The House On Sorority Row (1983)

This film was inspired by the 1955 French film Les Diaboliques and was originally titled  Screamer and Seven Sisters by its writer and director Mark Rosman. It also has the alternate title House of Evil, but none of those are as evocative and interesting as The House On Sorority Road.

Vincent Perronio, who often works with John Waters, was the film’s production designer. It was shot in Pikesville, Maryland and used the University of Maryland for its establishing shots. The crew used a house that was being foreclosed on for shooting and discovered two squatters living there, who were hired to be video assistants on the film.

The movie opens with a flashback sequence that was requested by its distributor, Film Ventures. It was shot in black and white, then tinted blue. We see a baby being delivered via c-section, but the mother is told that the child died.

Fast forward to today, as seven sorority sisters are drinking up at their own small graduation party. Katey (Kathryn McNeil, Monkey Shines), Vicki (Eileen Davidson, who went from acting on soap operas to appearing in the real-life soap opera The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), Liz, Jeanie (Pittsburgh’s own Robin Meloy Goldsby, who is now a piano player in Germany), Diane (Harley Jane Kozak, Parenthood) Morgan  and Stevie want to spend a few more weeks in their sorority house before heading out into the real world, but their house mother Mrs. Slater isn’t having any of their shenanigans. 

Seriously, Mrs. Slater is a real pip. For example, when Vicki is batter dipping the corn dog on a water bed with her boyfriend, Slater bursts in and stabs the bed with her walking cane. So that leads to the girls playing a prank — making the old woman jump into the swimming pool to get her cane at gunpoint. There’s a stumble, the gun goes off and the old woman dies. The seven sisters all decide to hide her body in the pool until after their big blowout.

Of course, that’s when the killer shows up, who is Slater’s deformed son Eric. Turns out that doctor from the beginning had given her an illegal fertility drug that led to him turning out like this. So the doctor drugs Katey — our final girl — and tries to kill Eric to cover up his crimes, but Eric easily dispatches him. This leads to a showdown between a clown-costumed maniac — who has even decapitated one of the other girls and left her head in the toilet — and Katey which ends inconclusively.

Film Ventures also asked for the ending, where Katherine is discovered floating dead in the pool, dead at the hands of Eric. They felt like that the ending was too downbeat, so that’s why we got the ending we did, where Katey stabs Eric but his eyes open right before the final credits.

This is a movie filled with not just plenty of murder, but lots of party scenes too. The Washington, DC-based power pop band 4 Out of 5 Doctors shows up to play five of their songs. If you’ve ever seen The Boogeyman, they’re in that too.

Ronin Flix was selling a limited edition blu ray of this film earlier this year, but it’s currently sold out. It’s definitely worth a watch, as it predates films like I Know What You Did Last Summer where the teenagers are as much victimizers as victims.

You can watch this for free on Popcorn Flix or with Rifftrax commentary on Tubi.

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