The nineteenth entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series is Mark Rosman’s The House on Sorority Row (1982), also known as House of Evil. Katey (Kathryn McNeil) and her friends in the Pi Theta sorority are finally graduating. Their plans to host a party to celebrate are rejected by their stern house mother Mrs. Slater (Lois Kelso Hunt). After Mrs. Slater slashes Vicki’s (Eileen Davidson) waterbed after catching her with a boy in the sorority house, Vicki develops a plan to get back at her. Katey and the other girls join in. Vicki takes Mrs. Slater’s cane and throws it into the abandoned pool in the backyard of the sorority and the girls force Mrs. Slater, at gunpoint, to go in and recover it. Naturally, something goes wrong, and Mrs. Slater ends up dead. Soon, the girls start dying left and right. Will Katey be able to discover who is killing them? Could it be Mrs. Slater? Or someone else?
Rosman’s film features a pretty drastic prank that obviously goes horribly awry, as is often a trope in the slasher genre. One thing that makes the film stand out from its peers is the antagonistic and violent personalities of the sorority girls. This goes against the typical portrayal of sorority girls as simply sex-crazed and flirtatious. While that does still apply to some of the girls, their role in the prank against Mrs. Slater drives them all over the edge. Narratively, this gives the characters a bit more depth, allowing them to explore themes of remorse and regret.
It is also interesting that this is Mark Rosman’s first film as a director and screenwriter. He would go on to direct two popular romantic comedies starring Hillary Duff: A Cinderella Story (2004) and The Perfect Man (2005). Rosman does a nice job of expanding the characters beyond their typical stereotypes and also providing a solid mystery for Katey to solve. The film also utilizes the campus locations quite well. He even throws in a nice party with a live band which, as I’ve said before and will probably say again, is something that I absolutely love about slasher films from the 1980s.
Kathryn McNeil turns in a solid performance as Final Girl Katey, providing the character a complex identity as she struggles with her guilt and remorse following the death of Mrs. Slater at the hands of the Pi Theta girls. Eileen Davidson gives a very fun and enjoyable turn as the rather evil Vicki. Lois Kelso Hunt as Mrs. Slater is perhaps my favorite performance of the film. She just captures the over-the-top meanness of the character perfectly. The chemistry between the girls and Mrs. Slater is also very enjoyable, as well.
Through its engaging narrative, solid performances, and decent direction, The House on Sorority Row proves that it is definitely worth a watch this Spooky Season!
The House on Sorority Row can be streamed for free on the Tubi, Hoopla, and Roku apps. It can also be rented on Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, and YouTube. The MVD Rewind Collection blu-ray can be purchased HERE.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series!