The 1980's are synonymous with great horror movies- many of the Hall of Famers got their slashing starts when the majority of us were still in school and even the slightest reference to the early to mid 80's can take us back to a time when the VHS market was flooded with killer entertainment (pun intended), and we as horror fans ate it up- both good & bad. Unfortunately, some of the bad ones are firmly cemented in our memories like a bad dream, although even while bad, we cold always enjoy them for what they truly were, an attempt to scare us to death.
1981 was the year, and Linda Blair was 8 years removed from her iconic role as the possessed Regan in the all-time classic, The Exorcist, and had taken lesser roles in films since then, so she accepted the role of good girl Marti Gaines who is attempting to pledge her way with others into Alpha Sigma Row, and in order to prove allegiance to this band of stuck-up rich kids that are living the fat college life off of mommy & daddy's money is to spend the night in Garth Manor, the site of multiple murders years ago by the head of the household, Raymonde Garth. His wife and children (who suffered physical deformities), were all led to slaughter by the patriarch, who shortly afterwards took his own life.
The rules are simple, stay in the mansion overnight until sunup, and your pledge time is complete...but as we all know too well, things will NOT transpire as smoothly as hoped or planned. Peter, the acting Prez of Alpha Sig, has rigged the mansion before the overnighter with multiple mechanical devices in order to make the pledges stay a most displeasing one. Well, it's not long before the best laid plans go to hell quite quickly, as it appears to be an outsider (or is it an insider ?) starts to dispatch our collegiate partygoers, one by bloody one. The kills are less than spectacular in fashion, but some are accomplished with fairly decently infused jump scares. The scenes are predominantly shot in darkness, with minimal lighting to enhance the scream factor when the killer commences his working ways.
The latter reveal of the killer's identity comes as a fair surprise, no real shockers here, but it is the property that acts as the real star. The mansion itself, with its sprawling estate in full vista, takes ahold of your eyesight with its numerous underground tunnel shots and even more impressive set decoration over 3 different shooting locations. I always believed that a finely put together surrounding enhances what a slow paced movie can strive to drag down. Linda Blair is her usual knockout self, emitting a bookish cuteness that will have you wanting to brush your teeth after due to her sweetness (her ample pulmonary cavity pushed up in her Halloween costume isn't bad either !) 80's wild children Peter Barton (Friday Pt IV) & Vincent Van Patten (Rock & Roll High School) offer performances that are dormant at best, but it doesn't detract from the fun factor that this movie brings to the table - without a doubt, good for a midnight watch....but just keep telling yourself....it's not the 80's anymore, as much as some of us would like it to be.