Horror Becomes Her - Sorority House Massacre (1986)
Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching.
I certainly could not have been alone to expect that this was some sort of sequel to the similarly Slumber Party Massacre. And the movies are similar in many superficial ways. They’re both slashers in which the (mostly) female victims are picked off one by one. And that’s where the resemblance ends. The cheesy title belies how much this movie actually tries to delve into the main theme of trauma that the main character Beth (Angela O’Neill) is experiencing. It doesn’t necessarily go beyond a surface level of analysis, but the fact that we get an actual character makes her more sympathetic and gives us a neat connection to how the killer gets involved in her life through a psychic link.
Most of the beginning of the movie is slow-paced and full of the awkward, stilted acting that I now expect most of these movies to have. It really picks up when the murders start happening although, again, it seems that since the killer is outnumbered considerably, it would have been feasible for one or more of them to escape even though he picks them off one by one. But for the most part, the people are actually sensible and work together and the killer mostly kills people when they are the most vulnerable, making this one of the more believable, less campy slashers I have seen so far.
The movie is very similar to Halloween as many have rightly pointed out, but doesn’t quite have the charismatic leading lady that Jamie Leigh Curtis was or Carpenter’s tight direction or the memorable score for that matter. Yet it works as a basic thriller. (Also, Corman’s influence seems to have been a bit less pronounced here since the nudity is actually quite limited.)