A quick experiment: go and turn on all the lights in your house. I would lay good money on the fact that, as you walk round, everything is pretty brightly lit. Sadly, if you lived in the sorority house in “Lizzie Borden’s Revenge”, everywhere in the house that’s not your living room would be engulfed in murk, with most of the corridors being in complete darkness. Why do films like this insist on spending so little on lighting? Or just refusing to turn on all the normal lights in the places they’re filming?
For those of you who would watch a film with a title like this and know nothing about it, we get a swift recap of the Borden story – took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks, gave her father 41, financial woes, etc. Playing Lizzie is Jenny Allford, fast becoming an ISCFC favourite despite being in maybe the worst film we’ve ever reviewed, “Captain Battle: Legacy War”. She does a pretty good job of expressing how rotten a woman’s lot was back then, but everything around her works against the good work she does – a house which looks zero like a late-Victorian home and comically bad axe-and-blood special effects being just two. In case you’re wondering, from this limited information, if this is going to be some feminist tract, it absolutely definitely isn’t.
The same two or three scenes are flashed back to throughout the movie, but the majority of the film is the present day, set in a sorority house. It’s…probably…Lizzie’s old house, as one of the sisters is obsessed with the story, but it’s honestly not that important. Caught drinking (the horror!) they’re given house arrest while the rest of their sorority goes on Spring Break. And I mean house arrest – locked doors, barred windows, the lot. Unfortunately, their jailers (the University? A weird local judge? Their sorority sisters?) didn’t think of clearing out all the booze – one of them has a couple of bottles hidden in her laundry, and there’s a room they go into regularly which has a fully-stocked wine rack in it (presumably not meant to be part of the film).
Writer / director Dennis Devine has made a lot of films with very similar plots – group of women, often of college age, trapped in a building, soft-core nudity, supernatural villain. Seriously, check his IMDB page out – from 1990’s “Dead Girls” to 1999’s “Vampires of Sorority Row” to 2008’s “Don’t Look In The Cellar” to 2010’s “Alice In Murderland” to the upcoming “Nazi Dawn”. Good on him for keeping making money, I suppose?
The women in this film are the most interesting thing, though – they can act! Aside from Allford (who keeps popping up, after being summoned via a séance, to kill the ladies), the strongest are Marlene Mc’Cohen, Tiffany Mualem and Ginny You. Okay, they’re not all great, but in a film which is set inside a series of ugly rooms, with no lighting, they’re a great deal better than they have any right to be. The script ought to be given credit, too, as the characters are well-defined, and there’s a lot of funny stuff in it (and not so-bad-it’s-funny, either).
So, strong cast, decent dialogue. The problem, sadly, is everything else. Best guess, the film was shot in a bunch of different buildings – all the different rooms don’t look like they belong together, and doorways are always shot so you can’t see what’s on the other side(at least they bother trying to mask it, I suppose). For what appears from the outside relatively small, it’s got endless corridors and a cellar which a medium sized shipping business appears to be using for storage.
The women, while being strong actors, are treated very poorly by the movie. As they decide to have a “slumber party”, they’re clad in their nighties / underwear throughout – one of the women, Mindy Robinson (an exceptionally busy actress, going by her IMDB page) enters the movie topless, as “that’s how I sleep”. There’s a completely unerotic lesbian scene too, featuring Robinson and former porno actress Veronica Ricci…The women complain a great deal about how there’s no men there to help them too, which just sounds stupid in 2014. Well, it always sounded stupid, but it’s pretty indefensible now.
If you’ve seen literally any slasher film, you’ve seen this one. But, the truly frustrating thing about this film is there’s the kernel of a genuinely good film in there. Ditch the creepy stalker guy who is like the C story, spend a little more time and effort finding sets that look like they belong in the same house (and then light them properly), treat the characters like human beings and this could have been a sleeper success. The script and acting are usually the things films like this fail miserably at, so to have one which succeeds but then throws it away on stupid stuff is no good.
Rating: thumbs in the middle
- Saint James Films! Makers of Captain Battle and Agent Beetle! How did I end up watching another of their films? Still, it looks like this was their last, and it’s from 2013, so maybe they’ve gone out of business! Oh happy day!
Revised rating: thumbs up for killing Saint James Films