Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Anchor Bay's SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE DVD: No Need to RSVP for This Event Unless You're a Fan

Sorority Party Massacre (2014 - DTV)

Rent the Movie or Buy the DVD

The Movie

Ever since THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE used its shocking name to scare up business on the drive-in circuit, the tactic of using "Massacre" in the title of horror movies to try and drum up interest has held strong. Probably the best film to do this was SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, which despite its title, was actually a rather witty satire of the genre with a feminist leaning. It also went on to spawn two sequels and a glut of unofficial sequel/knockoffs like the SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE series. The most recent film to take a stab at sneaking its way into the "Massacre Series" is SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE, which, like many of its ilk, has no connection to any of the aforementioned series.   

The premise of SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE is simple enough:
An isolated town full of sexy college girls has a dangerous secret: one girl has gone missing each year for the last 20 years. A big-city cop, in danger of losing his badge, agrees to aid the town’s sheriff in investigating these unsolved disappearances. Quickly they realize that they are dealing with a psychotic killer whose brilliance has been twisted into a taste for terror, torture and sorority sister torment. But when this party gets started, who will graduate – and who will be held back?
However, for a film with such a straight-forward plot, SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE's narrative is actually quite convoluted. Beginning with an opening sequence that is lifted almost directly from the original SCREAM (something confirmed by listening to the Directors' commentary), the film then slides down the slippery slope of attempting to be a complex murder mystery. Without giving away too much, we are constantly presented with a parade of characters who are red herrings for the killer. This, in itself, is not a bad thing, but it's just done so haphazardly here. There's no suspense or shocking revelations; just the cinematic equivalent of a new character pulling the old SCOOBY DOO de-masking routine every five to ten minutes or so during the film's final third.

And that's another problem with the movie - it's just too damned long. With an almost 104-minute running time, there's just too much unneeded material here. In fact, I would wager that SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE would be a much better film were it about fifteen minutes shorter. This would fix the pacing issues and probably force the film to cut a lot of the scenes that just don't work at all; many of which are a result of a failed mixture of comedy and horror.

Don't get me wrong, comedy and horror can work together. But, in order for that to happen, there needs to be an appropriate balance, and the tonal shifts should not be jarring. The movie should either be a comedy with horror elements (a la SHAUN OF THE DEAD) or a horror film with some comedic touches. It's hard to achieve, and SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE is proof of that. Scenes jump from serious horror/mystery moments to hokey spoof-like sequences throughout the film. Lots of low-brow country-bumpkin jokes, toilet humor, etc abound, and for me, almost none of them worked.

Still, not everything about the film is bad. There are some decent performances - with several underused (probably due to budget) film vets like Leslie Easterbrook and Richard Moll - and the technical aspects of the film are better than a lot of its straight-to-DVD brethren, but having a cast and crew who know what they're doing is only a part of the equation. An engaging story is a must, and sadly, that's missing here.

I've seen a lot worse, but that doesn't mean that I will probably ever want to watch SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE again. The long running time, uneven tone, and lack of fun just left me bored throughout. If/when the film hits Netflix Instant, feel free to give it a go. Who knows, maybe it will work for you. However, I can't recommend this one as a rental or blind purchase, and I can't say that I have any desire to see the forthcoming sequel this film sets up in its post-credits sequence - BACHELORETTE PARTY MASSACRE (yup).

Movie Score



Anchor Bay brings SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE to your home in a surprisingly feature-packed DVD. Though it's not labeled as a "Special Edition" of any sorts, the disc includes a commentary track and about 35 min of other material. 

Video Quality

As far as video goes, SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE is your standard DVD fare. With an average bitrate of around 3.5 Mbps, this is far from HD quality, but on my Blu-ray player, upscaled to 1080p, it looks decent enough. I honestly don't think that a Blu-ray transfer would improve the film at all, so this is just fine.

Audio Quality

As with the video comments above, the audio on the film is just fine. With a 5.1 AC3 track (448Kbps), you shouldn't expect your house to shake apart while watching. However, the audio is just fine, with decent surround activity and clear separation, so you can bet that it sounds just as intended.

Extra Features

Here's where the SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE DVD surprised me. I figured it would be a barebones disc, since it's not very high profile, but there's actually a decent amount of extras here. The commentary is easily the best, though if you're a fan of the film, you'll probably enjoy all of them.

  • Feature Commentary with Directors Chris W. Freeman and Justin Jones: This is easily the best part of the package. The Directors talk pretty candidly about the film, how it was made, and their experiences. It's never too technical, and they don't leave many pauses. Surprisingly, they are also pretty open about discussing the movie's shortcomings and they acknowledge things like the overlong running time and unnecessary exposition, etc. At times, they seem to disagree on some things, which might explain why the film doesn't quite flow properly. Honestly, it's nice to hear the filmmakers being honest and open about their movie, and I hope that they learn from their experience.
  • Behind The Scenes Featurette (~11 min): Your standard BTS fare; with interviews, random video footage, etc. It seems like the cast and crew had fun making the movie.
  • Deleted Scenes (11 min): Several scenes that were cut from the film. Given that it already suffers from an overlong running time and tonal imbalance, I can say that the film wouldn't be any better with these left in.
  • Outtakes (~10 min): A blooper reel that's probably funnier than the actual jokes in the film
  • Barney Lumpkin Campaign Ad (~1 min): Ed O'Ross hamming it up. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE is not a good movie. However, Anchor Bay's DVD of the film does it more than enough justice. With a decent A/V presentation, and a surprising amount of Special Features, fans of the film should definitely purchase the disc. 

DVD Score


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