DECEMBER 19, 2013
Supposedly, Sorority House Massacre II was written and directed in a mere ten days, and thus the easy joke to make would be to wonder what they did with the other nine. It's stiff, poorly acted across the board, and features what has to be a record for kill scenes that play out entirely with shadows and cheapo bladder devices being used to shoot blood all over the wall. But, damn my eyes, I couldn't help but enjoy the shitty little thing. Maybe it's just because I haven't been exposed to as much rubbish in 2013 as I was from 2007-2012? I only get 1-2 movies a week to watch for my Netflix gig, and while they are almost always shitty horror movies (if I was a grading man, this would be a C at best and it was one of the better ones I've seen on their dime), that's still a huge reduction in how often I am exposing myself to "worst movie ever made" material (per IMDb message board users). So, like McDonald's or old man whiskey, I know it's terrible for me, but you gotta indulge every now and then.
I can't recall much about the first film (I couldn't even remember SEEING it until I looked up my own review), but I DO know Slumber Party Massacre pretty well, which left me equally amused and baffled when a character in this movie told Slumber's story via flashback as if it were the events of the first Sorority House Massacre. He also gives Slumber more plot than it actually had, giving a name to its previously unidentified killer (Hokstedter, which wasn't the name of the killer in SHM1, for the record) and claiming that this house that the sorority girls are inhabiting was the scene of his crimes. That we SEE the house in the Slumber footage and it looks absolutely nothing like the one they are in now is something we should probably ignore, I guess.
This character is named Orville Ketchum, and he's played by the lecherous, abusive stepdad from Freddy's Dead - which makes him the only recognizable actor in the movie, pretty much. The movie wants us to think that he's the killer, but with all of the kills occurring off-screen, you know it can't be that easy. Plus, there's a Ouija board sequence in the first act, so you can be assured that the answer is more supernatural based than the first film (of either series, I guess it's fruitless to try to separate them at this point). There's some half-hearted attempt at a twist, but with everything off-screen and Hokstedter's ghost apparently jumping around bodies like Horace Pinker, it doesn't have much of an impact.
However, if you enjoy looking at a variety of breasts, or are just an adolescent young man, the movie will be fondly remembered for years. Just about every female in the cast disrobes, with some of it being more gratuitous than the intentionally over-the-top shower scene in Slumber. There's a wonderful bit where they all run out in the rain in their underwear (no one wears actual clothes after the first 20 minutes or so) and stand around getting soaked while they argue their next move, allowing them to have see through nighties for the rest of the picture.
Needless to say, the movie was directed by Jim Wynorski.
I was also ironically charmed with the movie's ancient stock footage for the storm; I'd have to dig out my copy to be sure but I'd place a small bet on that it was from The Terror (this being a Corman production as well). One of the girls even comments that the raging storm makes her feel like she's in "one of those old horror movies", and I couldn't help but wonder if the film might have been elevated to "genuinely kind of good" had they embraced the spoofy elements more often and went all out. With the notoriously cheap Corman and Wynorski at the helm, it's hard to tell if the fact that they're using another, more famous franchise's footage to flesh out its backstory is supposed to be a joke (sort of like when Airplane spoofs Saturday Night Fever or From Here To Eternity in its flashbacks) or just them trying to save a few bucks and hope that no one noticed or cared.
Another inadvertent benefit of the movie being so cheap and made so quickly is that it's impossible to gauge who the Final Girl is, because the girls only separate when they're going off to die or shower (actually in the latter, one comes in before the other is finished, but there's sadly no "action" to sleaze it up a bit). Otherwise, they're constantly grouped together and framed in master shots, making them rather indistinguishable. Your best bet at placing any sort of stock in one over the other will be based entirely on how attracted you are to them (sadly, the gal I liked was one of the first to go), as they have no specific character traits; even basic things like "the bitchy one" are hard to pin down (though some have random European accents). So when they start getting offed, there's no sense that any one of them is safer than the others, a rarity for even the best slashers.
Incidentally, Netflix also assigned me Cheerleader Massacre 2, which had many of the same problems and also a penchant for laughably gratuitous nudity. However, I did NOT see that original film, so maybe its bizarre combination of slasher (like Cheerleader Camp, it involves a cheerleading competition where many of the participants and various horny male hanger-ons get offed) and killer robot (!) tropes are familiar to its fans. All I know for sure is that it sets up a sequel that I won't be watching unless Netflix forces me to, though I admired the high body count and oft-ridiculous kills - if they weren't all done via low-rent CGI I might have had more fun with it.
The era of this particular brand of slasher has long since passed (hell, even by the time the original came out the slasher era was pretty much over). Post-Scream (which is 17 years old this week! I FEEL OLD.) you have to either do it straight (like Cold Prey) or constantly remind your audience that you're in on the joke, which gets tiresome more often than not. Cheerleader was made in 2009, and I couldn't help but wonder if the killer robot nonsense was an attempt to modernize an old script that they forgot to make when it would have been relevant. As for Sorority, it was made in 1990, when this sort of thing was only being churned out for the hardcore fans looking for something new at the video store - Hollywood productions (or even acquisitions) were a thing of the past. The odds of me finding a slasher from that period that I really like are slim to none, but I'm happy that there are still some I missed as a young lad that can provide some basic entertainment to 33 year old me.
What say you?