Horror films, traditional 80s movies from the slasher boom, to supernatural, found footage, cannibal, comedy horrors and zombie films.

Sorority House Massacre II

Five sexpot sorority sisters track down a real estate bargain…a downmarket California mansion that they can put in a low-ball offer for without an inspection? That’s just speculation on our part, as the abode in Sorority House Massacre II: Nighty Nightmare is a real fixer-upper. In real estate parlance, it has “good bones,” but nothing else (nothing else except…BAD MOJO…ominous cackle).

Little does the fivesome know, there’s a heavy breather neighbor peering at them behind his drapes across the way. Luckily, the girls busy themselves tackling beer and tequila and within the first 7 minutes, the Greeks* are given the particulars about the “old Hokstedter place,” by one of their own, a Goth-lite named Janie.

The new sorority digs was “the best they could do for the money,” and we know what that means in horror. But that’s the first of their (many) mistakes, the others being, taking part in elaborate seance (and in the midst of a nasty storm to boot) and letting their greasy neighbor in to regale them about how the bodies were found.**

This is pretty audacious, gonzo film-making. Director Jim Wynorski, a year after making the send-up, Transylvania Twist (featuring a self-parodying Angus Scrimm in Tall Man form) returns to helm what is a straight-ahead slasher with a, uh…twist: flashbacks from a different movie entirely. Yes, as the girls get backstory aplenty, it’s paired with flashbacks from The Slumber Party Massacre! Guess oversights like this can be expected when a film’s entire production took about a week and a half.

Sorority House Massacre 2 follows the girls-in-a-house motif, established in Black Christmas, and carrying on through Halloween and up to any number of seemingly interchangeable “massacre” movies.

There is lots of door jiggling, a basement animal trap, which became a hallmark of horror in the 2000s, and of course, copious screaming.

Not much to be said about this sequel, but it does feature a few Wynorskian touches: to wit, lingering, and what some might call gratuitous, shower and strip sequences.

** (out of 5)

(*Fraternity/sorority colloquialism; **reiterated by a cop: it was a “real butcher job, body parts were scattered all over the house, fingers in the sink, scalps on the mantel, guts cooking on the oven.”)


Chopping Mall

What beats a lightning bolt as a plot device? It’s been used to catalyze countless sci-f plots. And that’s all that’s required to make robotic security personnel go haywire in Chopping Mall, a film that features a whole lot of mall, and not much in the way of chopping.

The brainchild of genre icon Jim Wynorski (who gave us, among other titles, Sorority House Massacre II, Big Bad Mama II, and The Return of Swamp Thing) Chopping Mall has as its source material, a narrative that has a long and storied past in the world of dystopian fiction: a clarion call about the warning of technology gone awry.

With some futurists warning as recently as September, 2017, that about half of all jobs will soon be automated, this is a deep well to draw from to this day, and puts Chopping Mall ahead of its slasher genre-mates, with which it shares some structural similarities.

In the 80s, shopping malls were coming into their own, eating up suburban real estate and becoming de facto community centers and hang-out spots, supplanting the drive-in a decade prior, and the malt shop before that.

In Chopping Mall, management for a run-of-the-mill mall install a new robotic security system. They’re basically assisted living scooters crossed with Dr Who Daleks (minus the bubbles), but with a more aerodynamic shape and slitty lit-up “eyes.” They’ve been programmed to ask questions first (“ID”), and shoot later. Unfortunately for some after-hours mall staffers, as well as some teen partiers, this functionality gets buggered and backwards by electrical short.

So let the killings begin!

Teen furniture store staff conspire to drink beer and engage in sexual hijinks after-hours (after all, they’ve got it made when it comes to beds). The crew includes the legendary Barbara Crampton as Suzie, and Kelli Maroney (Fast Times at Ridgemount High) as Alison. And there is also some fratty canon fodder and the requisite nerd.

They must test their mettle against the killer bots (this film was initially released as the more accurate, Killbots).

A Julie Corman production (she of Candy Stripe Nurses and the terrifically buggy, The Nest, which we podcasted), Chopping Mall has some cheeky, overt references to other films, such as Eating Raoul, a Really Awful Movies site favorite.

And it’s equally as fun.

***1/2 (out of 5)