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Film Review: Frat House Massacre (2008)

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Set in the late 70s, this gritty and twisted film taps the physical and mental underpinnings of the meaning of the word “brother” in a way reminiscent of the best of late 70s grindhouse and early 80s slashers.

Written by: Draven Gonzalez 

Directed by: Alex Pucci 

Starring: Rane Jameson, Jon Fleming, Niki Rubin, Lisa DiCicco, Chris Prangley 

In the late 1970s, a pair of brothers – one in college and the other just getting out of high school – are at odds with each other over whether the young’un should stay home to celebrate a birthday, or head out with his friends in their Cheech & Chong van to party. He chooses party, and the van winds up being hit by a drunk driver, which lands him in a coma. Big bro goes back to the fraternal college life at Delta Iota Epsilon (DIE…get it?), and Pledge Week gets a little too outta control for his tastes – seems he doesn’t care much for muuuurrrrrder – so his protests land him in hot water with his sadistic frat brothers, causing him to feel their wrath as well. As he’s gasping his last breaths, faster than you can say FREAKY FRIDAY his spirit zippity-zaps into that of his comatose brother, waking him suddenly from his long winter’s nap, and bickety-BAM – he goes to college. Not for a higher education, mind you – this is all about the big payback. And suddenly, we’ve got us a bloody revenge flick to kick back with and enjoy! 

Not too often that I get too open about my past, but…ok, who am I kidding here? I love talking about myself so much sometimes that I’m actually shocked that Craig doesn’t refer to Craig in the 3rd person these days. Wait…never mind. Anyway, I remember back in the day – senior year of high school when we were all on the college hunt – going to different places and thinking to myself, “I wonder if there’s a Western Sizzlin’ close by – I’m kinda hungry.” Then, after I finally ate, I’d think to myself how cool it must be to be in a fraternity. After all, the movies made frat houses back in my day made the fraternity life look so kickass – from all the hazing (now illegal, sadly), to the games, the stature, the respect, the parties, and of course – the tons of hot women always hanging around them. I quickly made up my mind while on the college hunt that I was definitely, beyond the shadow of any doubt, becoming a frat boy as soon as I hit college. 

Welp, some things just weren’t meant to be. Small town community colleges don’t have room for frat houses, and by the time I got out of there to a University, I found a sweetassed apartment that I wasn’t going to give up. So while I never really officially joined a frat, I was surrounded by them and crashed many of their parties and still wound up having some hellacious fun (some things, I actually even remember) and still had the luxury of being able to stumble back to my own home where I made up my own rules, which equals no complaints from me at all, once I really think about it. 

Director Pucci crafted a winner here – sure, there’s some plot holes and things and characters I would have loved expanded on that were more or less left behind after awhile – but in the end, there are fewer holes and I have fewer complaints than I’ve seen and had with any of the interchangeable Platinum Dunes remakes, so that’s always a plus. He also showed that with 1/3 the budget spent on Shia LeBeouf’s hairdresser that you can make a kickass horror film with clothes and cars and music (real 70s songs, mind you) accurate to the era, and tell a good story while you’re at it. Keep an eye on this dude in the future – you’ll be thanking me later. 

You want to know about acting? I had a couple of raised eyebrows in the beginning, but everyone seemed to get comfortable and settle into their skins by about the 20 minute mark, and really impressed me. The girls were beautiful, the guys were cool, neither gender had problems taking their clothes off for the camera (males and females both win this time), and I must say that Jon Fleming as the douchebag leader of the murderous frat gang, Mark, turned off his pretty boy charm and channeled the sadistic – really good actor with a bright future ahead of him, in this announcer’s humble opinion. 

I also want to send a special shout out to a friend of a friend – the way beyond gorgeous and talented Tempered Zealot regular, Tiffany Arnold, who shows up in an all too brief but highly hilarious cameo as Deb – “laundry girl”, and so much more, to the pledges and frat brothers of DIE. 

I’ll cut right to the chase for once, folks – this is a damn fine example of how indie horror should be done. If ANIMAL HOUSE had been cross-pollinated with REVENGE OF THE NERDS and done as a horror movie, I’m pretty sure it would be similar to FRAT HOUSE MASSACRE. It combines all the finest elements of the supernatural/grindhouse-style revenge flicks of the late-70s with the stalk ‘n slash at any nameless college movies of the early 80s. Sadly for the rabid horror fiend out there right now – FHM (the movie, not the airbrushed-celebrity bikini mag) is still making the festival rounds right now (and racking up awards too, I might add) and to my knowledge is not available to the public just yet, so you may be slobbering at an empty bowl for a few more months. But trust me on this – we’ll let you know the second we get any info on a secured release date for this baby, and it’s one you’ll want to display proudly on your blood-stained DVD shelf!!

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