DIE DIE DELTA PI
Firstly, I just want to say thanks to Co-Directors, Sean Donohue and Christopher Leto, for allowing me access to an online screener of their 80’s inspired, slasher flick “Die Die Delta Pi”. It was written by Arturo Portillo, and made for an estimated $7,000. This is do it yourself style film making folks. Delta Pi is the name of a sorority that has been around since the 1980’s. In 1986, a serial killer was beginning to stalk the ladies of the house, simultaneously, a group of sisters from the sorority pull a prank on outcast, Marissa Chambers, that ends in tragedy. Skip ahead to present day, and the sorority is thriving once again. Now a hooded killer, who may or may not be related to young Marissa Chambers, threatens to wreak havoc on the new class. The film stars Andrea Alfonso, Kristin Avery, Kyle Ayala, Keisha Burchard, Lauren Mitchell and Lexi Balestrieri.
Die Die Delta Pi, isn’t my first venture into DIY, micro-budget film making. That’s the part I enjoy most about the Horror/Slasher genre, these are the types of films you can make, and make well, even if you don’t have much money. Of course you still need some knowledge of the technical aspects for sure, but it’s one of those things people experiment with for the love of it. Chris LaMartina’s “President’s Day” and Swedish born Sonny Laguna’s (Blood Runs Cold), are two wonderful examples of great micro-budget film making. How does Die Die Delta Pi match up against some of my favorites?? Read ahead and see.
Let’s talk about the cheesy but awesome title and the poster artwork (seen above). The opening act of the film takes place in the 80’s which I dug. Along with the fact that it’s got a real 80’s straight to VHS, style poster that you would have seen for any slasher made in that era. The acting in these types of films is nearly always campy and over the top. When you have friends and friends of friends, attempting to bring these characters to life, it can be very hit or miss, and your chance of success is slim. Andrea plays the role of older, Donna Parker in the current day. She was a student in 1986, and present on the night of the tragedy. Her daughter, Diana (played by Kristin Avery), is the new college girl looking to join the same sorority that her mother was part of. I found these two actresses were the most convincing in their roles, and didn’t just say their lines like they were lines (like a lot of the rest of the cast). The eye candy comes in the form of Josie and Marie, who both looked stunning, played respectively by Lauren Mitchell and Keisha Burchard. There are a few topless scenes, including a very brief one of Keisha, and even one full frontal shot in the opening of the film. I like Slashers with scenes of girls getting naked, or even spanking each other as they do in this one, as much as the next guy (haha), but it did seem kind of like pointless filler. There are a bunch of other lovely ladies that include sexy blonde twins and a cute black girl. The sorority setup wasn’t the most believable of plot points, it basically consisted of a handful of girls sitting around a bonfire, going through the motions of some sort of sister tradition. I get that its low-budget, but the entire setup in the climax of the film could have been far more interestingly written. Considering it’s the deal-breaker of the whole screenplay, it comes up a little short.
The music choices were diverse and cool, with a lot of pop and rock tunage, which I enjoyed. I found a lot of the camera work to be pretty average, but I thought they did a great job of shooting those bonfire scenes. Most low-budget films have poorly constructed campfire scenes, that from a technical point of view look mediocre, so this one was a nice change of pace. The strongest aspect of Die Die Delta Pi, has to be the practical blood and gore effects from Marcus Koch, who’s worked on films like (Girls Gone Dead and Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and many more). Other than Tom Savini, I think Koch is the next best in prosthetics and gore effects. It’s really his show from the beginning, but I don’t want to spoil any of the kills, so I will just say there’s a lot of cool 80’s style deaths. Again though I’m left wanting, but hey maybe that’s just me. I’m a firm believer of going overboard with gore, and I know one day someone’s going to make a film with enough gore to satisfy me (haha). Compared to some of his other effects work, he seems to only do just enough here. He keeps things simpler, whereas normally with a bigger budget he would be able to showcase his talent with elaborate gags.
Unfortunately I was almost immediately taken out of the film, because of the conflicting camera work. During certain parts, like shooting the bonfire, the camera remains still and the shots are well cut together. On the other side of the coin we get backgrounds that are out of focus, and even trying to find themselves in the middle of the shot. Speaking of shots, the shot choices were very hap hazard, and some of the handheld stuff gets quite shaky. Making matters worse, it feels like the entire film is lagging just that half a pace, it’s almost stagnant by a second or two, it’s very strange. I’m not sure if it was the Vimeo link I was sent, if so I apologize, but I’m not sure what happened there. The audio is the other part that’s terribly inconsistent, and it’s the type of thing that’s hard to ignore. I can forgive some of it because of the low-budget, but those films I mentioned earlier focused a lot of attention to these finer points, and it’s what makes them work. A lot of nearby traffic from main roads can be heard over the actors dialogue. As well as trading back and forth between shots, where the wind is rapid one minute and still the next. I don’t think a lot of time was spent in the editing room, and frankly it shows in the final product.
Moreover, the continuity issues are a plenty. Most noticeably with our heavy breathing killer, who spends a lot of time hiding in the bushes. When the shot is focused front on to the girls talking around the campfire, the breathing should be coming from the side where the cover is, but it doesn’t it comes from front on. Here and there, it’s difficult to follow who is who from the 80’s intro segment, and cutting to present day. The cutting inside the sorority house in those opening scenes was way to fast as well. It seems very convenient that everyone that was somehow involved in 1986, remained living in this same town their whole lives, and end up putting two and two together by the end of the film. The dialogue in the beginning doesn’t sound or feel like the 80’s, everything ends up feeling totally scripted. It’s in part the cast, but mostly down to the writing. You can’t expect your cast to pull of anything with conviction with dialogue like this.
A few of the scenes with the girls were pretty entertaining, and the stuff by the campfire was solid. Bringing me to my next point, what is with the guys in this film?? Did they even need to be there??. There are three main male characters, all of whom have no bearing on anything that happens in the film. They were only referenced once or twice and could have only been there, simply to add to the body-count. Normally I’m not bothered by that, but in this case there were enough female victims to keep the body-count high without them. The only thing I will remember from their inclusion, was how horrible the scene of them calling emergency services was. It was so forced, and so unrealistic that they would have been better off playing it over the top comedic, either way it was not good. There’s just a lot of lack of attention to detail with this one. What about the extras walking the corridors of the college?, like normal colleges have, Wait there are none. People’s underplayed reactions to horrific deaths, the doctors at the poor excuse for a psychiatric facility, and the list goes on.
Die Die Delta Pi, with its awesome 80’s style poster and title, not to mention it’s fun, cheesy plot, great eye candy and Marcus Koch doing effects, this should have impressed. In the end we get barely enough to hold our attention. There isn’t a great deal of experience attached to this, and it is super low-budget so keep that in mind, but I’ve seen it done better. Concentration needs to be spent on getting the technical aspects right and the writing more cohesive and realistic. The raw idea here is good and the effects are pretty decent, the good news is these guys are new to it all, so there’s room for improvement. I commend these guys on giving it a crack, and if they made the flick they set out to there’s not much more you can do. Cheers
My rating for “Die Die Delta Pi” is 4/10