With the recent announcement of ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ looking to cash in on success of 80’s throwback series like ‘Stranger Things’ and Stephen King’s reboot of ‘IT’ I thought it’d be nice to give a shout out to a great flick from 1983 called ‘The House on Sorority Row’ I watched a couple days ago. ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ is going to be fully immersed in the 1980’s slasher genre. That being said here’s a pitch perfect Slasher flick I recommend they watch before releasing the new season, they likely’ll need all the help they can get by trying to convincingly tackle the genre. This mysterious little flick from 1983 deserves a helluva lot more praise than it’s gotten throughout the years. Director Mark Rosman brings one of the best to the genre!
The House on Sorority Row’s filled with a pretty tightly knit little mystery that’s full of fairly unpredictable twists and turns that never lag in it’s execution. Hitting all the slasher tropes in a pretty unique way, considering it was released back in 1983. First off we’ve got a full cast of great characters, almost entirely female as well and rather than giving us a troop of the usual moronic teenagers for the killer to prey upon, we get ones who you just might care about getting off’d. Our gang of sorority sisters here are a pleasure to see onscreen and most definitely take the plot into some fascinating territory. There’s the old seemingly mentally unstable sorority house mother who desperately wants the girls out of the house for the summer. However determined to throw one final grand graduation bash at the house, the sorority sisters get into a heated argument with her that quickly escalates to uncomfortable levels. They devise a plan to play a wicked prank on her, and in doing so set into motion a night of terror as they try and cover up their actions from the public. Deciding the show must go on they reluctantly continue with the big bash and soon find them being stalked by a ruthless slasher out to put the kebosh on their festivities.
Sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, the set up to this one is pretty awesome as the girls quickly prove they can be just as nasty and cunning as any 80’s frat boy. The acting for the most part is rock solid here too, but don’t fret, as there’s still plenty of 80’s cheez to go around. One of the highlights being the grad party and it’s totally rad live power pop band ‘4 Out of 5 Doctors’ who perform there that boost the level of fun up a few notches alone. It’s the kind of party that makes you wanna jump into a time machine to attend & get down in the 1980’s. We’ve also got a great final girl here that’s totally worth rooting for as she slowly throughout the evening puts the pieces of the bizarre mystery together while her & her friends are stalked on the spooky campus. It feels a bit like a demented Scooby Doo mystery that takes itself fully seriously in the best way possible.
It’s also not afraid to get nasty with it’s gore fx there’s plenty of inventive kills scattered about to revel in as well. The finale really ramps things up and keeps you for the most part guessing til the end about what the fuck is actually going one here. The killer is pretty awesome too and the last 5 minutes (which I wish would’ve lasted longer actually) are filled with tension, thoroughly impressive camera work & the reveal of the maniac in the flesh is pretty iconic in it’s own right. This one’s really got it all as far as slashers go, a stunning orchestral score from Richard Band, great spooky sets, sweet fx, excellent characters, a cool mystery and a pretty sweet ass slasher villain. If you’ve never seen this one and are a fan of the genre this one hits a home run!
So you’ve seen all the ‘Friday The 13th’ movies, every installment of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, Seen all four ‘Scream’ films and all of the Child’s Play/Chucky flicks-What the hell’s next? Well don’t fret because there are some awesome lesser known slasher flicks you may’ve never heard of that you’ve gotta check out this Halloween. Let’s face it too, as far as slasher movies go, there are A LOT of terribly shitty ones you really don’t want to waste your time watching! I’ll save you the boredom of trudging through a bad 80’s slasher movie. If you’re looking for quality, here are 6 awesome ones you probably haven’t checked out yet, just in time for Halloween!!
1.Strange Behavior 1981 (AKA: Dead Kids)
This cool Aussie horror movie is definitely NOT your average slasher fare, which is all the more reason to check out this gem. 1981 hailed as the golden years of the slasher hurled a ton of forgettable genre movies in our direction but ‘Strange Behavior’ in my opinion remains one that’s got a lot more going for it than what appears on it surface initially. This campy mystery mixes the slasher with elements of sci-fi and 1950’s horror. It’s also got one of the most incredible teen party dance scenes in movie history! Dig it!
2. The Prowler (1981)
Worth it alone for the special fx work of master Tom Savini, The Prowler is a ton of fun and also has a cool mystery within it’s gory plot. It even features a memorable slasher dressed head to toe in WWII army fatigues that’s hell bent on hunting down horny teens. This movie has a lot more character than most of it’s peers, has some awesome spooky settings as well as some excellent moments of extreme tension! The Prowler is top notch when it comes to classy ass slasher movies.
3. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
You see a trend here? 1981 everyone was competing to make the coolest slasher movie and ‘Happy Birthday To Me’ is considered by many to be one of the best the genre had to offer. This one’s beautifully filmed, filled with cool special fx and even stars Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie) in the movie’s lead role! For it’s rather long run time (1 hour & 51 minutes) it never becomes dull and one of the reasons this one’s so damn charming is because of the incredibly ridiculous plot twists throughout that are played totally straight and serious- Scooby Doo and his gang would feel right at home in this one!
4. The Burning (1981)
Dang! 1981 AGAIN!! Here’s hands down on of the best, most entertaining slasher movies of all time. Although feeling incredibly similar to ‘Friday the 13th’ at first, this one’s a total classic that deserves far more praise. It’s filled with awesome gory, truly inventive kills, a cool disfigured monster-y slasher & most interestingly stars Jason Alexander (Seinfeld’s George Costanza) in his first movie role! A ton of fun and filled with ridiculous 80’s nostalgia, The Burning is a great time.
5. Tourist Trap (1979)
This one’s an interesting one for sure, for a PG rated movie it sure packs a weird creepy ass punch. It’ll make you develop a serious fear of mannequins, as a gang of traveling teenagers stops at a spooky roadside attraction that’s jam packed with em! To make matters worse there’s a masked slasher on the prowl who’s got telekinetic powers in which he uses to animate the freaky mannequins. Tourist Trap is filled with ultra trippy imagery and is a truly bizarre, utterly unique installment into the genre!
6. Popcorn (1991)
Enter the 1990’s!! Popcorn is a truly underrated gem of a flick that brings a disfigured psycho into the theater during a horror movie marathon. It’s filled with some neat-o plot twists, cool fx and and a unique story that twists in and out of the schlocky horror movies our onscreen characters are watching. It also stars Jill Schoelen, who’s a total 80’s horror movie cutie icon and legend Dee Wallace Stone for some extra added horror cred. Oddly the movie was shot in Jamaica which is why the people in it are always listening to reggae. Check this one out it’s got a lot of charm for an early 90’s slasher flick.