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The Gorehounds Reviews: Sorority House Massacre 1 & 2
March 15, 2014Posted by on
Many times the Gorehound just craves simplicity because plots often get too thick, complex, or confusing. The killer should kill, the stalker should stalk, and the monster should mash. Is it really too much to ask? For a genre that harbors amateur filmmakers, simplicity abounds but is often poorly executed without purpose, relevance, or thought. Simplicity is a quality that diminishes with success but rightly so. As a filmmaker accrues a filmography, their plots become more complex and intriguing. Take for example Carpenter’s The Thing: it is very complex with many critical and unique characters. If it had only been MacReady (with somebody other than Russell of course) with an alien dog and no other characters and at the helm of teenage amateur film makers, it’d be a flop. How does all of this relate to Sorority House Massacre 1 and 2? Well because they are indeed simple and superb.
Sorority House Massacre 1 and 2 (SHM1 and SHM2) are diluted within the slasher genre. What makes them stand out? Well not much. If your scanning through Netflix or the video store, there isn’t much that’d attract you to it. The Gorehound chose it because the Gorehound LOVES (1) marathons and (2) 80s movies. Between two movies from separate series and some sequels of the same series, the sequels will always win out. Maybe it’s just a personal preference but that’s the way the Gorehound gets going.
SHM1 was released 1986 and SHM2 was obviously released later 1990. SHM2 features scream queens Melissa Ann Moore and Gail Harris. They are classic 80s-90s horror flicks. The biggest difference between the two is the amount of nudity and general film making ability. SHM2 has much more busty women in much more scandalous clothing. Both films are almost comedic in their acting and actions. CM1 is less explicit in the use of nudity and does not have a constant focus on it. It’s more focused on the trauma that this stalker is causing to the lead protagonist. The killer in both films are different but each are equally entertaining.
Both films fail in their use of death. There is little variety in death scenes and gore. Most often it’s a typical stabbing, some splatter without uniqueness. It’s not a direct insult to the genre but unique deaths are an easy way to elevate a film. Crashing through a window? Frying pan beat down? Burned alive? or my favorite, death by a cell phone being shoved down the throat by Kane in See No Evil (’06).
Amongst the many other slashers with similar names such as Cheerleader Massacre, Slumber Party Massacre, Sorority Party Massacre, etc., I can’t say either of these stand out much. They are indeed older and therefore preserve the classic stalker vibe without depending on extreme scenes like rape, brutality, or pedophilia that is often utilized in newer films. During these older decades there wasn’t an emphasis on the antagonist’s motives. The audience wanted to see how victims reacted. In Nightmare on Elm Street, it wasn’t until the the 3rd or 4th entry that they backtracked to show his history, and even then, it was really only a flashback and not the entire focus of the film like the recent remake.
Both films have similar plots with a stalker following a bunch of girls. The former is more psychological and messes with the mind, where the latter is more in the moment and teenage attraction. Both utilize suspense, but the former does moreso.
Despite the distractingly scantily clad women in SHM2, it is superior. The music, camera angles, and dialogue excel. If you’d rather not be exposed to such low-cut shirts or women in underwear, go for SHM1 but if you’re fine with it, SHM2 is the better choice. If you’re feeling up to, pair ’em together with the unofficial sequel Hard To Die (’90).
(Fun fact: I didn’t even realize I was watching Sorority House Massacre until an hour into the second one. The entire time I thought I was watching Cheerleader Massacre. Shows how similar they all are)