SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE
Years active: 1986 - 1992; plus unreleased sequel in 2003.
About the franchise:
Surprised I'm not reviewing THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE franchise here instead? Well, I figured I go with this sister-series, produced by the same company (Concorde-New Horizons) and executive (Roger Corman, who kept his name of screen in both series), and which features SPM in both entries as though they were, indeed, sorority film sisters.
The original 1986 film was a late in coming slasher, produced after the huge success of the VHS release SPM in 1985. Although SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE was picked up by Warner Bros. (!), it did not receive the same amount of fan-fare as it step-sibling, though it did receive some critical praise for director Carol Frank's imaginative visuals, setting this otherwise typical format (crazy escapes from the asylum and stalks the girls in his old home) apart from other films of the era. Corman instead went on to pump out SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II in 1987. (SHM, btw, shows scenes from the original SPM on a television set in several scenes.)
SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II was actually shot in 1990 by director Jim Wynorski as NIGHTIE NIGHTMARE back-to-back with his equally questionable HARD TO DIE using the same "plot" and much of the cast. However, NIGHTIE went unreleased until 1992 until it was retitled and repackaged as SHM II, following the minor success of SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III. SHM II, fyi, was filmed on the same set as SPM III. Are you following? As such, a film franchise was born, but the two SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE films are completely unrelated , and in fact SHM II uses clips from SLUMBER PARTY #1 as "flashback" footage. Are you still following?
While the original SHM seemed to disappear from public awareness (not that there was much to begin with), SHM II unexpectedly gained a solid cult following as a result of its repeated airings on paid cable and made its lead Robyn Harris (a.k.a. Gail Harris) into a minor b-celeb.
In 2003 Jim Wynorski directed another unrelated film that at one point was titled SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE III. The film has never been released.
Both SHM films were released to DVD in 2000 through Concorde, but have not been available to the public since.
Other connecting factors:
1. None really. Different storylines, different characters, different crew, different locations. Roger Corman is the only link between the two films.
Famous / Successful Actors from this series:
1. Melissa Moore (SHM II) - Although mostly known for her work in b-movies, Moore scored significant roles in the action film INTO THE SUN, DA VINCI'S WAR and comedy REPOSSESSED.
2. Peter Spellos (SHM II) - Often transitioning between A and B movies, some of Spellos's bigger titles include MEN IN BLACK II, CITY OF ANGELS, FREDDY'S DEAD, and TV shows like NEWS RADIO, TWO GUYS A GIRL & A PIZZA PLACE, and MARRIED WITH CHILDREN.
SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE (1986)
College freshman Beth (Angela O'Neill) has eerie dreams of blood and dismemberment throughout her new sorority house digs. As her friends party the night away, each begins meeting a gruesome end at the hands of a madman recently escaped from the mental institution. It turns out Beth has a direct connection not only to the psycho, but the house itself.
I say "yes." It closely follows the standard slasher mold with all the same trappings and expectations, but it finds it's stand-out quality in some truly haunting visuals. The pace is a bit slow at times, particularly the middle section, but the cast is quite likeable, there is some minor suspense and a few jump scares. It won't change your world, and there's nothing here that's really all that different from other films of its ilk, but if you're a slasher fan you should find it "harmless" and entertaining.
SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II (1992)
A group of lusty busty sorority babes move into an old mansion ready to clean it up and make repairs and instead wind up splattered all over it. Is it the creepy guy across the street, or the ghost of the home's former owner who massacred (hey!) his entire family there years ago?
Does it hold up today?
Well, if pure cheese is what you have a taste for, then yes. This is tongue-in-cheek horror humor. None of it is taken seriously (evident the moment the girls appear on screen all slutted up and then decide fairly soon into the proceedings to change into their Victoria's Secret lingerie - because that's what all sorority girls wear to bed). The acting ranges from really rough to passable. There are a few jumps. The bloodshed is more of the 'Karo Syrup thrown at the actresses' variety vs. actual make up fx. Lead girl Robyn (Gail) Harris is actually quite good and very into her role, and red-herring Peter Spellos (as "Orville Ketchum") is super icky. The cast plays along, aware that they are in the midst of a camp-fest, so if all you're looking for is mind-numbing antics, then there are worse ways to spend 80 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.