Whenever a modern filmmaker takes a stab (heh-heh) at a slasher film, I’m always a little nervous. Seems these days that everyone wants to remake one of the hits (and occasionally, even misses) of yesteryear, sometimes for the artistic merit, sometimes for nostalgia; sadly, however, it’s all too often simply to “remake” some o’ those greenbacks that the originals pulled in all those years ago. With that in mind, I tend to approach modern slashers like one would approach a pissed-off chihuahua; you know it’s not gonna do you any real harm, but you’re still not anxious to get nipped. I always keep my expectations low, and I’m seldom disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there have been successful (and even impressive and original) slashers made in the last few years (The Hatchet films, the pair of Wolf Creek movies, House of 1000 Corpses, and Camp Dread come immediately to mind; there are, of course, others), and there have been, I’ll somewhat grudgingly admit, some of the remakes that haven’t been too bad.
Die Die Delta Pi is an indie film I’ve had the recent opportunity to watch, and I have to say that while I didn’t see anything particularly new, I did see a respect for the subgenre, and a nice effort to recapture some o’ that old black magic from the early ’80s.
In 1986, the Delta Pi sorority at Sun State University are gearing up for Spring Break, and not even reports of strange murders near the campus is going to sway them from their partying. This includes preparing for their annual ritual bonfire where they initiate new sisters into the fold. One such initiate, Marissa, is not well-liked by the deliciously-gaudy Valley Girl rejects that compose the rest of the sorority, but her mother is a legacy, and thus she’s automatically accepted. Not to be forced into letting such a girl into their spot on the pecking order, a couple of the meaner girls come up with a plan to keep her in her place; the catty college girls dream up a humiliating prank to pull on poor Marissa that evening at the event.
Unfortunately, their plan of pasting her with that old staple concoction “Silly String” doesn’t fly well coupled with the raging bonfire; the stuff is as flammable as napalm, and poor Marissa goes up like a cheap balsa wood model soaked in gasoline. Most of the assembled Delta Pi girls (as well as the Kappa brothers who’d been in attendance) haul ass, leaving the horribly-burned girl to her fate, but one guy has the decency to attempt to get help, running back to the sorority house to call for assistance, only to find everyone their brutally murdered. It’s during this shock that he too meets his grisly fate at the hands of a knife-wielding maniac.
Flash forward to the present day; Donna Parker, one of the last of those Delta Pi’s that had been there that night, has pushed the incident out of her mind, having avoided going back to the house (and thus, the killer) along with a few of the other girls. She’s bringing her own daughter, Diana, to begin her college years at Sun State University, but has advised her to stay out of sororities. Of course, mom’s advice lasts until she’s out of sight, and Diana and her friends are quickly drawn to the soon to be reopening Delta Pi Sorority. At their very own traditional bonfire to jump-start all of the old traditions, stories of the near-thirty-year-old massacre are told reverently. These stories of the past may have some roots in the present, however, as one by one, the girls of Delta Pi (the new ones, and some survivors from ’86) begin to fall prey to the vicious whims of a familiar-attired killer. Suddenly, it’s up to a couple of the girls from 1986 who survived to become women to try to end the terror in the present-day…
Let me try out my psychic powers…at least some of you Fellow Fans are thinking….wait, it’s coming to me….it’s five words…I’ve got it! The House On Sorority Row. Sure, there are similarities; I told you up front there wasn’t really anything new here…but what is here is a solid, well put together effort at making a real slasher flick. All of the elements are here; staple characters, nostalgic feel with characters from past and present crossing paths, a goodly bit of gratuitous nudity, and most importantly, some nice, gory kills. For a low-budget indie effort, the gore effects are impressive and over the top; just as they should be in a slasher flick. I give credit to the filmmakers for their efforts to not fix what’s not broke, and just make the kind of film a slasher fan wants to see, taking us back to the basics and having fun with it.
It is a bit of a slow-mover at times (and it’s not a long movie, hell, the intro is 15 of it’s 78 minute runtime), and one problem I had was not always knowing who these women in modern times were supposed to have been in 1986…maybe that’s just an attention lapse on my part, but I’d suggest paying attention to names at the beginning. Also, remember folks, it’s a low-budget, independently financed slasher film; the acting ranges from community-theater level to pretty decent, and the production values show the budgetary constraints at times.
Still, even with it’s shortcomings, Die Die Delta Pi is a fun little slasher flick…let’s be straight with each other: if you’re going into it expecting A-list acting, an original, thought-provoking script, and/or award-winning cinematography, it’s likely that you’re not a slasher fan in the first place, and hey! There’s nothing wrong with that; I can give you a pretty good list of other films you’d enjoy more.
However, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool slasher fan, I’m thinking you’ll find some stuff that you’ll enjoy in this one.
I liked it, but that’s me.
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