Frat House Massacre
Director - Alex Pucci
Cast - Rane Jameson, Chris Prangley, Jon Fleming
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - $19.95
Distributor - Synapse
Reviewer - Bobby Morgan
The Film: 1/5
The year is 1979, but you’d be forgiven for thinking the time was now since little or no effort was made to replicate the feel of the late 1970’s. Delta Iota Epsilon is the most exclusive fraternity on campus. Rushing the frat can be a bitch both physically and mentally - the hazing rituals include bare-ass paddling and being forced into mock crucifixion poses- but once you’re in a whole new world of deviant delights is yours for the asking: the booze flows like Niagara, there are more drugs on hand than in Mickey Rourke’s medicine cabinet, and the school is bursting with enough horny co-eds ready and willing to jump the boners of a D.I.E. brother to give the Dalai Lama major tent pole action. But there’s a catch: those who rush the fraternity but aren’t accepted into its ranks are savagely murdered and the deaths swiftly covered up before any questions can be directed at Delta Iota by the authorities.
College freshman Bobby (Rane Jameson) is preparing to join his older brother, and D.I.E. member, Sean (Chris Prangley) for the start of the fall semester but finds those plans tragically sidetracked when he falls into a coma following a car accident. Sean decides to carry on with his life and return to school and the open arms of his Delta Iota brethren, but when he objects to the fraternity’s methods of dispatching those who don’t live up to their standards of committed brotherhood D.I.E. president (and reigning douche bag on campus) Mark (Jon Fleming) orders him to be killed and his bloody remains fed to hungry pigs. Sean’s death brings Bobby out of his coma and, encouraged by his adopted mother Olivia (Merle Peter), he sets off for the school to begin his studies and hopefully find out what happened to his brother. Oddly enough his assigned roommate is Michael (Michael Galante), Mark’s Eli Roth-looking younger brother. The two of them become fast friends, ensuring Bobby’s acceptance into D.I.E. Unfortunately for Mark and his homicidal followers they’ve got some killer competition now as a masked psychopath is haunting the school and members of the fraternity start meeting increasingly violent ends. The rising body count causes dissention in the Delta Iota ranks and members to quickly turn on each other. The killing spree culminates in a wholesale slaughter at a D.I.E. drink, dance, and screw soiree. Who is killing off the future data rapists of America the Beautiful? Is it a vengeance-crazed Bobby? One of many women used and abused by Mark and his cult of testosterone-pumped buttheads? More importantly, why is Olivia calling Bobby “Sean”? The answers may surprise you if you still give a shit by the time the movie is over.
There are bad horror films, and then there’s Frat House Massacre. Among the many attempts by the newest generation of gorehounds-turned-filmmakers to churn out movies frightening enough to unnerve their desensitized peers this is one of the downright worst. Director Alex Pucci set out to emulate the blood-soaked psychoramas he grew up watching obsessively in the 70’s and 80’s, but in doing so completely forgot why those movies were made in the first place ($$$$$$) and failed to learn from their copious flaws. That doesn’t stop him from piling tons of gruesome mayhem, college decadence, and gratuitous nudity on top of his paper thin plotline. Of course that nudity is mostly of the male variety, but I highly doubt the intended target audience for this movie isn’t also the key demographic for Glee. Nonetheless Frat House Massacre joins the ranks of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Jeepers Creepers 2, and The Lost Boys as one of the most unintentionally homoerotic horror flicks ever made despite the fact that it contains none of the goofy entertainment value those movies had coming out of their leather studded thongs. It also lacks sympathetic characters, a cohesive story, and a single shred of originality. Granted a movie can have none of those things and still be at the very least a fun watch, but Frat House Massacre is a depressing and overlong series of sketches featuring grating characters living out scenarios rife with misogynistic behavior and slasher movie clichés.
Yeah let’s talk about that running time. This movie is 116 minutes long, just four minutes shy of two hours. Think about that; what the fuck did the people involved in the making of Frat House Massacre think they were doing? What movie about a killer knocking off frat boys needs to run almost as long as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? The overweening ego of the director (with the assistance of his crew) would not let him see that when you’re making a slasher movie and your first murder sequence doesn’t occur until more than an hour in you have made a tragic error in creative judgment. Once the first death (a girl gets a knife in the mouth, Psycho II-style) happens the blood and guts start flying with increased frequency, but by then the damage has long been done. There’s not even a sense of originality in the gore gags; even the more elaborate death scenes are ripped from far better flicks. The misogyny in this movie angered me at times. There are no meaningful female characters to be found in Frat House Massacre; all the women here have no purpose other than to be used for sexual playthings and then handily disposed of. One poor women gets beaten up and treated to a golden shower courtesy of that charmer Mark. Even worse, when they aren’t being fucked senseless the girls act like they’re contestants on some godawful reality show that isn’t worthy of being aired on a cable channel people actually watch (I’m looking at you, Style Network). None of the performances were anywhere in the vicinity of decent. I’ve seen better acting on the average CW show.
Something interesting could have been made from this sorry excuse for a movie. The idea that college fraternities are becoming more like Fight Club would make a good story for a filmmaker intelligent enough to know how to best exploit it. Now that I think of it, your time would be much better spent watching Fight Club. The ending of this movie made me feel like smashing my DVD player. This is no tribute to the best of late 70's/early 80's horror, this is an amateurish piece of work that isn't even good enough to carry the water for the worst of that era.
The version of Frat House Massacre presented here is the director’s cut, running over twenty minutes longer than its theatrical version. It’s quite apparent that Pucci knows nothing about how horror movies should be paced and edited. He thought he was making The Shining, but he ended up with something worse than The Happening.
The movie is presented in a relatively clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that does it’s pitiful attempt at replicating the look and feel of vintage slasher flicks as much justice as it can. Ditto the 5.1 Dolby Digital English audio track which makes every line of banal dialogue and the slavish music score by Claudio Simonetti, the Italian exploitation movie composer best known for playing keyboard for the prog-rock geniuses Goblin, come through with near-deafening clarity. No subtitles are provided.
The bonus features kick off with a pair of commentary tracks with director Alex Pucci, writer Draven Gonzalez, and various members of the film crew. You won’t much filmmaking insight on either of these commentaries; they tend to heed closer to making bad jokes, commenting on the on-screen action, and endless amounts of backslapping. The same could be easily said for the 14-minute featurette “The Making of Frat House Massacre”. Lastly we have a collection of fourteen rightly deleted scenes (21 minutes), but there should have been way more here and way less left in the actual movie.
The best horror films made in the past five decades were mostly the result of years of tireless work, boundless imagination, and professional ingenuity by visionary independent filmmakers. Alex Pucci and his sordid and insipid exercise in masturbatory genre worship Frat House Massacre will never be included in that distinguished club. Maybe the movie is supposed to simultaneously express his desire to be accepted by his heroes of horror filmmaking and his fear of rejection by those same masters of celluloid carnage, with Pucci as the hapless fraternity pledge and George Romero, John Carpenter, and David Cronenberg forcing him to strip to his tighty whities and endure their mocking and torture before chopping him up into tiny pieces and feeding them to large pigs. If that’s the case then Pucci’s disturbed psyche would make a infinitely more horrifying film than Frat House Massacre.