Monday 6 January 2014

Sorority House Massacre 2 (Jim Wynorski 1990) Review

Find more film reviews here, or read the review for “Hard To Die: Sorority House Massacre 3” here.

“It's Cleavage vs Cleavers and the result is Delta Delta Deadly!” In 1986 Carol Frank wrote and directed Sorority House Massacre, a thinly-veiled rip-off of John Carpenter's Halloween (much like many of the slasher films of the decade), and while several franchises were pumping out annual sequels, it wasn't until 1990 that SHM would become a series. Moving away from copycat stalk-and-slash hijinks, SHM2, subtitled 'Nighty Nightmare', was a saucy direct-to-video dose self awareness that favoured knowing winks to the audience as often as it lingered on the nubile young bodies of the gorgeous cast … in other words, exactly the kind of VHS rental any teenage boy in the 1990s would have sought out with wide-eyes.

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“We're gonna turn this into the best sorority house in school.” Five college babes have bought themselves a brand new sorority house on-the-cheap and have grand designs in fixing it up to be the new go-to place for legendary parties. With no power or phone lines, and the movers not coming until 6am, the stage is set for standard slasher exploits – especially as the house was formerly the scene of a grisly multiple homicide.

“Oh my God, that must have been totally gross!” Slasher aficionados will immediately notice that, in true Roger Corman production fashion, the flashback sequence is lifted entirely out of Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Jones, 1982), with the tale of high school students being slayed by a drill-wielding killer reconfigured into a family massacre. However, that doesn't put-off Linda, Jessica, Kimberly, Susie, and Janey – Robyn Harris, Melissa Moore, Stacia Zhivago, Michelle Verran, and Dana Bentley, respectively – nope, there's Tequila to drink and dodgy basements to explore!

“Strip To Kill Part Seven, where have I been?!” Meanwhile Lieutenant Block and Sergeant Shawlee are cruising the streets (and stripper bars), convinced that '300lbs of bad news' Orville Ketchum (Peter Spellos) was involved in the Hockstatter murders … but they just don't have the evidence. Nevermind that though, there's a lingering shower scene to scope out – replete with comedic 'squeaky clean' sound effects – before not one, not two, not three … not even four … but five unhurried boob shots in rapid succession. SHM2 knows its audience and aims to please.

“Let's get changed for bed and give it a shot.” Seeking thrills, the girls slip into something more comfortable and try to contact the spirit of the killer – Hockstatter – via a troubled séance. Sufficiently spooked, not least by their creepy neighbour Ketchum (who spends his free time eating raw meat, watching horror movies, gazing at grisly newspaper headlines, and storing spare keys in his underpants), the uniformly buxom ladies retire for bed.

“Nobody puts a finger in my diviner.” In spite of their feisty nature, and generally smart outlook on horror movie conventions, events naturally conspire to whittle the numbers down. The death scenes aren't what you'd call spectacular – beyond the requisite creeping around in the dark (or amazingly bright candle light … all the better to see your lingerie-clad form with) – you just get a couple of squeeze-bottles of blood sprayed on a wall, a shadow of a hook, and one meaty shot of a bear trap fulfilling its job description on the wrong species.

“Oh my God, our clothes are still upstairs!” It's all very knowing horror movie fun (albeit lacking in scares), with screenwriters James B. Rogers, Mark Thomas McGee, and Bob Sheridan canny enough to write-in explanatory lines of dialogue to justify the deliberately daft events that surround these skimpily-dressed (and, of course, soaked-with-rain) college chicks. SHM2 is like a stereotype of a slasher movie – all those spoof titles, descriptions, and scenes that you see in other movies or television shows, that's precisely what this flick is. Never let it be said that Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Ghoulies 4) misses a chance to chuck in a sixth and seventh boob shot, as well as three moments where the camera is ideally placed to capture frilly-knickered arses ascending the stairs to the creepy attic (the last of which involves not one, but three bottoms, simultaneously). Indeed, so many moments feel like a wink-laden set-up to a porno, that you can't help but laugh – just as intended – and don't forget to bend over a bit and squeeze your rained-on, nighty-clad norks right into the camera lens. It's not surprising really, that Wynorski was once quoted as saying “breasts are the cheapest special effect in our business” – in that case, this flick gives Avatar a run for its money!

“No girls were actually hurt or mistreated during the production of this film.” It's not scary, it's not gory, and it's not subtle – but it's all intentional. SHM2 may be cheap and rushed (written and shot over seven days, apparently, on a budget of a mere $150,000), but all it wants to do is give it's target audience plenty to laugh and gawp at. It's brief, trashy, VHS rental movie-making which allows its scantily-clad cast to play-up to the audience and kick butt … while wearing intimate apparel. Indeed, Linda, played well by former Page 3 model and Yorkshire lass Robyn Harris (aka Gail Harris), gets to dish out plenty of punishment and steals the entire movie with looks and guts. Taking cues from comedy-slasher Slumber Party Massacre, Sorority House Massacre 2 is every inch a bloke's movie, and is cheeky 'bad-in-a-damn-good-way' fun from start-to-finish.

Read the review for “Hard To Die: Sorority House Massacre 3” here.

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