Hard to Die (1990) Review by RevTerry

Jim Wynorski is one of the unsung kings of trash, or at the very least a prince. A student of Roger Corman's school of cheap blood and boobs, Wynorski has been making bargain bin classics, mockbusters and schlocky sequels for over thirty years. Though he may not be a household name in most circles, everyone has no doubt seen the cover of one of his over 100 films in a 4 pack of movies at Wal-Mart, on netflix or a title listed on their digital cable TV guide during a late night. He makes a lot of shit and it is shit, but fun shit and I fucking love even some of his worst. But in my opinion the apex of his art is the sorority-less "Massacre" film Hard to Die (aka Tower of Terror aka Sorority House Massacre 3:Hard to Die). He has better films (see Chopping Mall, Not of This Earth) and more standard-fare genre films (see Deathstalker II) but still something just feels so right about this obviously rushed Frankenstein's monster of a movie, stitched together of sleaze and recycled parts.
After finishing Sorority House Massacre 2: Nighty Nightmare (1990) for Julie Corman using the pseudonym Arch Stanton, Wynorski was tasked with "remaking" the same film (cast and all) using the sets pieces from the recently wrapped Corporate Affairs (1990) by her husband Roger . Corman brought Mark Mcgee and J.B. Rogers to work a rushed script and the team pumped out the film for the VHS market within the same year as the films cannibalized in its inception. The film was written and shot in about 15 days according to MacGee and Wynorski. It retained most of the cast, plot and wardrobe as Sorority House Massacre 2 and is considered the unofficial third in the series, even going under the title Sorority House Massacre 3 (among other names). Plot elements had to be reworked for the sky-rise setting and the writer struggled to meet Cormans requirements (boobs mostly). McGee remarked "[The sequence] ...is as ridiculous and infantile as anything you can imagine. But half-naked women is just about all that a film like this has to offer" The film lived two lives getting released once again, this time in theaters, under the name Tower Of Terror. Look for cameos from Kelli Maroney and .  ,, and  make up the gang of scream queens, some playing what can only be lost relatives of their supposedly dead characters from SHM2 .
The film follows the already loose plot of SHM2, while shoehorning it into the setting of a high-rise. Five very early 90's bombshells are (locked?) in a building over night for a lingerie innovatory, for which they have been hired as temps.  Orville Ketchem from SHM 2 is somehow alive, now the janitor, and for some reason recollects the events of  Sorority House Massacre (1986), the first one, even though he isn't in that one. I guess maybe he could have been lurking in the background in 1986 during the events of the first film, cleaning up a mess or something. Who gives a fuck? Orville is the shit and I'm glad he's back. Anyway before any real work can get done of course everyone must take a shower, ...everyone. The movie may be more than 1/3 shower scenes, complete with very un-sexy cartoon squeaky sound effects. It's great. Then, before trying on lingerie, they release the spirit of a once imprisoned serial killer that causes bloody, mostly off screen, mayhem. The girls fight for their lives with the help of Orville, who acts as human meat shield, suffering through perils that would kill any less a pure man.
 The movie is nothing but a cheese sandwich, in-between more cheese and with a delicious E-Z-Cheeze spread. When you know exactly what you're getting these kind of films can be a lot fun and if you have seen SHM2 and can picture an office building, then you know what you're are getting in to. Even as a make-it-fit clone of SHM2, the movie is the perfect amount of trashy, brainless crap for a good watch or background noise. It is high on kills and has some gore but moves most of the action off screen, likely due to budget, and tries to make up for it in nudity. The dialog is silly as shit "...don't worry, I'm no hero." and the actresses (although legends in their own right) haven't taken any classes in the weeks since SHM2. Sound quality and lighting carries over from SHM2 in terms of quality along with Wynorski's "eye". I'm never bored, although with the lack of story and strange jumps from scenes I have never quite understand why this is all happening despite watching several times. Somehow, altogether combined, the corny mess works on every note it haphazardly hits.
Wynorski, like David DeCoteau and , may never receive the accolades deserved for his many rainy day classics and I probably would have even less social contact if everyone knew how many times I had actually watched this fucking shitty movie, because the world sucks that way. This heartless globe doesn't deserve the majestic, squeaky rubdown that is Hard to Die. Now sign my petition to have Wynorski make a SHM4 where Orville Ketchum gets his much deserved happy ending. Maybe a wife, some kids or at least a job where naked people are not getting killed all over the place.
NC-17 | 1h 17min | 1990/1993
Director: Jim Wynorski (as Arch Stanton)
Writers: Mark Thomas McGee (as Mark McGee), J.B. Rogers (as James B. Rogers)

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