HARD TO DIE
Director: Jim Wynorski
Year of release: 1990
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 81 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Also known as: Sorority House Massacre 3 and Tower of Terror
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Two young women employed by a lingerie company are roped into carrying out a stock check and records review on their day off while the shop is closed to the public. To aid them they’re joined by two agency girls and a new employee, a recent hire of the sleazy owner of the business.
The five set to work but are soon disturbed by the arrival of a delivery guy dropping off a mysterious box. After they realise it was meant for a nearby museum and was sent to them in error they return to work while trying to avoid the weird janitor Orville Ketchum. Our heroines are wary of Ketchum due to his rumoured involvement in the Hockstetter murders of the previous year which left a number of sorority girls brutally slain.
Due to a mix up with some boxes of lingerie stock brought up from the basement the box intended for the museum is opened by mistake which winds up containing and thus releasing the soul of Hockstetter. The evil soul looks to take possession of a human host to facilitate another bloody rampage.
Good points: *Unlike Sorority House Massacre 2 which was completely separate from number 1 and didn’t follow on at all Hard to Die very much has the feel of a sequel. It slots in very nicely next to the middle film and the two could and probably should be watched as a pair. The main connection is the return of the Orville Ketchum character, this time in an even more prominent role than before. On top of that British final girl Robyn Harris/Gail Thackray is back on board though this time playing a different character. Similarly Melissa Moore is also back after a stint in part two again playing a different character. On top of this the cop team of Lt Block and Sgt Shawlee return along with Jim Wynorski at the helm. Wynorski also makes a cameo this time in front of the camera. Overall this has the feel of a proper sequel which is important after the disappointment previously of part 2 not having anything to do with the original.
*I like the location this one took place in as I think the office/shop style setting made for a more unique and interesting backdrop than just the old house seen in the previous films. Having just said that there is an element of confusion as it isn’t all that clear if this is actually supposed to be set in an office block or some sort of big department store ala Hide and Go Seek. Seeing that the girls were supposed to be doing a stock take for a lingerie business you’d think a shop/store but in actuality it looked more like a big office block to me. Either way it makes for a refreshing change with there only being a handful of slashers set in these type of environments certainly at the time of release anyway. This one also has guns introduced towards the end which again injects a bit of freshness.
*This is a fun movie in general and despite being very silly and unrealistic at times it has a cheesy charm about it. I found myself entertained throughout and though it’s clearly no masterpiece the charm and sense of fun meant it never became an arduous watch for me. The Dawn character was likeable as well as final girl so she helped it tick along and run smoothly. Orville Ketchum himself is fun to watch despite the absurdity of the character just because of how gormless and clueless he looks. It’s a double edged sword with him as he annoys me as well but at points he did entertain me. Adding to the humour was the boss character Brad who was pretty funny albeit in a very limited role.
Bad Points: *Needles footage is shown once again from the Slumber Party Massacre which they try and clumsily pass off as scenes from the original Hockstetter rampage. It was bad enough that this was done last time but to have it thrust on us again here is doubly annoying. On this occasion it didn’t even make sense for them to show it as at the time they were referring to the massacre from the second film not the original Hockstetter killing spree. They could just have shown some of the kills from number two instead as long as they were careful not to show anything of the two returning actresses.
*There is a funny oversight near the beginning where clearly only four of the five women are seen going down in the lift to the lower floor. When they reach the floor below and exit the lift however the fifth girl is among them as if she’d been in there the whole time when we blatantly just saw that she wasn’t.
*Mild spoilers: As was the case with the second film the Orville Ketchum character takes a massive amount of damage but just doesn’t seem capable of dying. It’s bordering on slapstick Home Alone type damage when it comes to what he can soak up. Whatever he endures he takes little to no long term damage which makes things feel like a cartoon at times. This wouldn’t be so bad if he were a Jason type in his latter more zombified state but here no explanation is given as to how he has such extraordinary recuperative powers. He’s supposed to be possessed by a spirit I know but even so he makes for a flesh and blood host that would still be fallible and unable to get up after a certain point.
*Probably due to a small budget the kills are disappointing and there is very little to speak of when it comes to gore.
Verdict: Of the three Sorority House Massacre films this is easily my favourite. It falls into the guilty pleasure category to some extent for me as despite being cheap, low on special effects and unrealistic I still find there to be a very fun vibe running through it. It’s super lame and cheesy but mostly entertaining throughout and enjoyable because of how tacky it is. It also has the feel of a true sequel being closely linked to the second film so they’ve made an effort to fit it properly into the series this time which is something I always appreciate.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Tess: Killed with hook in the storeroom/basement.
2)Female: Another hook kill this time while she was waiting for Chinese food to arrive.
3)Chinese food delivery girl: Falls down a lift shaft after being set on fire.
4)Female: Killed in crossfire as Dawn and Dianne are shooting at each other with machine guns.
5)Brad: Shot with machine gun.
6)Policeman: Same as Brad above.
7)Dianne: Takes a lot of abuse including falling down a lift shaft but is ultimately killed by repeated gunfire.