Director: Joe Castro
Year of release: 2003
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 75-80 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "A psychotic killer...loose in the sorority..." and "The most popular sorority on campus...they're dying to get in!"
Also known as: The Hazing
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Eager to join a college sorority two girls Barbara and Lynette agree to go through a series of hazings or initiations in order to become accepted members of the group. The two sorority sisters putting them through their paces decide that for the final task the girls must spend twenty four hours in what is believed to be a local haunted house. The building in question currently lies in a state of disrepair after previously being used as a carnival style spook house. Going ahead with the test Barbara and Lynette settle in for the night but unknown to them the sorority sisters and their boyfriends have plans to visit themselves to give the girls a good scare. What all the kids fail to realise is that the building is currently the home of a crazed masked individual, a lunatic who doesn’t take too kindly at all to being disturbed for the evening.
Good points: The plot is simple and easy to follow and is very reminiscent of previous genre films so fans will feel right at home. Granted it’s pretty much a straight rip off story wise of slashers we’ve seen before most notably Hell Night but most slashers borrow from one another to some degree and although it is more pronounced here I still mostly enjoyed the story for what it was. It didn’t try to be too smart or clever and thus end up coming across as confusing as some films do that endeavour to be more ambitious. It instead was just a nice easy to follow story following the well worn slasher template.
The director, one Mr Joe Castro has a background in special effects and he manages to put these abilities to use to good effect at times. It does look a bit fake and cheap on occasion but overall I felt they managed to make the most of what was probably a very low budget. Even if it doesn’t always come off they’ve put a lot of effort into many of the murders to make them look as cool as they could. They try hard to give us a lot of gore and the kills are quite varied as well which helps. In this regard it’s a fun film and even when things look a bit too fake regarding the deaths it comes across in a charming comical way more than anything else which raises a smile. For example early on the killer cuts off someone’s head off (a homeless man I think) but hardly puts any force behind the action, it’s like a knife through butter or something but it’s funny to watch. Later on a female meets a similar fate and it appears that the blade wasn’t even pressed to her throat properly. These sound like negatives but the point I’m trying to put across is that even when it’s bad it still merits a laugh and mostly the effects are solid for such a low budget project.
The killer looks rather menacing and the mask isn’t too far away from that of Michael Myers so good stuff though the rest of the outfit is not patterned on the Myers look. Instead the killer appears to be clad in some sort of blanket like poncho together with sandals I think or possibly just bare feet. Can’t remember the exact details but I do recall the killers outfit being quite interesting. The whole package comes across as being intimidating and the moaning and crying noises add a creepy touch. We are also provided with a satisfying unmasking towards the end. There is a decent little backstory for the killer as well provided by the Pizza Boy. I felt the way he delivered the story was a little unrealistic as he was speaking for a bit too long, more like a recital which didn’t feel entirely natural to me. The delivery could have been improved with the insertion of some coaxing or questions from the main group to get him to spill more information. That said I was pleased they made the effort to provide a backstory.
The haunted house location looks okay and though we don’t see more than a handful of rooms and corridors the one with the hieroglyphics stood out. The house certainly served its purpose and also looked impressive and imposing from the outside establishing shots. .
Bad Points: With this being a very low budget SOV style film it does have a bargain basement look to it which may be off putting to many. For people coming in with the mindset of not generally liking more amateur style films this won’t do anything to win them over. It isn’t all that well lit either and it does seem a bit too dark inside the house at times though having said that when the lights go out I didn’t feel it really got much darker so at that point at least it isn’t as bad as it could have been.
The acting isn’t very good at all really as you would expect with such a low budget affair. On top of this it’s kind of embarrassing sometimes how stupid the characters act like the owner of the house Mr Braxus when he falls over while investigating strange noises. It looks more like he just throws himself over. Like I mentioned with some of the kills though this could be interpreted as more funny than being a problem.
Another issue I noticed was that the pizza guy is really adamant that they can’t do anything to override or get past the “security system”. This supposedly triggered behind him when he entered but it turns out to simply be a locked door. Surely they could have kicked that down though if all of them had worked together to do so? It’s an old house after all not in the best shape not Fort Knox.
It was a bit silly at the beginning as well that the homeless man wondered inside the house on the mission of looking for someone to feed him. Why would he do that though if the house was supposed to be abandoned or at least in the process of being refurbished? If anything he would go inside to sleep overnight.
Jenny doesn’t even hide when she and her friends are planning to jump out and scare the pledges. She merely presses herself against the wall! In fact the efforts to scare the girls are all very lame and just come across as pitiful.
I didn’t like the scene at the start where the sorority sisters make the pledges do squishy push ups and give them a paddling. It’s reminiscent of something from Jim Wynorski and seemed a bit too much like a bad soft core porn movie and came across as embarrassing. I could perhaps be in the minority in thinking this though as I could see others maybe liking this scene.
Lastly I thought it was stupid how the two boyfriends seemed to get so excited over the fact that they had managed to install spy cameras inside the bathrooms and bedrooms of their girlfriends. I mean it was their girlfriends they were watching after all who they could presumably see naked anytime so I don’t know why they were making such a big deal about it. It would have been better if they were spying on one of the pledges or a third sorority sister they both secretly fancied.
Verdict: This is a film a lot of people are going to slate and dislike because of how cliché and similar to Hell Night it proves to be story-wise. It all looks very cheap as well which doesn’t help but despite these things I found it to be a fun and reasonably entertaining film. It is fairly short as well so never drags and to be fair I found I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. Due to the production values it will most likely only appeal to hardcore slasher or low budget horror fans so anyone else probably need not apply. It’s a bit of harmless if silly fun for some of us though.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Homeless man: Stabbed and head cut off.
2)Mr Braxus: Falls over and is stabbed in the hand. Is then stabbed repeatedly with part of his face cut off.
3)Barbara: Stabbed in both the arm and leg. Face then bashed with a pipe.
4)Blonde boyfriend (Darren?)Stabbed in the stomach and guts puled out.
5)Jenny: Head cut off.
6)Dark haired boyfriend (Antony?): Stabbed repeatedly in the face.
7)Daphne: Eyes ripped out and arm snapped in half.
8)Pizza Boy: Face bashed in with pipe.
9)Rebecca Epstein: Shot in the forehead with a handgun by Lynette.