Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Remake Comparison Project - Theta Pi Must Die

Whether the class of '83 or '09, Cody and Priscilla are glad they didn't matriculate with these girls.


Fresh out of film school, Mark Rosman was looking to get his film career started by making an independent feature. This was in the early 1980s, right on the heels of the box office successes of John Carpenter's Halloween and Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th, amidst the flood of slashers that followed F13. Rosman wasn't a fan of horror, but it was clear that making a horror movie was his best chance.

Rosman was a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, so for his movie he decided to try to blend Hitchcockian suspense with the slasher style of the day. He managed to get his feature directorial debut shot for a total of $300,000 gathered from investors, and after being rejected by multiple studios landed a distribution deal with Film Ventures, who put some more money into the post-production.

It was at Film Ventures' request that the opening of The House on Sorority Row, a sequence which Rosman shot in black and white, was given a blue tint, because they didn't want viewers to be scared off by the thought that the whole movie might be in black and white.

I've never understood the prejudice against black and white. Even when I was a little kid I watched a whole lot of b&w, I didn't discriminate. Black and white imagery can be beautiful.

The opening is perfect. It not only looks, sounds and feels very dated - like it's intended - but it's also a very dark scene to start the movie with.

The blue-tinted scenes take place on June 19, 1961, when Doctor Beck (Christopher Lawrence) is called to the home of Mrs. Slater, who has gone into labor. With the cryptic line "She's the last one", Beck slices into Slater's stomach with a scalpel.

After the procedure, Slater asks where her baby is. Beck replies by saying he's sorry, and Slater's echoing scream of "No!" takes us into the early 1980s and full color.

This gives the opening scene balance and contrast at the same time.  Now everything is so colorful, the music's uplifting. The girls all look so happy. Very smart move. It compliments the other scene very well by being its opposite.

The Slater home now serves as the Pi Theta sorority house, with the elderly Mrs. Slater, who walks with a cane, overseeing things as a strict house mother. Every year, Slater makes sure the house is closed down and the girls have gone for the summer by June 19th.

Beck is still Slater's doctor and despite his argument that "the condition is getting worse" and that his patient should spend the summer at the hospital, Slater intends to spend it at home, just like every other year. If Beck objects, she'll make their dark history public. Beck compromises by giving her a medical alert necklace to be worn at all times.

I hadn't noticed it until it was pointed out in the commentary, but all of the lines delivered by Lois Kelso Hunt as Mrs. Slater were dubbed over by a different actress because Rosman felt that Hunt's voice didn't match the character well enough.

I noticed it right away, and I seriously dislike dubbed movies, but in this case it's easy to get used to it after a while, it doesn't bother me too much.

Slater's summer plans are disrupted by the fact that the seven sorority girls who graduated this year have decided to stay at the house for a few extra days because the venue for their graduation party fell through. Without consulting their house mother, the girls have decided to hold the party at the sorority house.

Slater finds out about the party plan when she walks in on most of the girls "going on a drunken spree". She forbids the party and tells them they have to be out of the house the next day.

As the girls discuss the situation, one of them begins to emerge as our heroine: Kathryn McNeil as Katherine. She has more sympathy for Mrs. Slater than the others, even seems to have liked the older woman at one point, before she became so weird.

That night, Mrs. Slater tears up and burns all of the pictures she had taken with the sorority girls over the years. She then seeks solace in the attic... but her quiet time is interrupted by the sounds of shenanigans.

The sorority's wild girl Vicki (Eileen Davidson) has returned home from a day spent with her boyfriend - activities included Vicki getting a thrill from shooting a gun - and invited the guy up to her room. Slater is so disgusted that this activity would be going on in her house that she uses her cane handle, which is a bird with a spiked tail, to slash open Vicki's water bed.

Way to ruin a perfectly nice waterbed. This scene always makes me cringe.

Rosman may not have liked slashers, but he had clearly studied them, because there are classic slasher shots as Mrs. Slater goes for Vicki's room. The P.O.V. camera glide down the hall, the door opening, the "weapon" being raised.

Vicki swears revenge, even threatening to kill the old lady.

There's a pool behind the sorority house, filled with green, dirty water. Slater never pays to have it cleaned because the girls never use it, the girls never use it because it never gets cleaned. Hanging around the pool the next day, the girls - led by Vicki and Liz (Janis Zido) - begin planning to get back at Mrs. Slater for being so strict by pulling a "good old fashioned sorority prank" on her. Katherine does not join in this discussion, calling the whole idea "silly".

What's even more disgusting is what they're throwing in the pool. Poor chicken. Or poor pool? Poor both.

As the girls talk, someone seems to be spying on them from the attic of the house.

Another classic slasher shot.

In his office, Beck continues to work on the Slater case, speaking into a tape recorder about recommending that his patient spend the next three months under complete clinical supervision. The trauma of the birth we witnessed has sent the patient on the path to a psychotic break and there is signs of decay in their cerebral cortex. Their advanced age is aggravating "the condition"... Any traumatic episode now could act as a stimulus to the patient's latent violence.

A very traumatic episode is about to happen at the Slater house, because despite Katherine's protests, the prank the girls pull on Mrs. Slater involves Vicki's boyfriend's gun.

Mrs. Slater wakes from a nap to find that her cane is missing and the girls are decorating the house for the graduation party. After Slater orders them to take down the disgraceful decorations, Vicki tells her to go check the pool for her cane. There it is, floating on an inner tube.

As mean as it is, making Mrs. Slater have to get in the water to retrieve her cane would have been a fitting enough revenge for the destruction of the waterbed. If only the prank had stopped there...

Mrs. Slater is a pretty vicious old broad, there's no doubt about that. But I feel like even making her get in the pool is too cruel, especially since they're having a party at her house, without her consent. It's too much. And Vicki is too perverse for my liking.

To make sure Mrs. Slater gets into the filthy pool, Vicki pulls out the gun. To prove it's real, she fires a shot through a nearby light. This has gone too far. The other girls plead for Vicki to stop. Liz tries to take the gun away from her... and Vicki shoots her in the leg.

Mrs. Slater is forced into the pool. Vicki opens fire on her. But the gun, aside from the bullet that went through the light, is loaded with blanks. Liz wasn't really shot, she was just playing along, the only girl other than Vicki who knew exactly what was going to happen.

As Vicki and Liz celebrate their own brilliance, Mrs. Slater climbs out of the pool, and Vicki turns around just in time to get clubbed with her cane. Vicki reflexively pulls the trigger of the gun again. Another live round is fired, shooting and killing Mrs. Slater. Her body falls back into the pool.


Apparently a live round was chambered and then Vicki or her boyfriend just stuck a couple blanks into the clip on top of some other live ones. Really stupid... The thought that someone would have mixed live and blank rounds in the clip was so dumb to me, the first time I watched the movie I wasn't even sure that Mrs. Slater had been shot. Liz put fake blood on her leg, but there is no blood on Mrs. Slater. With all this talk of a "worsening condition", I thought she had a heart attack or something.

The prank goes way too far. The way it's done, it almost makes you wonder whether or not Mrs. Slater was really dead. I wasn't so sure about it the first time I watched The House on Sorority Row.

The girls understandably freak out, with Katherine being the only one who thinks they should call for help. The others just want to cover up the crime they've committed and/or been accomplice to. They don't have time to take care of it right now, though. It's party time. The band is even arriving.

Vicki comes up with a quick fix: they wrap the corpse in towels and rope and sink it to the bottom of the pool. As soon as the girls head into the house, the body floats back up to the surface.

Yeah... what a bright idea!

Soon the house is full of partiers dancing to the music of live rock band 4 of 5 Doctors and the girls try to act normal and have fun, Katherine even has a blind date set up for her by Vicki with a guy named Peter (Michael Kuhn), but they're all very tense.

I really enjoy the band, cool songs. Some of the guys in the party look too old to be there, though.

One of my favorite scenes is at the party, when the girls run their eyes through the room, searching, looking for one another. Very nice moment with all the tension.

With the death of Mrs. Slater as the inciting incident, the movie wastes no time wading into the depths of slasherdom. Two minutes after Slater's body floated back up, someone is standing in the bushes, tossing aside the towels she was wrapped in and wringing out the robe she was wearing. This mysterious person is caught by a strange partier who wanders out into the bushes, rambling to himself about a "favorite tree" and squirrels.

This guy gets Mrs. Slater's cane stuck into his throat.

He's not the last partier to find their way out to the pool. A pair of frat douches attempt to throw one of the girls, Robin Meloy as Jeanie, into the pool, and even when they're distracted from that by the other girls telling them there's a wet T-shirt contest going on in the in the house, they shove Diane (Harley Jane Kozak) into the pool before they go.

Figuring they need to make sure nobody will turn on the pool lights and reveal the body that's meant to be at the bottom, Stevie (Ellen Dorsher) goes into the basement to remove that fuse from the fusebox.

The basement scene is very well done and suspenseful. The place itself is pretty scary.

There is some giant machinery in this basement, it looks like she went under a city building.

Someone is in the basement with Stevie, at first watching her from behind a discarded old slatted door. They toy with her, rolling a ball across the floor toward her, making a hanging light swing back and forth. Then they burst out of hiding, grabbing her and stabbing her to death with Mrs. Slater's cane, a murder we see their shadows play out.

Rosman did this scene with style and a nod to Hitchcock. The swinging light has to be a Psycho reference.

As 4 of 5 Doctors bring the graduating girls... minus Stevie... front and center for a special dance, a trio of guys in their tighty whities wander out to the pool. Only one of them, a large fellow called Pig (Brian T. Small) ends up in the water. And then someone switches the lights on. When the girls see this, it disrupts their dance.

For some viewers, Pig's line when the girls catch him in the pool is the most memorable part of the movie - "I'm a Sea Pig."

With the pool lights on, the girls see that Mrs. Slater is missing. This leads to a private argument in the kitchen, where Katherine believes that Mrs. Slater could still be alive somewhere and they need to call for help, while the others brush off the idea. She must have gotten out of the pool, then collapsed and died somewhere else. They need to find the body before someone else does.

The actress who plays the character Morgan, Jodi Draigie, definitely proves to be the weakest actress among the group in this scene. Her delivery of "How do we know she is alive?" has to be seen to be appreciated.

It's not even a "so bad, it's good" type of thing. Jodi Draigie is just awful. And there's nothing redeeming about Morgan; her dress is ridiculously inappropriate, her singing is terrible, and she's way too annoying.

The girls go searching for Mrs. Slater, and it's Morgan who finds her, by accident. The body, wrapped in rope and wet towels, comes tumbling down on Morgan from an attic door in the ceiling of a closet. The girls can't figure out how Mrs. Slater got all the way up there, but there's no time to worry about that, they need to dispose of her.

In the argument over the body, Katherine stands up to Vicki in the strongest way yet - by slapping her.

Vicki had it coming. Good job, Katherine!

Morgan can't handle being around the body, so she goes into another bedroom and gets ready for bed. She discovers a jack-in-the-box; a little harlequin springs out of it and spins to some music. Morgan is amused... and then becomes the slasher's third victim.

The partiers and the band leave as Vicki, Liz, Jeanie, and Diane attempt to carry out a plan that involves placing Mrs. Slater's body in a dumpster, rolling that down to the old barn that serves as their garage, then transferring the body into Liz's van so they can drive it to an old cemetery they're going to bury it in. As the body is put into the dumpster, Jeanie gets blood on her dress.

Finally some indication that Mrs. Slater had a wound!

The girls don't seem to care that they're dealing with their house mother's corpse  - that someone took out of the pool and tried to hide - at all. Jeanie seems to care about her dress more.

Diane is sent ahead alone to the garage/barn to wait for the others, a decision which doesn't turn out well for her.

Such a shame. Diane was probably my favorite. She's killed off way too soon.

While the others roll the dumpster down the street, Katherine and a drunken Peter venture into the attic, where they find a harlequin costume that matches the harlequin in the jack-in-the-box, as well as a murdered bird in a cage.

The other girls end up accidentally running the dumpster into a police car on their way, sending the bloody Jeanie running back to the house alone... There she becomes the first victim to have a chase sequence before the killer can catch her and add her to the body count.

Out of all the girls, I wouldn't have expected Jeanie to be the one who had a "second chance" to get away. The bathroom scene is great though, I really like it.

The police officer is just about to take a look inside the dumpster when he gets called away. Vicki and Liz are able to continue on their way, reaching the garage and finding Diane missing. They go through with their plan anyway, taking the corpse to the old cemetery and digging a grave to dump it in... But before they can, a backlit figure that seems an awful lot like Mrs. Slater takes its revenge on the two girls most responsible for the prank-gone-wrong.

The gravedigging is strange. The area around the hole the girls dug was set up as if there was an official funeral going on, and when they're digging it sounds like the grave is filled with water.

It is very bizarre. I don't get it, either.

Back at the house on sorority row, Katherine has a feeling that something is very wrong here. With no one to stop her, she finally calls for help. But not from the police. She calls the number on the medical alert necklace she has found. Doctor Beck's number.

Beck arrives and sheds some light on the history he and Mrs. Slater shared. She came to him to take part in an experimental fertility procedure, which resulted in the traumatic birth of an abnormal boy named Eric on June 19, 1961. Despite Beck's warnings that Eric's mental condition was worsening and he was nearing a psychotic break, Mrs. Slater always insisted on keeping him at her house over the summer. Now she's dead and Eric is on a rampage.

Beck and Katherine find the corpses of the other girls and Mrs. Slater, but rather than call the police, Beck injects Katherine with a mild sedative and uses her as bait, hoping to draw out Eric while he lies in wait with a tranquilizer gun.

The sedative causes Katherine to hallucinate, making her see things like Mrs. Slater and her dead friends spinning in circles.

Beck's approach is very interesting, unexpected, and somewhat smart. When he gave her the sedative shot, I was suspicious of him and his intentions, until he exposed his plan. Too bad it didn't work out as planned.

This scene is a standout of the film for me. I love the purple-pink lighting, which gives some shots a sort of Creepshow feel as Katherine hallucinates. The whole set-up of Beck using her as bait is awesome.

It's a very climactic scene. Creepy and visually pretty at the same time. Definitely one of my favorites.

Beck's plan goes as disastrously as his fertility experiments did, leaving Katherine to deal with the murderous Eric on her own. Vicki's boyfriend's gun in hand, Katherine heads up into the attic for a final confrontation with the harlequin-costumed killer.

And poor Peter. I thought he was sweet.

The House on Sorority Row isn't one of my favorite slashers, but that may only be because it wasn't among those that I watched in my youth, so I don't have the nostalgic connection to it that would boost it higher in the ranks. I only saw it for the first time within the last few years, and I've been gradually warming up to it with each viewing.

The first time I watched it was last year, thanks to Cody. It had been on my list for years, but for one reason or another, I never got to watch it until then. That means I've only seen the movie a couple of times, and it gets better every time I do so. I liked it right away when I first saw it, and I'm sure it'd be on my favorites list if I had seen it back in the '80s.

It's a really solid entry in the sub-genre, with a good pace - Mrs. Slater is dead by the 30 minute point, after which the slashing begins right away and continues throughout the rest of the running time. The story is perfectly simple, and there's always something going on to keep the viewer interested.

The movie, in theory, could've been pretty shallow, since it's such a simple story. But it's done right, so it isn't the case. Even though they do overplay the main theme quite a bit, I appreciate Richard Band's score as a whole, which is not surprising, since he's Alex Band's uncle... musical talent runs in the family. I feel like the directing - especially when it comes to the main girls - could have used a boost, but it's not something that gets to me excessively.

The mystery is intriguing and handled quite well. Characters have discussions that make it sound like they're talking about Mrs. Slater's health, when they're actually building up to the third act twist and reveal of Eric.

I considered Mrs. Slater surviving the prank when I first watched the movie, so that's a plus. There are some cool death scenes and interesting scenes overall.

My favorite is the head in the toilet. I also really like the underwater scene showing the dead girls. Even though it could've used a little editing, since you can see Diane breathing, it's a nice shot.

Eric doesn't get as much of a chance to shine as some of his fellow slashers, but the harlequin costume he wears at the end is creepy.

The harlequin costume is very chilling, even when Eric isn't wearing it. I do wish they would've explored the character a little more, that part was a little lacking.

The acting among the sorority girls is pretty good across the board, except for Morgan, who feels out of place both as a character and an actress. She's supposed to be a college graduate, but she comes off to be about as smart as a brick... and that's even when surrounded by college graduates making incredibly dumb decisions.

Morgan is the worst for sure, but I feel like acting could've been much better in general. Even the other girls... pretty much all of them have a scene or two that isn't very good at all. Like I said, maybe directing could've improved that.

Mark Rosman did very well making a type of movie he wasn't a fan of, but I am a huge fan of. If I had seen it twenty years earlier, I'd probably be going on and on about how great it is. Instead, that's something that I'm only just starting to realize.

The movie is fun. I feel like watching it every now and then, and it's been an enjoyable experience when I do it. It's not perfect, but it is very good, and I definitely recommend it.


With the horror remake boom of the 2000s in full swing, producers were pouring over horror titles of days gone by looking for a concept they could update for the new century. Eventually, The House on Sorority Row moved to the head of the line for some producers and Mark Rosman, who held the remake rights to his directorial debut, was contacted.

With those rights secured, up-and-comer Stewart Hendler, whose previous credits included a handful of shorts but only one feature, the 2007 film Whisper, was hired to direct the re-do from a screenplay by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, who would also write their own take on Piranha the next year.

As the remake begins, a party being held at the Theta Pi sorority house, on the campus of Rosman University, is in full swing. The camera moves through the house, past extravagant displays of drunken debauchery, casual nudity, and choreographed dancing, giving us our first look at characters we'll be spending the rest of the running time with.

The house mother of this Theta Pi house is Carrie Fisher as Mrs. Crenshaw, and unlike the original film's house mother she obvious doesn't mind hosting parties. She's just hanging out in the kitchen while the young people party.

Five sisters who are entering their senior year gather in a bedroom to toast each other with shots. There's Leah Pipes as Jessica, an extremely self-absorbed and unpleasant girl. Jamie Chung as Claire, who is said to make the group look multi-cultural. Margo Harshman as the completely inappropriate "Chugs". Rumer Willis as the smart and geeky Ellie. And the "real", responsible girl, Briana Evigan of Mother's Day 2010 as Cassidy.

The girls don't act all that friendly... their interactions, even early on in the movie, are pretty bitchy. They keep saying they're sisters, but they already act like they can't stand one another.

One senior girl, Audrina Patridge as Megan, misses out on the toast, but on Jessica's laptop is a webcam feed from Megan's room, where Chugs's brother Garret (Matt O'Leary, also of Mother's Day 2010) is having his way with her seemingly unconscious body.

Megan dumped Garret after finding out he cheated on her, but a simple dumping was not enough. Garret is now the target of a prank masterminded by Jessica, Chugs, Megan, and Claire. The girls gave him what he was led to believe were roofies to put in her drink but were actually Vitamin B12. Before he can go all the way with her sleeping form, Megan starts convulsing and foaming at the mouth.

The makers of the remake may have actually come up with a prank that is even more over-the-line, mean-spirited, and dumb than the one in the original.

The prank doesn't end in the bedroom. The girls, Garret, and the "dying" Megan pile into an SUV for a trip to the emergency room. Driving, Claire pretends to have taken a wrong turn, wasting time. Megan "dies" and Garret is willing to call the police and admit to his crime, but there's no cell phone signal this far out in the countryside.

Jessica, Claire, and Chugs convince Garret that they need to dispose of the body to save them all from getting in trouble. They take her to an old, abandoned mine and start discussing chopping up the body before tossing it into a body of water. Ellie spouts some knowledge about bodies floating back to the surface if there's still air in the lungs.

They really take their time torturing the guy. I get why they were doing it, but enough is enough. And you can see that he's not a very stable person. Hello, he's Chugs's brother!

Unfortunately, they let this scenario drag on for way too long. Long enough for Garret to grab a tire iron and plunge it into Megan's chest to release the air from her lungs. Megan dies for real this time.

Even though I knew something bad was about to happen, it was a major "what the heck?" moment for me when I saw the movie for the first time. Very well executed.

With no cell phone reception out here, the girls are unable to call for help. Realizing that this incident could destroy her life, Jessica decides they need to cover this up. Cassidy argues with her about it, but Jessica manages to convince everyone else to go along with her.

While Cassidy walks off to try to get a cell phone signal, the others wrap Megan's corpse in a blanket and Cassidy's jacket, then dump her down the mine shaft. If Megan is found, Cassidy has been framed.

Jessica is awful, but the filmmakers and the actress did a good job of showing how well she can manipulate the others.

Cassidy didn't stand a chance trying to reason with the other girls. Jessica knows exactly what to say to convince them, exactly like a politician.

Eight months later, the girls have graduated. Cassidy has distanced herself from the other Theta Pis and is in a serious relationship with school valedictorian Andy (Julian Morris), where the only issue seems to be how puritanical his parents are. They won't be letting the pair sleep in the same room when Andy takes Cassidy to their house.

Theta Pi hosts a family luncheon, which Chugs joins after an attempted dalliance with a freshman boy is derailed by the fact that she tastes like vomit.

I'm so proud of that boy. Chugs is gross.

Jessica gives a speech hyping sisterhood and thanking their beloved house mother Mrs. Crenshaw. She moves on to making a toast to their sadly missing sister Megan, and as she does the other girls are freaked out to see the spectre of Megan moving through the gathered crowd.

It's not Megan, it's her younger sister Maggie (Caroline D'Amore), who is planning to go to Rosman and become a Theta Pi. The girls are troubled to interact with the sibling, so Jessica rushes her out. Claire calls her creepy, Jessica bashes her fashion sense.

Soon after Maggie leaves, the girls all receive the same picture on their phone: a black-gloved hand holding a bloody tire iron. Garret is their prime suspect, with Claire jumping to the conclusion that he has gone psycho and is going to kill them all.

This "tease from the killer" reminds me of the sort of thing that would happen in an I Know What You Did Last Summer movie.

It reminded me of Pretty Little Liars, with all of them getting the message at the same time.

In the build-up to that night's big graduation party at the sorority house, Mrs. Crenshaw gives the senior girls a gift of sisterhood that is unappreciated and disregarded by Jessica and her lackeys, Claire has sex with her boyfriend Mickey (Maxx Hennard) in a jacuzzi surrounded by people making party preparations, and Jessica has dinner with her boyfriend's senator dad, who may become the Vice President and her father-in-law. His status, and the status being connected to him would give her, is a major reason why she's so intense about covering up what happened with Megan.

We've seen that Jessica acts just like a politician, and she's great at it. She would've fit in just fine with Kyle's family. They're all equally awful.

Chugs goes to see her psychiatrist Doctor Rosenberg (Ken Bolden), who she really just sees to score oxycontins from him. She arrives to find him handcuffed to a bed (his last session "ended abruptly"), and offering sample prescriptions in return for sexual favors.

Yeah... with a creep like that for a psychiatrist, I see no hope for Chugs.

They really went out of their way to make the majority of the characters in this movie as repugnant as possible.

While Chugs is freshening up, the killer arrives, wearing a black cloak, black gloves, and wielding a customized (or "pimped out") tire iron with blades added to the ends. Throwing his tire iron like a large ninja star, the killer nails the psychiatrist in the forehead from the other end of a hallway. We see the impact in shadow, possibly a nod to the death of Stevie in the first movie.

Finding that "doctor love" has disappeared, Chugs figures he wants to play "Catch Me, Rape Me", so she just reclines with a bottle of champagne. As she takes a drink, the killer lunges out of nowhere and slams the bottle down her throat.

This is my favorite death scene in the movie. So brutal. It's brilliant and looks very realistic.

This may be the most character-appropriate murder in slasher movie history.

Party preparations continue. In the senior girls' shower room, Claire and Jessica exchange words over the creepy text message, not knowing there's a freshman girl (Nicole Moore as Joanna) in one of the stalls. She overhears Jessica say that Garret thinks the girls made him kill Megan. She doesn't get a chance to share this information with anyone because after Jessica and Claire leave the shower room, the killer enters.

The killer toys with Joanna before killing her, turning on the other showers in the room, just like Eric turned on the showers while stalking Jeanie in the '83 film.

There are copious amounts of alcohol on hand for the night's party, but it's just not enough, so Ellie is sent into the dark, dingy basement to look for more vodka. Instead of vodka, she finds half of the bloody jacket Megan's body was wrapped in, then bumps into Andy, who Cassidy sent to help her.

Ellie breaks down in tears, while Garret continues to get the blame for what's going on. He's a problem Jessica or Chugs will deal with, whenever Chugs shows up. There's no time to worry about it now, because the party has started.

The party ensues, full of bubbles, alcohol, and random nudity. One of the most asked questions when the remake was announced was, "Who will play Sea Pig?" It's an actor named Joe Forgione, who randomly yells "I'm a Sea Pig!" after hitting a beer bong.

I'd rather have 4 of 5 Doctors than Sea Pig. They are sorely missed in these party scenes.

I couldn't agree more. And the Sea Pig moment didn't work or make sense here.

Claire dumps Mickey for hitting on, making sleazy comments about, and/or peeking up the skirts of every other female he crosses paths with. Newly single, he continues on with the same behavior.

Claire and Mickey were a lousy couple. He's a jerk, but a funny jerk. Some of his lines are amusing.

While Claire talks to Cassidy about the situation they're in, which proves to be much more comforting than talking to Jessica about it, Ellie witnesses the killer murdering Mickey.

Jessica and Cassidy talk while confirming that a murder took place in their house. Although Jessica earlier took being called a bitch as a compliment, she now calls Cassidy a bitch and says "Nobody likes a bitch."

The girls then receive on their phones video Megan shot with her cell phone, video of her own murder. That's followed by a text warning that the video will be sent to the police in twenty minutes. The girls need to go to the mine to stop that from happening.

On their way, the girls run into Maggie. Almost literally - the girl is standing right in the middle of the street. She was told by Jessica to stay away from the party, but after calling Jessica a bitch and dissing her hair, she goes on into the celebration.

At the mine, Jessica runs into Garret, literally. He's there, clutching the other half of Cassidy's bloody jacket and a shard of mirror glass, bleeding from slashed wrists and out of his mind. Convinced he's the killer, Jessica slams her car into him. A couple times.

Taking Garret's cell phone off his body, the girls find that he received the same messages they did, sent from Megan's phone. They need to figure out whether or not Megan is truly dead, and to do that Cassidy goes down into the mine shaft.

There's nothing down there but the blanket that was around the corpse and a message scrawled on the rock wall in blood. THETA PI MUST DIE.

The girls return to their sorority house to find that the place has emptied out almost completely. The remaining partiers get kicked out. A text is received from Chugs's phone, notifying the others that Chugs is dead.

Armed with a flare gun, Claire goes out to shut down the overheating jacuzzi. That doesn't turn out well for her.

When attempting to save Claire from the killer, Cassidy grabs a cane with a handle that is a bird with a spiked tail to use as a weapon.

It's a nice, blink-and-miss-it nod to the original, but I'm not sure why there's a cane stand in this sorority house.

It's always nice when there are nods to original movies in their remakes, but it's even better when there's purpose. Otherwise, it feels like it's there just to be there.

A nearly nude Maggie is discovered in Jessica's bed, claiming to have hooked up with Jessica's boyfriend Kyle (Matt Lanter), although he doesn't seem to be around. Maggie calls it payback, since she knows Jessica slept with Megan's boyfriend.

Does this mean that Jessica slept with Garret? He's really not her type. Or was it just some random, different boyfriend? It's unclear to me.

It's not very clear, but I'd be willing to bet it was a different boyfriend. And Garret doesn't seem to be Megan's type, either. 

A fight between Jessica and Maggie is interrupted by Mrs. Crenshaw appearing with a shotgun and whacking Jessica in the nose, something she's had coming for four years. Jessica inadvertently reveals that "we killed Megan" both to Mrs. Crenshaw and the nearby Maggie, and that she has also told Kyle about it.

Informed that so many people are dead, Mrs. Crenshaw tells the girls to wait in a bedroom while she goes slasher hunting. The slasher catches her instead.

Why is Mrs. Crenshaw walking around with a shotgun even before she knows people have been murdered?

I get it that they want to make the character look as badass as possible, but it ends up being silly. She blows up the place, completely in vain. Seems unnecessary and too staged to me. Poor Mrs. Crenshaw.

The girls are supposed to call the police, but nobody knows where their phones are, so they end up venturing out into the house, where they're attacked by the tire iron-wielding, Molotov cocktail-tossing killer as well.

Soon Jessica and Cassidy are confronted by Kyle, who's wearing nothing but a black cloak and his socks. He gets extremely aggressive with them in an effort to "keep this from getting out"; attacking them, chasing them, even chopping through a door with an axe. He may not be wearing pants, but it definitely seems like Kyle is the killer.

During this sequence, Megan's death is finally confirmed: her decomposed corpse is hanging in the bathroom.

Things are looking dire for Jessica and Cassidy when Andy shows up - even though Cassidy had sent him away earlier - and protects his girlfriend by killing Kyle.

Kyle isn't the first person to be killed by Andy. Andy is the film's slasher, out to eradicate Cassidy's fellow Theta Pi girls and anyone else who knew what happened with Megan in an effort to free his girlfriend from the secret and from the horrible company she has kept. Ellie told him the secret, and she's one of the last people he has left to kill.

As the house burns down around them, the surviving girls have their final confrontation with Cassidy's psychotic significant other. One of the final shots is of pictures of the sorority's history going up in flames.

Then there's an ending sting: Theta Pi, fifteen months later. Megan is a sister, and a gardener outside the new house as a scar on his wrist. Implication that Garret is still alive and possibly a threat.

I like the fact that the remake is basically different, with only a few elements in common. One thing that I remember about my first Sorority Row viewing is that I felt a little confused. I thought it was because of all the girls at first, but that wasnt it. Even though it's a simple story, like in the original, something about the pace and how the story's told is a bit off when it comes to the remake. The "confused" feeling was only there the first time I watched it, though.

Sometimes it's important to keep certain elements and characters intact when making a remake, but in other cases all you really need is the basic concept. That's how it was with The House on Sorority Row/Sorority Row. I'm glad the screenwriters took only the idea of "sorority girl prank gone wrong" and then built something totally new around it.

However, I do find the end result to be kind of lacking and off-putting. This is largely due to the characters being some of the most horrendous, unlikeable people ever gathered together in one film. It's not the cast - Leah Pipes actually gets some fun moments out of the despicable Jessica - but the people they're playing are horrible. I was glad to see each of them killed off. Their bad qualities overwhelm everything, so that Briana Evigan's heroine barely makes an impression.

There are two problems, as far as the characters go. One is that most of them are largely unpleasant. Chugs is the worst, extremely disturbed and nasty. But even Ellie, who's supposed to be a good girl... she's weak, lame, annoying and pretty much useless till the very end. Also, every time I see Rumer Willis, they try so hard to make her look pretty, it doesn't work. Hair extensions, wrong makeup. Just let her look the way she does. It'd be much better than trying so hard.

The other issue is that they're not well developed. Even the most awful characters would've been somewhat better to watch if there was more depth to them. The fact that there are "too many" characters to follow is deeply felt, which never happens in the original movie. 

Beyond the appalling characters, the movie is also an assault on the eyeballs in the daylight scenes. Everything is too blown out and hideous. The look gets better at night, an overabundance of orange and teal aside.

It is a little too blown out, but it doesn't get to me all that much. And I love the bubbles/flare gun scene, I think it looks great. It also one of my favorite death scenes in the movie.

At times, Sorority Row feels like as much of a remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer as of The House on Sorority Row. I mentioned the taunting messages made me think of that film, and when the cloaked slasher is doing his killing, he even looks a lot like the I Know What You Did Last Summer killer did in his black slicker. Put Ben Willis in the place of Andy and you have I Know 4ever.

I can see where you're coming from, and I agree. But thinking about it further, I actually think the remake feels more similar to Scream, actually Scream 2, for the most part. With the sorority, and even the possibility of more than one killer. It's never obvious, and it isn't the case, but Garret and Maggie would've made an interesting killing duo if you think about it.

Sorority Row is a decent enough slasher with some amusing moments, and I appreciate that it wasn't just a repeat of the original's story... But the original had a much more interesting story, and less ugliness from its characters and cinematography. The remake isn't a movie I'd feel like watching very often, while the original could be one that I revisit regularly.

When I saw the remake for the first time, I hadn't seen the original yet, so I had nothing to compare it to. I enjoyed it and it made me want to see The House on Sorority Row even more. Now that I can compare the two of them, I give the original the edge, and see myself wanting to watch it more often than the remake.  Still, the remake is a good horror movie that I'll watch every now and then, plus... the pimped out tire iron is awesome. There are some really bad remakes out there, but Sorority Row 2009 isn't one of them.


  1. Somehow, I haven't seen the original. The remake definitely reminds me of a I Know What You Did Last Summer. And since that's a rip-off of Scream, it only makes sense that it would remind you of that, as well. By the way, it's true that Carrie Fischer's big moment makes no sense, but I quite enjoyed seeing Princess Leia wielding a shotgun.

    1. Priscilla and I urge you to check out the original. If anything, to see the real Sea Pig, since that line makes no sense in the remake. Here´s hoping that one of the upcoming Stars Wars spin-offs will be a grindhouse-style revenge film entitled "Princess Leia with a Shotgun".

      - Cody