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(aka "House of Evil" or "Seven Sisters" or "Screamer")

 

directed by Mark Rosman
USA 1983

 

Seven sisters of the Theta Pi sorority are graduating and they want to throw one last bash to remember; however, housemother Mrs. Slater (Lois Kelso Hunt) always closes up the house on the same day every year, and she does not want the girls staying on. When Mrs. Slater catches alpha female Vicki (Eileen Davidson, TV's THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) with her boyfriend and slashes her mattress, Vicki decides that not only are they going to have their party, but the sisters are going to get even with her for four years of misery. Unfortunately, a real bullet finds its way among the blanks Vicki loaded into a gun she got to scare the old bat and now there's a body in the swimming pool. Good girl Katherine (Kate McNeil, MONKEY SHINES) wants to call the police, but Vicki convinces her and the other girls to hide the body and press on with the party. Mrs. Slater won't stay down, it seems, since her body disappears from the swimming pool and someone begins stalking the girls with the aged housemother's lethal walking stick.

A late entry into the slasher craze (well, the theatrical phase), THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW was writer/director Mark Rosman's - previously first assistant director on Brian DePalma's student-crewed HOME MOVIES - attempt to put a Hitchcockian spin on a commercial formula (by way of LES DIABOLIQUES). While the girls indulge in the usual sex, drugs, and pranks, they are not targeted for their morals (or for behavior mirroring a previous generation who somehow scarred our killer), they are targeted because they are culpable in a crime. There's nothing that will surprise seasoned slasher viewers and the gore effects are pretty restrained (although a random party-goer gets the cane jabbed in his throat to bloody effect simply because make-up effects artist/extra already had a cast of his own head handy), but it is still one of the stronger and more entertaining entries in the slahser genre with some soap opera-ready bitchiness from Davidson (only her Vicki and McNeil's polar opposite "final girl" Katherine are developed characters, but the script also equips Harley Jane Kozak with a handful of tart quips before she goes off on her own into the dark garage to be stalked and slashed). The film was shot in Baltimore (with some John Waters alums in the crew) and acquired by Edward L. Montoro's Film Ventures International - and eventually released by sister company Artists Releasing Corporation - whose post-production department brought on composer Richard Band (RE-ANIMATOR) to score the film (temp-tracked with Bernard Herrmann and Pino Donaggio cues) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (who would also perform Band's score for Film Ventures' MUTANT, on which Rosman was the initial director), and the store is one of the film's lasting elements.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 21 January 1983 (USA)

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing (Katarina's Nightmare Theater) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:31:12
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.95 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Playable with optional KATARINA'S NIGHTMARE THEATER opening and closing segments
• Audio Commentary by director Mark Rosman, moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters
• Audio Commentary by stars Kate McNeil and Eileen Davidson, and director Mark Rosman
• Interview with star Harley Jane Kozak (41:35)
• Alternate Ending (0:39), Storyboard to Film Comparison (4:37), Still Gallery,
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:57), 4 TV spots (4:3; 1:44)
• Katarina's Nightmare Theater Promo Reel
• DISC TWO:
• Interview with actress Kate McNeil (16:9; 14:22)
• Interview with actress Eileen Davidson (16:9; 7:12)
• Interview with writer/director Mark Rosman (16:9; 22:21)
• Interview with composer Richard Band (16:9; 45:14)
• Interview with producer Igo Kantor (16:9; 10:10)
• Trailers for FINAL EXAM, DOUBLE EXPOSURE, INCUBUS, TERROR, and HUMONGOUS

DVD Release Date: January 24th, 2012
Amaray

Chapters 14

 

Comments

NOTE: The Blu-ray is reviewed HERE.

Scorpion's progressive, anamorphic transfer was transferred from an HD master of the original internegative, and it looks lovely (only one shot after a reel change exhibits some wavering, possibly from sprocket damage). The Dolby Digital mono sound is also very clean without any noticeable hiss or digital noise reduction artifacts. The feature is accompanied by two audio commentaries. The track with director Mark Rosman and actresses Kate McNeil and Eileen Davidson dates from the 2010 Liberation special edition (which reportedly featured an interlaced transfer) which went out of print quickly. The track is humorous, but also detailed with a lot of information imparted by all three participants. Rosman explains his reasoning for the film's original ending and the funding issues (including having to do without dailies for several weeks after bouncing checks with Technicolor, and borrowing $7,500 from an orthodontist relative), while McNeil and Davdison reminisce about the night shoots, the difficult living situations (a bat-ridden campground), and their relationships with the other cast members.

Scorpion recorded a new commentary track with Rosman (moderated by hostess Katarina Leigh Waters). There is plenty of overlap with the previous track and some of Rosman's anecdotes seem delivered almost verbatim, but it is a more structured talk with more scene-specific comments (although less entertaining). Also on disc 1 is a new forty-odd minute interview with actress Harley Jane Kozak, who spends the first half discussing her memories of the film. She also discusses her subsequent film work (including ARACHNOPHOBIA and THE TAKING OF BEVERLY HILLS) as well as her work as a novelist (she also contributed an essay on the film and its remake SORORITY ROW for the 2011 book BUTCHER KNIVES AND BODY COUNTS). The film's alternate ending is depicted through a series of still photographs with commentary from Rosman, and is ported over from the Liberation edition, as is the storyboard-to-film featurete. Disc 1 also features a lovely-looking trailer and four TV spots (the latter were not on the previous edition).

Disc 2 features new video interviews with Rosman and actresses McNeil, and Davidson conducted by Waters. There is a little overlap, but the interviews give more detail about what each of them are doing now (Rosman had finished the "William and Kate" TV movie shortly before the interview, McNeil has a degree in special education and is working with children, and Davidson - who recently left the soap THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS - is working on her fifth mystery novel). Disc 2 features two more interviews not conducted by Waters. Richard Band discusses his work on HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW for the first half a forty-five minute interview before talking briefly about his subsequent scoring assignments (including his Empire Pictures and Full Moon Pictures work for his producer brother Charles Band). Igo Kantor was the in-house producer and post-production supervisor for Film Ventures International and discusses the collaboration with Band (and the London Philharmonic) and the changes he made to the film's ending (as well as his speculation on the whereabouts of Film Venture's Edward Montoro, who disappeared shortly after Film Ventures went bankrupt) in a ten minute interview.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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