Directed By Mark Rosman
Distributed by Scorpion Releasing
“To Mrs. Slater- the House Mother to end all House Mothers!”
Set during the most dangerous time in cinema for nubile sorority girls- the early 1980’s- The House on Sorority Row follows the sisters of Pi Theta who decide to play a prank on their overbearing house mother Mrs. Slater (Kelso Hunt) who wants to put the kibosh on a kegger the girls are planning on throwing at the house.
But when the prank goes awry (as they always do) and the girls accidentally kill Mrs. Slater (or do they?), the Pi Theta’s rally together and do their best to hide their mistake; however, as some of the sisters begin to go missing, the House Mother’s past come to light, proving that no one can ever truly bury the past.
Without a doubt, House on Sorority Row has a certain charm to it after almost 30 years since its initial release. It’s a flick I haven’t seen in about fifteen years and there was something oddly comforting about revisiting it once again on recently released Two-Disc Special Edition DVD. That may be because there’s very little new or surprising happening in House on Sorority Row, with all of the key slasher elements being included by director Mark Rosman- there’s the sadistic mother figure and the slasher-stereotype victims are all accounted for as well. The flick also has a handful of often gory kills (many of the early kills play off-screen but the later ones let the gore flow), the well-meaning love interest who is put into jeopardy during the film’s final act and the usual revelation of a dark past for an integral character.
But despite all its familiarity, there are also a few surprising elements that Rosman has incorporated into his story that helps elevate House on Sorority Row so it doesn’t feel entirely like a movie we’ve seen a zillion times before. The prank sequence is still effective and jarring and Mrs. Slater’s backstory is delightfully creepy and the third act doesn’t quite play out in the usual slasher fashion (with a killer psychedelic drug-induced sequence that features some rather unnerving choreography of all the victims of the film) which should be applauded.
That being said, House on Sorority Row does have a few flaws working against it including a few of the early kills being a bit underwhelming and a bit of a lag in the movie during the first and second acts. The band scenes are pretty silly and both the fashion and music certainly dates House on Sorority Row but overall, the sum of its flaws isn’t enough to drag down the slasher flick as a whole.
For this two-disc remastered DVD release of House on Sorority Row, both Scorpion Releasing and Katarina’s Nightmare Theater have carried over the extras (minus the remix) featured on the 2003 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD release and to give fans something more this time around, they’ve also produced several of their own bonus features. Carried over from the earlier release is an audio commentary track featuring actresses Kate McNeil and Eileen Davidson as well as director Rosman with the trio providing an entertaining track reminiscing about the shoot and poking good-natured fun at themselves and the film as well.
You can also watch House on Sorority Row in “Katarina’s Nightmare Theater” if you’ve seen the film a few times before and want to experience the slasher flick within a new and entertaining context. There’s also a few trailers, a TV spot, an interview with co-star Harley Jane Kozak (who I personally have always loved based on her work in films like Arachnophobia and Necessary RoughnessHouse on Sorority Row. Pretty much anything a fan of the film would want is presented here and it’s clear that those behind this presentation knew how to treat the classic sorority slasher flick and it’s fans right with the bonus content.
The Scorpion transfer on House on Sorority Row boasts of a brand new HD-mastered transfer from the original internegative and indeed, the movie looks infinitely better than I ever remember it looking on VHS. Sure, the prologue scene is still murky as hell but overall, the image quality is pretty great and the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is crisp and clean as well.
Longtime fans should be pleased this definitive presentation of House on Sorority Row as it seems unlikely that anyone will ever be able to giving fans anything superior than what Scorpion has concocted here. While dated at times, this 1983 slasher flick still has a lot going for it despite Rosman’s mostly formulaic approach and while not incredibly scary, House on Sorority Row still remains creepy and clever even with the passing of a few decades.
If House on Sorority Row is a title you’ve been meaning to add to your personal collection, you’ll definitely want to pick up Scorpion’s latest re-release of the film as both discs will keep longtime fans entertained for quite a few hours upon viewing. And if you’ve never experienced the horrors of what happened that fateful evening at the Pi Theta House, this would definitely be an excellent introduction.
House on Sorority Row Two-Disc Special Edition Includes:
- Watch this in “Katarina’s Nightmare Theater” format with our hostess Katarina Leigh Waters or play feature only
- Brand New 16×9 widescreen (1:78) HD master from the original IN
- Brand New Audio Commentary with Director Mark Rosman moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters
- Bonus Commentary with Stars Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson and Director Mark Rosman
- On-camera interview with co-star Harley Jane Kozak
- TV spot
- Three Theatrical Trailers
- Storyboard Comparisons
- Photo Gallery
- Alternate Ending info
- Kat’s Eyes: On camera interview segment conducted by Katarina Leigh Waters with star Kate McNeil, with star Eileen Davidson and with Director Mark Rosman
- On-camera interview with composer Richard Band
- On-camera interview with co-producer Igo Kantor
3 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5