Sorority House Massacre 2 Review
Sorority House Massacre Part 2 1990
Directed by: Jim Wynorski
Starring: Robyn Harris, Melissa Moore, Stacia Zhivago
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
This viewing experience was a bit like one of those moments in cheesy films when a character gets a warning like, ‘Don’t go in the basement‘, and then does it anyway. I’d seen the 3.6 rating on the IMDB, I had read the awful reviews posted in the slasher stratosphere and therefore wasn’t feeling motivated to insert this particular cassette into my aging VCR. It had been sitting on my shelf looking cold, lonely and rejected for over fifteen years. Let’s be frank, by 1990, the chance of finding a good low-budget slasher film amongst the rubble was like walking over to the most beautiful girl in the disco after 13 jägerbombs and convincing her to let you take her for a spin in your jalopy. My fiancé however is not as knowledgeable on crap horror films as me and she saw something in the desolate cover that convinced her that we were in for a good time.
Five sorority babes decide to renovate an old house so that they can study and party, but they are unaware that it was the location of a notorious massacre from five years earlier. As darkness falls, the girls are stalked and slaughtered by a hooded and hook-clenching nutjob. Can any of them escape alive?
Well you can’t make all of the people happy all the time. Mullholland Drive is amongst the highest rated films on the IMDB and one of my all-time favourites, but my friend Andy – whom I rate as a good film critic – can’t stand it. He feels it’s poorly paced and too complex. I tell you this because I had a great time with Sorority House Massacre Part Deux and was left somewhat confused by the scathing criticism that it’d received elsewhere.
Now maybe it was the four cans of lager that I’d ingested earlier in the day. Or maybe my brain had taken a temporary break from logical thinking. I’m not sure exactly why, but either way I found that there was much here to appreciate. I mean, technically we certainly won’t be singing from any rooftops about what’s on display and bra size looked to be much higher on the list of essential casting attributes than acting talent. But once the slashing starts after a slightly lengthy chunk of padding, the movie builds a solid momentum.
Rumour has it that back in 1989, Jim Wynorski couldn’t get in contact with Roger Corman, so ran the idea for this feature past his wife who gave him the go ahead to shoot in her husband’s absence. The director was given an extremely short production timespan (seven days) and a Happy Meal budget, but managed to knock this together with what he’d been given. When Mr Corman finally got round to seeing the completed print, he liked it so much that he spliced in some footage from his previous slasher hit, Slumber Party Massacre and gave the go ahead to make it a sequel of sorts to another of his entries, Sorority House Massacre. There’s no doubt that the rationale for doing so was because he felt that it would be much easier to market this as a sequel than as an unknown stand alone. The fact that this story has absolutely nothing to do with either SPM or SHM though, does add an unnecessary amount of WTF??? I wasn’t the biggest fan of Carol Frank’s original Sorority House Massacre, because much like Offerings, I felt that she had taken the level of Halloween pilfering to a point that bordered on duplication. Thankfully, this ‘title only’ follow up adds enough pizazz to bring some credibility to the series.
It works because Wynorski knows his and his budget’s limits. Previous pictures that he had given us were never renowned for their levels of suspense or intrigue, so he played to his strengths and packed the movie with cheese and an exploitation overload. His female characters are buxom and spend the majority of the runtime in tight fitting lingerie. I am not sure what the record for boob shots in a stalk and slasher is, but I am pretty sure that SHM Part 2 is not far off that number. Our final girl is played by Robyn Harris, a British former page 3 model, whose accent leaps from Yorkshire to phony-American two to three times in one sentence. She overcomes this and the fact that she can’t act with her heart stopping beauty. Her thick wavy locks, voluptuous figure and angelic face, reminded me of Traci Lords during her adult-movie years, which is no mean feat. What better way could a screenwriter make you want someone to survive? Don’t worry about character background, just make sure that they’re undeniably hot…
There’s a mystery that is easy enough to solve but keep things moving and an undercurrent of humour that is never overdone. When we finally get to the scenes that show the girls fighting to survive against the hooded menace, they are competently handled and mix tension and excitement to good effect. Movies like this usually work much better with large dollops of gore and the fact that most of the killings here are off-screen is probably the biggest gripe that I had. It doesn’t ruin the feature by any means, but I couldn’t help but wonder what we might have been treated to if Roger Corman had picked up that first phonce call and passed a couple of hundred extra dollars Wynorski’s way. As I said previously, this shares very little with the original Sorority House Massacre and instead feels like a combination of Slumber Party Massacre and Killer Party. Its not going to be the one that makes you leave the light on at night, but it’s fun all the same.
So we really enjoyed watching Wynorski’s first sorority slasher and I’ll have to revisit Hard to Die when I get the chance. Robyn Harris is truly a delectable scream queen and the movie’s worth picking up even if its just to see her…
Final Girl: √√√√