Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sorority House Massacre II (1990) dir. Jim Wynorski

Logline: A sorority buys a new house for cheap, disregarding the fact that five years back a madman murdered his entire family there. Now someone is picking off the gals one by one and yeah you've probably figured out how these things go by now, huh?

Crime in the Past: So this part is pretty incredible: the inciting Crime in the Past for this Sorority House Massacre II is re-used footage from the film that this duology sort-of spun off from, Slumber Party Massacre. Literally the entire climax, cut down to about two minutes of footage. Except, it's not as if Jim Wynorski's film is purporting to be a direct sequel to the first Slumber Party Massacre-- instead, Sorority House Massacre II takes the footage and creates a totally new story for it. The mildly iconic Driller Killer is now the coincidentally identical Hokstedter, a man who goes mad, hides under a rug, and kills his whole family (the slumber partiers are now his daughters). What a sublime display of Jim Wynorski's insatiable desire to save a dollar or two.

Bodycount: 6, never to shower topless or wear thongs with nighties again.

Themes/Moral Code: Haha.

Killer's Motivation: Though the film tries to convince us throughout that the killer is the greasy, obese, raw meat-chewing neighbor/Jess Franco stand-in Orville Ketchum (Peter Spellos), it--of course--is not. The killer is Hokstedter's ghost, summoned by a Ouija board and possessing the body of Jessica (Melissa Moore). Why not? Hokstedter kills because that is what he does. His ghost is also very agile, slipping into Linda's body and then Ketchum's before the credits role.

Final Girl: Linda (Gail Harris), who sports an English accent and is one of the two non-blondes, is our final girl. She spends the majority of the film complaining and being a scaredy cat. Not bashful in the least, she's topless about as often as the rest of the ladies, so it's nice that the film doesn't condemn her for that, I suppose (though, nix that, she does die at the end). She gets the requisite "gosh, we're making a slasher film in 1990" metamoment when she spouts: "I feel like I'm in a horror movie." And despite her shaking knees, she does emerge as a heck of a brawler in the final act, kicking the crap out of the much larger Ketchum (pronounced, apparently, "Ketchup"), who she believes to be the killer. Really, she does a number on him-- strangling him, Slave Leia-style, with a chain and smashing his head repeatedly into a porcelain toilet. And she does it all while only wearing panties and a belly shirt, too.

The Good, the Bad, & the Cheese:  Jim Wynorski is an interesting fellow. Having recently seen Clay Westervelt's documentary on the man and his filmmaking philosophy, Popatopolis (2009), I now have a certain appreciation for Wynorski's lack of scruples and boundless enthusiasm for trash cinema. (For one, I adore the fact that the man's kitchen cupboards are full of VHS tapes rather than food). His films, especially some of the early ones (like 1986's robot slasher extravaganza Chopping Mall), are fantastic romps with a smidgen of satire lacing them. But the man has directed nearly a hundred films over only thirty years, so (like with his spiritual filmmaking sibling Fred Olen Ray) we're lucky if even a few of them are any good. Sorority House Massacre II is not one of those rough gems. It doesn't have anything at all to say thematically, and I would guffaw at anyone who described it as a "romp," but I suppose it's not totally without its own skewed charm. It is a Wynorski film, so it features his usual obsessions: tall busty woman (mostly blonde), toplessness (failing that, the skimpiest of lingerie), big fat sweaty men, cheap murder scene cutaways, the repurposing of footage from other films, and constant stock establishing shots. Part II features the corny humor that's all but absent from Part I, much to its (ever so slight) benefit. (My favorite pun issues from a sorority girl mistaking an "Irish name" for an internal organ: "Colin? YUCK!"). At the same time, it's a great deal more exploitative than its predecessor; here, the shameless leering at massive mammaries is undoubtedly intended to excite. But it's a sort of objectification that's hard to be offended by-- other than being able to watch all of these (much too old) college girls take showers and run around barely-clad, the film lacks any other sexual content. In fact, prominent male characters total in at exactly two, so this is clearly more the ladies' show anyway, which means all of the near-nude gallivanting is fairly innocuous. This is the first and only '90s slasher I've covered this month, but being filmed so close to the end of the previous decade prevents it from distinguishing itself in any meaningful way. It's stupid, trashy, cheesy, and cheap-- which, in some ways, makes it a perfect summation of this month of on-a-budget murder. Farewell, Slashtober-- I've sent you out with a meat hook and an oversize brassiere, and I know you wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

No comments:

Post a Comment