also cutting of the girls from one another in the crowd. In fact, the influence this film has had on writer Kevin Williamson and his "I Know What You Did Last Summer" films years later will be glaringly evident to anybody watching this for the first time.
The performances here are pretty much what you would expect, most of the girls went on to either do soap opera runs or completely disappear other than Harley Jane Kozak, who had a small string of hit films she co-stared in back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, and final girl Kathryn McNeil who still works in the business today. Harley and Kathryn are good here, as is the diva of the piece Eileen Davidson, and while rest of the sisters rank from just okay to forgettable it’s the original villain of the piece, Lois Kelso Hunt as Mrs Slater, that lags behind. Her performance is dull, wooden and quite indistinguishable from her scenes as a corpse. Thankfully the real killer, despite never being unmasked, still carries some great screen presence.
The film looks gorgeous, the cinematography and camera work are excellent and the transfer is pristine, making this version of The House on Sorority Row likely the best it has ever looked. The disc comes with interviews with main cast and crew, 2 separate commentaries, alternate footage and details about director’s Rosman’s far superior original ending that the studio would not allow and much more. The sound remains in its original mono configuration, but fans of the film should still clamor to buy this cult classic of 80’s slasher films.At the very least it should help drive the bad memories of the awful remake from 2009 far away.
3 ½ out of 5
You can also subscribe to all my Examiner postings and check out my profile Here!