In the spring of 1986, the year that Sean Donohue’s film Die Die Delta Pi opens, the filmmaker would have been just 5 years old, with dreams of making horror movies probably far from his mind. But, being so young at that point doesn’t mean that this movie, an homage to sorority slashers of the 80s, feels like it’s being told by someone who doesn’t know what the decade was all about when it comes to its gorefests – Donohue knows that it’s all about hot co-eds getting covered in plenty of blood!
Delta Pi isn’t out to break new ground in the world of horror or slashers, but that’s perfectly fine – it’s not supposed to be. Instead, we’re treated to a fun story with a wink-wink homage and perfect throwback feel to all the great sorority slashers that came before; movies like Sorority House Massacre (1986) or House On Sorority Row (1983), about ditzy college girls who are stalked and hacked. In the case of Delta Pi, we have girls getting naked, girls drinking, girls getting paddled (seriously), and yes, girls getting slaughtered. I enjoyed every minute of it.
The film opens in 1986 when, during rush week, the sisters of Delta Pi have a tradition of having a bonfire where they burn a giant replica dummy of their house-mother. This time, though, they also have another plan: to humiliate one of their own – a girl named Marissa (Olivia Blake, Hi-8, Rough Cut) who is only in the sorority because she’s a legacy and her mother was once a member, but her nerdy, too-smart ways don’t “fit in” with the rest of clique. As lame as the prank was that they planned (to spray Marissa with copious amounts of silly string), the entire thing goes awry, and Marissa, covered in string, falls into the fire. Don’t you know how flammable that stuff is, girls?!
Fast forward about 30 years, and we’re in present day, where a new crop of Delta Pi are re-opening the house for the first time since it was closed after the tragedy. But, new a clique of catty girls means a new string of violent deaths at the hands of The Burnt One…
Although the revenge story may not be anything new, it doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t a total blast, with death and gore FX (created by Marcus Koch of Oddtopsy FX) really being what this movie is all about. I knew going in that even if the movie was horrible in every other way, at least the gore and violence would look top-notch, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Koch’s great gore gags – including an awesomely hilarious decapitation, a woman being choked to death with barbed wire, and the aftermath of a shotgun blast (not to mention the burn makeup on multiple characters), all come work great on film, proving again that Oddtopsy is the go-to for independent horror filmmaking FX, but also showing how well director Donohue knows how to capture the aftermath of the violence for his movie, with the color and visual look of the film really popping, especially during the blood-red deaths we’re handed throughout the hour and eighteen minute runtime.
Delta Pi is a fun story, well written by Donahue with a screenplay by Arturo Portillo, and starring a cast of relative newcomers including Andrea Alfonso, Kristin Avery, and Kyle Ayala, who all deliver good performances – even if their part is only enough dialog to introduce them before we find them dead a few minutes later. With a badass modern-rock soundtrack by BASH!, Die Die Delta Pie is an extremely well made film done on a micro-budget that feels like a classic slasher, modernized. It doesn’t have that Hollywood feel by any means, but really, who wants that garbage in their horror anyway?