Follow TV Tropes


Film / The House on Sorority Row

Go To

The House on Sorority Row is a 1983 Slasher Movie and one of many released in the wake of other popular Slasher Movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was moderately successful when it was released and is now a cult classic among fans of the genre. It got remade in 2009 as Sorority Row with Carrie Fisher in a prominent role.

The story revolves around seven college girls staying in a Sorority House. It's the end of the year and all seven girls are graduating, planning to hold a huge party in the house at the end of the week. Unfortunately for them their house mother, the imperious Mrs. Slater, forbids it. For some reason, she always closes the house on the same date every year before the other college houses close. The girls plan to get their revenge by pulling a little prank which backfires and ends up getting Mrs. Slater killed. Panicking, the girls hide the body in the pool and continue with their graduation party. Meanwhile, someone is stalking the people at the party and murdering them with Mrs. Slater's own walking cane. Perhaps Mrs. Slater is Not Quite Dead after all?

Provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Well, handle, as it is used to kill almost all of the victims.
  • Alpha Bitch: Vicky was clearly one of these in high school. And she's still close to one these days.
  • Asshole Victim: Mrs. Slater, Vicky and Dr. Beck.
  • Beta Bitch: Liz is this to Vicky.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Dr. Beck.
  • Big "NO!": Mrs. Slater's reaction in the opening flashback when she hears what happened to her newborn baby. It echoes too.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Three blondes, three brunettes and one redhead.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Mrs. Slater's cane. It's used quite a bit to further the plot.
    • Vicky's boyfriend's gun as well.
    • Also, the clown costume.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: Let's see there is the sorority girls accidentally killing Mrs. Slater and trying to cover up her death, a killer on the loose and finally a doctor trying to cover his own crime.
  • Creator Cameo: Film's director Mark Rosman appears as a party guest playing the piano.
  • Creepy Basement: Where Stevie is killed.
  • Creepy Doll: There are several shown in the attic. Additionally, there's a creepy jack-in-the-box.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: Mrs. Slater is the housemother and a good portion of the movie is spent wondering if she's the killer. She isn't.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Inverted. The Final Girl is the only one who actually goes snooping around.
  • Damsel in Distress: Katherine initially, though she takes on a proper Final Girl role eventually.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Double subverted. We see Diane in the car and Genre Savvy viewers expect her to get killed. However, she leaves the car for a moment when she hears a noise, but then climbs back in, where she is quickly dispatched. Later on, Liz gets her throat slashed as soon as she gets on the van by herself.
  • Deadly Prank: Involving a gun that accidentally shoots Mrs. Slater dead.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: A well-done example as the film does a good job of establishing the relationship between the girls and their house mother before the slasher plot kicks in. Though people who've read the synopsis will wonder when Mrs. Slater is going to bite it so the plot can start.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Beck.
  • Dumb Blonde: Morgan seems to be pretty ditzy.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The film ends with Eric's eyes opening, showing that he survived.
  • Fainting: Morgan faints when a corpse falls on her.
  • Final Girl: Katherine is the last person to confront the killer.
  • Foreshadowing: Katherine finds a clown costume during her first trip to the attic. Guess what Eric dresses in when he attacks her in the finale?
    • There's also a scene early in the film where Mrs. Slater smashes Vicki's face in a framed photo of the sorority girls with the sharp end of her cane. Guess how Vicki dies in the film?
  • Gender-Blender Name: Stevie is one of the girls.
  • Genre Blindness: Stevie and Diane really should have known better than to go down into the pool cellar and garage alone. Also, Katey leaving Jeannie alone when she'd just been attacked.
  • Hidden Depths: An early scene has the girls thank people over beer. During this confessional, it's revealed that Diane is going to law school, Stevie is going to become a flight attendant for Pan Am, and Liz is from a wealthy family.
  • A House Divided: The house gets divided into those who want to come clean about Mrs. Slater's death, and those who want to keep it hidden.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Jeanie is killed with the same knife she was going to defend herself with.
    • On a larger scale, the girls' prank results in Ms. Slater's death, which means she can't take her mentally unstable son home and he winds up killing nearly all of them.
  • In the Back: Morgan is impaled through the back by the cane while distracted by a jack-in-the-box.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Eric, who has an unspecified disability due to his traumatic birth, is the killer.
  • Instant Sedation: Averted. Dr. Beck injects Katherine with a sedative, but she’s still up and running for the last 20 minutes of the film. It’s only until after she stabs Eric and pushes him out of the attic, that the sedative seemingly takes effect.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: When Mrs. Slater barges in on Vicki and Rick during their foreplay and pops Vicki's waterbed with her sharp cane.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Much of Vicki's motivations for hiding Slater's body are self-motivated and she seems to not understand why anyone else — namely Katey — would object or be reluctant to go along with her plans.
    • Additionally, Dr. Beck seems more concerned with his reputation than capturing a mass murderer who has already killed seven people when he attempts to use Katey to capture Eric; he straight up says that if the news of his involvement in Eric's disability and subsequent escape got out, his business would be ruined.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: The group separates at various points (such as Stevie going down to the basement, Morgan pulling a Screw This, I'm Outta Here when Slater’s body turns up again, Diane being left alone at the garage, etc.), which leads to the killer picking off the girls one-by-one.
  • Moment Killer: Mrs. Slater barging in on Vicky and Rick, see above.
  • Monster Misogyny: Six female victims, two male victims.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Beck, who tries to cover up his own skeletons in the closet.
  • Mushroom Samba: After Katherine is given the "mild sedative" by Dr. Beck, she starts seeing very weird things on two occasions.
  • Not Quite Dead: Subverted in the case of Mrs. Slater, who actually is as dead as she appears. Later played straight with Eric, who is seemingly killed only to open his eyes in the last shot of the film.
  • Off with His Head!: Jeanie is killed this way.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: While the exact specifics of his mental disabilities are unclear (aside from the fact that were spurred from both a traumatic childbirth and Dr. Beck's fertility treatments), Eric appears to be quite childlike if the attic is an indicator of anything. Also, he's the killer.
  • The Reveal: Mrs. Slater's baby wasn't stillborn, he was just horribly deformed and mentally unstable, and she took him home every year on his birthday. It's him who's been killing the girls.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Seemingly Eric's entire motivation, as his killing spree is against the people who accidentally killed his mother. Though given his instability, it's unclear how fixated on the motive he actually is.
  • Same Language Dub: Lois Kelso Hunt's (Mrs. Slater) voice was dubbed over because the voice wasn't "scary enough".
  • Samus Is a Girl: Gender flipped. The killer is thought to be female, but turns out to be male.
  • Searching the Stalls: Happens when Jeanie takes refuge in the bathroom.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Stevie's death in the basement.
  • Sinister Sorority Sisters: Though house mother Mrs Slater is a jerkass, the girls still accidentally kill her and cover it up, and a sizeable majority of them don't want to come clean about it. A lot of them are also very bitchy and unpleasant to each other.
  • Slashed Throat: Happens to Liz with a hammer's nail removing claw.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Three blondes in the group. None of them survive.
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: The killer is Mrs. Slater's unknown son Eric who was born mentally unstable and physically deformed. We don't find this out until roughly the final fifteen minutes of the film.
  • Too Dumb to Live: JEANIE loses her head for no good reason while chased. She twirls losing time and flushes the toilet while being on the run from the killer. Unsurprisingly, she loses her head literally too.
    • Though to be fair, getting attacked and chased by someone trying to kill you doesn't always leave you in the right headspace.
  • Uncertain Doom: With the reveal that Eric is still alive in the closing moments of the film, it's unclear if Katey survives after all since she's both exhausted and incapacitated (having been drugged with a sedative before her confrontation with Eric), though Eric is wounded as well. So, in theory, it could go either way.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A simple prank leads to the death of Mrs. Slater and the psychological break of her son Eric, making him kill most of the sorority girls.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used when drugged-out Katherine is running from Dr. Beck.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Peter is shot with a tranquilizer gun by the doctor, mistakenly thinking he's the killer but is otherwise not seen again.
    • Vicky's boyfriend is last seen asking where his gun is about halfway through the film.
    • The body of the partygoer killed near the pool is never seen after their death scene.
  • Wild Teen Party: A wild college party, which allows for a couple of victims to disappear without anyone really noticing at first.