Original vs Remake: House on Sorority Row

House on Sorority Row (1983)houseonsororityrow

  • Director: Mark Rosman
  • Writers: Mark Rosman, Bobby Fine
  • Main cast: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Christopher Lawrence

‘How about if we give her a good old fashioned sorority prank?’

After graduating, a group of sorority girls pledge revenge on their strict house mother. They plan a parting prank to teach her a lesson, but things quickly get out of hand and – despite their best efforts to cover up their mistakes – they soon find themselves the victims of a bloody revenge plot.

View the trailer here

Sorority Row (2011)sororityrow

  • Director: Stewart Hendler
  • Writers: Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger, Mark Rosman (original screenplay)
  • Main cast: Briana Evian, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis

‘Please don’t think I’m afraid of you. I run a house with fifty crazy bitches!’

A prank gone tragically wrong binds five sorority sisters in a twisted lie. Eight months later, the truth starts to catch up with them…

View the trailer here

I enjoyed House on Sorority Row, but in the grand scheme of 1970s/80s slashers – or indeed even sorority-based slashers of that period – it doesn’t particularly stand out. It drags a little in places, and the characters aren’t particularly engaging. There’s an unusual psychedelic sequence towards the end that I really enjoyed, which added to the tension effectively, and the ending is further strengthened by its uncertainty – the story isn’t wrapped up neatly, reminding me of the original Black Christmas, which makes the film more unsettling.

(A side note. Having re-watched the second scene of House on Sorority Row (the first scene that takes place in the sorority house) a couple of times, I fervently believe that it must have inspired the first scene of the romcom Legally Blonde! Watch 02:38 – 04:45 of House on Sorority Row and then the first few minutes of Legally Blonde (here) and let me know what you think!)

2011’s Sorority Row has a lot going for it! The opening premise is great – evocative and deeply unpleasant. Well-executed death scenes, a brilliant cameo from Carrie Fisher as the badass house mother, and an explosive finale elevate it above a number of other modern slasher flicks of a similar ilk (e.g. Valentine). Leah Pipes as queen bitch was extremely enjoyable, and there’s a decent bunch of actresses playing the other sorority sisters. The biggest downside is that – in my opinion – the final reveal is pretty disappointing.

While House on Sorority Row is an enjoyable offering, it’s the (loose) remake Sorority Row that I can’t help but re-watch whenever the opportunity presents itself, and that wins this Original vs Remake for me!