Some movies just force the viewer to ask, “What would you do?”
I mean, just consider what it would be like to be in the scenario that’s presented to us in the 1990 film, Sorority House Massacre II. You’re a college student. You’ve got your entire future ahead of you. The president of your sorority has just purchased a new sorority house and she wants you and three others to spend the weekend helping her fix the place up.
You arrive at the house and you discover that it’s literally on the verge of collapsing. There’s no electricity. There’s no telephone. (And remember, this is back when people just used landlines.) There’s no hot water. Soon after arriving, you’re informed that there’s two reasons why the house was being sold at such a cheap price.
First off, there’s the neighbor. He’s a creepy, kinda pervy-looking guy named Orville Ketchum. When Orville comes over to meet his new neighbors, he announces that he has the keys to the basement. He reaches into his pants to retrieve them. Ewwww!
Secondly, it turns out that the house isn’t just any deserted house. It’s the old Hockstadder Place! Years ago, Mr. Hockstadder killed his daughters before dying. Orville witnessed the whole thing. As he tells the story, you might notice that the flashbacks are lifted from a film called Slumber Party Massacre, despite the fact that you’re starring in Sorority House Massacre II.
Despite all of that, you still enter the house. A storm is rolling in and, whenever you look out the window, you see the same lightning stock footage that has appeared in a countless number of cheap horror movies.
When you and your friends decide to explore the basement, you find a Ouija board. You know that Ouija boards can be dangerous but everyone else wants to run upstairs and use it. Someone suggests that maybe the board can be used to contact the spirit of Hockstadder. After all, according to Orville, Hockstadder swore that his murderous spirit would never leave the house and would possess anyone who tried to move in.
At this point, you have two options.
Do you say, “Okay, obviously, it’s not a good idea to contact the spirit of a murderer — especially one that said he would possess anyone who tries to contact him — so I’m going to go ahead and leave now?”
Do you light some candles, strip down to your underwear in front of a bunch of open windows (despite the fact that weird old Orville is right across the street), sit on a filthy floor, and try to communicate with the spirit of a homicidal maniac?
The smart option would be the first one so, of course, the characters in Sorority House Massacre II do the exact opposite. Then again, nobody in Sorority House Massacre II appears to be that smart. For one thing, they’re all in their 30s and they have yet to graduate college. Trust me, I wish I could have stayed in college forever but, at some point, you really do have to either graduate or drop out. Tuition’s not cheap.
Anyway, Sorority House Massacre II is one of those movies that just amuses me to death. There’s absolutely nothing subtle about it. It’s such a blatant exploitation film that you can’t help but admire it for not pretending to be something that it isn’t. (At the same time, it’s rather tame when compared to the movies that we’re used to today. Whenever someone is killed, obviously fake blood is squirted on a wall.) This may be a stupid movie but it’s very sincere in its stupidity and there’s something to be said for that.
Add to that, Peter Spellos is memorably weird as Orville. The way he delivers his lines makes Orville into the neighbor that everyone would dread having next door. In the end, though, it’s a good thing that Orville was there.
Finally, there is one surprisingly effective moment. The movie starts with the “final girl” huddled in a dark room, begging the unseen killer to remember who they are. The movie then flashes back to that morning, with the girls standing in front of the house. The abrupt cut from darkness to the bright and sunny morning is surprisingly effective and feels almost dream-like. Though one gets the feeling it was probably unintentional, it’s still works far better than you’d expect.