... aka: Macabre Party
Yet another middling slasher set on a college campus, this starts out quite fun but ultimately fails to deliver the goods when it really counts. A bitter woman attending her mother's funeral gets pulled into a casket by her dearly departed and is accidentally incinerated, which turns out to be a movie playing at a drive-in where a girl goes to a snack bar, encounters dancing zombies and then a rock band, which turns out to be a music video being watched by one of our heroines. This bizarre film-within-a-film-within- a-film opening is probably the most appropriate way to start out a film originally called The April Fool and set among a group of joke- playing college students in the midst of Hell Week. Shy Jennifer (Joanna Johnson, who later became a soap opera actress), vivacious Phoebe (Elaine Wilkes) and geeky Vivia (Sherry Willis-Burch) are the three newest pledges of the prestigious sorority Sigma Alpha Phi ("the wet dream of this college!") where they must endure such rush week indignities as paddling, having raw eggs cracked into their mouths, being fed goat eyeballs (!) and being forced to say "I myself prefer a big, fat cucumber" in the middle of class.
Thankfully, all that's about to come to an end as the girls approach the end of their hazing period, only they're about to trade the feelings of embarrassment and humiliation for the feelings of death and bodily possession instead. Bitchy sorority head Veronica (Alicia Fleer) unwisely decides to hold the sorority's annual April Fool's masquerade ball - held in conjunction with a male house known as the Beta Tau - in a long-abandoned frat house haunted by the vengeful spirit of a guy named Alan who was accidentally killed there twenty years earlier. As the party is underway, someone decked out in a diver's costume kills everyone off in a variety of ways that include a trident, knife, hammer, guillotine, drowning and that old standby, a harpoon shot up an ass. By the end, the guilty party (whose identity is poorly telegraphed in advance) is sporting white contacts, an Exorcist tongue and a husky voice and literally climbing the walls.
This actually begins surprisingly well. The production values and photography are both good, there are some fun songs, the performances are competent from most of the cast, the actors and actresses are likable and the dialogue isn't half bad either (the script was from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter writer Barney Cohen). We get a good look at college life to start things out, but the movie wastes way too much time on that and the various pranks going on on campus, including bees unleashed upon a bunch of topless girls in a hot tub. For the first hour plus the film is almost completely bereft of horror so by the time it does reach the finale it has no other choice but to rush through it in a haphazard fashion devoid of scares, suspense or even gory payoff.
Hampering the film even further is that all of the kills take place off- screen. You simply get to see an already-killed victim or the killer approaching behind someone with a weapon before it abruptly cuts to something else. Apparently the MPAA forced them to eliminate every bit of blood and there doesn't appear to have been a lot to begin with. The only real gore moment they allowed to pass through was a decapitation and that's only because it turns out to be a prank!
Martin Hewitt receives top billing for his supporting role because he was in the hit Endless Love (1981) a few years earlier. (Terrible movie but it got him some attention at the time). Cult legend Paul Bartel has a somewhat fun bit as an uptight professor and other small parts are played by Ralph Seymour (Just Before Dawn; Ghoulies), Terri Hawkes (Prom Night II and the English voice of Sailor Moon) and Woody Brown (Alligator II). By the way, the current "trivia" on IMDb about this movie starting production in 1978 and being mostly filmed then is complete bullshit. This was actually filmed in 1984.