Trust. Secrecy. Solidarity. Loyalty. Sisterhood. These are all common phrases and mantras surrounding the mysterious and intriguing institution of the sorority. Sorority Horror is an fascinating sub-genre of horror films that seeks to give little glimpses into what may potentially happen behind those closed doors. Or at least…what outsiders think might be happening.
While there are certainly a lot of films that take place on college campuses, there seem to be more that focus on the sorority versus the fraternity. What could those girls be up to? The process of the initiation, rushing, hazing and hopefully acceptance is one that is not only entwined in the college experience, but also drenched in mystery and allure. So let’s pull back the curtain a bit and take a look. Here are 10 of the best Sorority Horror Movies:
10. Hell Night (1981)
Quaaludes, Jack Daniels, Linda Blair and a plot that fuses The House on Haunted Hill with a slasher flick. In order to gain acceptance into their preferred Greek house, four pledges must stay the night in the infamous Garth Manor. Of course, these four co-eds are in for a long night as they soon discover they are not alone…
Tagline: “Pray for day!”
9. Killer Party (1986)
Plenty of pranks, possession and pledges abound in this film with a surprisingly awesome title card. Oh, and did I mention, there’s a special guest appearance by the band White Sister!?
Tagline: “By the end of the dance, some of the sorority sisters were dead on their feet…”
8. Sisters of Death (1976)
When a potential new member is killed during the initiation into their super secret all female sorority like society, the girls soon find out they cannot run from their past. A quick watch (clocking in at only 87 minutes), this film helps set the stage for a lot of films on this list. While certainly not a great film, it is a fun one and provides the blueprint for many sorority centric films to come.
Tagline: “Don’t bother to scream…there’s nobody to hear you…except your killer!”
7. The Initiation of Sarah (1978)
This made for TV movie has been commonly referred to as ‘Carrie Goes to College,’ and rightfully so. With an impressive cast featuring Morgan Fairchild, Shelley Winters and Kay Lenz, this film centers around Sarah (the Carrie figure) and her perfect sister Patty. Both are pledging to sororities, and to no one’s surprise, Patty gets into her mother’s alma mater, while Sarah is shuffled off to a less lucrative house. Oh yeah, and did I mention Sarah has telekinetic psychic powers. I feel like you probably already know where this is heading…Better than it should be, perhaps due to the fact that Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play) was one of the writers.
Tagline: “She was born with devastating psychic powers, and she’s forced to unleash them in a shocking finale!”
6. The Initiation (1984)
This combo slasher/sorority horror movie hits all the right notes for fans of these 80’s genres. A pledge initiation prank leads the young girls into a situation that none of them could have anticipated in, where else, but a mall. We are introduced to Daphne Zuniga (Melrose Place, Spaceballs) in the film in her first lead role. The incredible and timeless Vera Miles (Psycho) also graces the screen. These two women combined make this movie worthwhile, as well as a few twists and unique kills you may not see coming.
Tagline: “They pledge themselves to be young, stay young…and die young.”
5. Sorority Row (2009)
It’s rare that a remake as well as the original appear on the same list, but here we are. Sorority Row is a remake of 1983’s House on Sorority Row. While similar in plot, this one does take its own path and manages to create a film that pays tribute to its namesake while standing its own ground. In true early 2000’s style, the cast features reality star Audrina Patridge (The Hills), famous child Rumer Willis, and an inexplicably good cast member with Carrie Fisher playing the House Mom. When it comes to actual sorority horror, yes there’s boobs, blood, lingerie and drinking, however this film really emphasizes the bond of sisterhood and the hold that can have on a member. The sorority is not just a setting for a movie to happen around here, it does play a crucial part in the film and therefore solidly deserves its place on this list.
Tagline: “Theta Pi Must Die…”
4. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)
I’m not going to pretend this is a good movie…but it is an awesome one. Two girls pledging to a sorority must go with a group of horny nerds and steal a trophy from the local bowling alley in order to gain admission into the house. Soon they encounter the tough talking Spider (played by Scream Queen Linnea Quigley) and unwittingly release an imp who has been trapped inside the bowling trophy for years. An insane 80’s take on The Monkey Paw story, this film is one you really have to see to believe. Cast also features Robin Stille as the HBIC (Head Bitch In Charge) at the sorority and Brinke Stevens as one of the pledges. Both appear in Slumber Party Massacre as well and are faces that are great to see on screen together again in this film.
Tagline: “In a bowling alley from hell…there’s only one way to score…”
3. Sorority House Massacre (1986)
All the best parts of sorority horror coupled with bits of Halloween and Argento can be found in this film. The film is written and directed by Carol Frank and it’s the only writing and directing credit she has to date. Frank was the assistant to Amy Holden Jones (director of Slumber Party Massacre) and it’s easy to see the influence this experience must have had on her. Not quite as sleazy as the title would have you believe, and yet just as low-budget as you can imagine this film would be. An interesting take on this small sub-genre of horror and a decent slasher to boot.
Tagline: “A slash course in absolute terror!”
2. The House on Sorority Row (1983)
Here we go. This is the film that really encompasses the idea of sorority horror. A group of sorority sisters, involved in a prank gone terribly, horribly wrong. But what are a group of young girls full of potential to do? Well, cover up the crime obviously. All of this amidst partying, dancing, drinking and flirting obviously. The main group of women in this film do a great job and their acting is surprisingly convincing and believable. It’s no wonder that Eileen Davidson who plays the HBIC Vicki would go on to spend decades on soap operas such as Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless. Oh yeah, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Of course, the girls cannot escape their past and become hunted by an unknown assailant. A killer slasher that will leave you guessing and scratch that sorority itch all at the same time.
Tagline: “Sorority Sisters…Sisters in Life. Sisters in Death!
1. Black Christmas (1974)
A truly groundbreaking and important film in so many different ways, Black Christmas stands firmly in its position at the top of this list. The girls of Pi Kappa Sigma have been terrorized by obscene phone calls from a mysterious stranger for weeks now. Then, their sorority sister Clare disappears. It’s not long before fear really begins to set in and the police can no longer ignore the girls pleas for help. What ensues is a cat and mouse game between the sorority sisters, the police…and the killer. Where this film really gains points is in the depth of its’ characters and the underlying stories that run throughout it.
The late Margot Kidder plays the tough, boozy, yet loving Barb who steals every scene she’s in and has the best death in the film by far. Olivia Hussey plays Jess; a woman torn between her future and her present. Faced with an incredibly tough decision she navigates the situation in a way that was not commonly portrayed in film in 1974. All of this and a now infamous horror movie trope that would come back with 1979’s When a Stranger Calls and into the mainstream with Wes Craven’s 1996 Scream. A slow burn that has all of the best parts of sorority horror, without all the filler garbage that’s often added in to titillate audiences. A film that will leave you unsettled, entranced and in awe, Black Christmas is number one for a reason and should certainly not be missed.
Tagline: “He knows when you’re sleeping, he knows if you’re awake…HE KNOWS…”