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Original Vs. Remake: House on Sorority Row

02.25.2015by: Mike Catalano
We definitely all got it right with the outcome of our last Original Vs. Remake. David Cronenberg's grossly brilliant remake of The Fly teleported to a solid victory over the Vincent Price-starring original. Tough to top Goldblum in super smart scientist mode.

For today's O vs. R, we decided to go Greek and shack up with some sorority pledges before they get offed! Who doesn't love a good old-fashioned slasher in the sorority house? Hot girls, fun kills, cat fights? Tough to go wrong. Plus, it will be interesting to see how many of you either 1) Knew the following two flicks were an original and a remake or 2) Heard of these flicks at all! So throw on a toga and start chugging a stein of beer because it is time for House on Sorority Row to take on Sorority Row!

Story
On the eve of graduating, a group of sorority sisters pulls a prank on their curmudgeon of a house mother that goes horribly wrong. Rather than taking responsibility for what they've done, the sisters try to cover it up and go forth with their planned graduation party. However, an unknown assailant doesn't take too kindly to their actions and begins killing the girls one by one during the festivities.
Not straying very far from the original, the remake centers around a sorority's prank that turns deadly and the aftermath of lies, deceit, and death that follows. This one uses a fellow sister and an unwilling boy toy as the catalysts that start off the bloody mayhem in order to throw out more red herrings, but the story really culminates in a big mess.
Special Effects
The gore is plenty practical here and we get a nice R-rated helping of it. All the stabbings, impalings, and disembowelings come equipped with the requisite red stuff. There's a particularly icky scene involving a severed head in a toilet that looks disturbingly realistic
The remake definitely had gore on its mind and makes no qualms about slinging it all over the screen. There are numerous nasty deaths that befall a ton of deserving bitches. It's all mostly practical and wonderfully bloody. There's even a nicely orchestrated house fire at the end.
Acting
For a low budget 80's slasher film, the acting on display is superb! That is one of the main features that elevates House above the standard horror that came out in this era. All the sorority girls deliver perfect performances, especially Katherine McNeil as the main heroine.
The group of B-level actresses in the remake do a fairly sufficient job conveying fear and bitchiness throughout the flick. Briana Evigan, Rumer Willis, and an underused Margo Harshman are standouts. Carrie Fisher is also a hoot as the house mother. However, I am deducting major points for the revealed killer's performance at the end. Pure crap.
Intensity
Thanks to the quality acting, whenever a girl is being stalked, you really get sold on the level of fear involved. Katherine McNeil and Robin Meloy are shining examples. Having the stalker remain unknown throughout most of the film definitely ups your uneasiness. And the finale gets pretty f*cking crazy as it involves using a drugged Katherine as bait!
I suppose you could dredge some intensity from the violent brutality of most of the kills, however scares are pretty damn scarce. This one seemed to aim for style over substance, but didn't really achieve much. The fire element at the end does provide a hint of a tense situation, but nothing too serious.
Hot Chicks
This is early 80's sorority horror hottie heaven! Tight bodies, cute faces, and real breasts! And yes, we are treated to a nice collection of skin on display. Katherine McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward, Harley Jane Kozak, and more make for a beautiful bevy of sorority babes worth pledging your heart to!
This is modern sorority horror movie hottie heaven! Yes, the girls here are gorgeous. The hottie factor is one of the few things this movie got right. Featuring the likes of Briana Evigan, Jamie Chung, Audrina Patridge, and Margo Harshman all in skimpy/tight outfits. There is nudity as well, but not as much as you'd expect/want.
Directing
Mark Rosman actually studied under the great Brian De Palma at the start of his career, which is probably why House on Sorority Row works better than it has any right to. He also does a fantastic job of setting up and orchestrating a pretty interesting mystery that unfolds as the film moves along. The pacing is tight and there's a cool, trippy use of colors, especially towards the end, that makes for a unique viewing experience.
I'm not sure how Stewart Hendler got this job. He didn't have much experience in the horror genre or anywhere else. I will say he set up a pretty cool tracking shot at the beginning of the flick that travels through the sorority house introducing each star as a big party is going on. After that the movie gets overly convoluted with too many stupid red herrings and an ending with a motive so stupid it completely insults the viewer.
House on Sorority Row (1983)
Okay, you can put down your beer stein because we have a winner! Actually, we have ourselves a Big winner! The remake of Row was no match for the solid and sexy original! I suppose they are both fun flicks in their own way, but in terms of all-around horror movie goodness, the original House is king. Have you seen either of 'em? I'm interested to get your take on this battle. If not, here's a little hint: you can probably find them both on youtube. So make sure you get your fill and then fire them bullets down below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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