I have so much to say about this film. WAY too much to waste everyone’s time reading about it in a blog post.
Oh, okay you twisted my arm.
So, I’ll start by saying that I believe this film to be one of the more underrated horror films of the 80s. While it did have the “dead teenager” zeitgeist on the surface, it elevated the trend of the slasher movie with a mystery surrounding the curious history of the sorority house and a certain inhabitant. It also contains an INCREDIBLE final scare that I will not give away here.
The film (which, I admit, does have many laughably bad horror film moments) tells the story of sorority that is on the eve of having their end of the year party. The sisters pull a prank on the strict house mother, which ends badly. And by badly I mean the house mother ends up wrapped in a rug and buried in the backyard pool. Once the party starts, things get out of hand. And by out of hand, I mean the girls involved in the prank start getting brutally murdered one by one, all while trying to figure out who is after them. Here is the trailer.
The film also features two wonderful musical scores.
The incidental music was composed by Richard Band, who comes from a big Hollywood pedigree and has written some great horror film scores – Re-Animator, Silent Night Deadly Night, From Beyond, to name a few. The theme song from this film is available for download on Amazon. And as a footnote to my complete and utter geek out over HOSR (yeah, “HOSR”, I just did that) – I know it SO well that I noticed on the CW’s promos for The Inner Circle, they were using the music from this film. I actually ran into the living room thinking that the movie was on TV. I thought to myself that whoever in the promo department at CW picked this song, they rock and I want to meet them.
The OTHER music in this film, which leads me to my personal connection with this post, is by an 80s rock band out of DC – 4 Out Of 5 Doctors. The melodic power pop band was featured in this film AS the band at the sorority party. At that time, they were up and coming in DC, signed to CBS records and on their way to breaking big. Sadly, it never happened for the 4 docs, but their legacy is preserved by the FIVE songs they perform in the film. Yes, five. It’s absurd as to how much screen time they got in the movie. If you watched the trailer above, you’ll notice how much freaking trailer screen time they get. (I will say though, it doesn’t match the amount of screen time The Doobie Brothers got in the very special bootlegging episode of What’s Happening.)
So, how does this all connect to me? Well, many many years ago, the rights holders for this film hired my writing partner and I to create a treatment for the sequel. Unfortunately for us, maybe fortunately for everyone else, the film never happened. (They did remake the film as Sorority Row, which I have not seen.) During the time working on the treatment, we took a copy of the original film and re-cut it to parody VH1’s Behind The Music, which centered on none other than…4 Out Of 5 Doctors. I then contacted Cal Everett, the band’s lead singer, via a Google search and sent him a copy. He loved it (or tolerated it, because we made a LOT OF FUN of the band) enough to send me a CD rip of BOTH 4 Out Of 5 Doctors LPs. It was one of those personal triumphs that when I tried to explain the very convoluted story to my friends, it was mostly met with blank stares. And now, ten years later you can purchase their only two albums on their site at 4outof5drs.com. Of course, if you watch The House On Sorority Row, you’ll get to hear a lot of the music during the five performances.
The film was written and directed by Mark Rosman, who has gone on to a very successful TV directing career. According to IMDB, this was his first film. And I think, regardless of the film’s sillier moments, he set out to make a smarter, better looking and better sounding horror film than most of the Friday The 13th ripoffs that were prevalent in the era. I believe he succeeded.