The Slumber Party Massacre
Close your eyes for a second... and sleep forever.
Year of Release: 1982
Also Known As: The Slumber Party Murders
Running Time: 77 minutes (1:17)
Director: Amy Holden Jones
Michelle Michaels ... Trish
Robin Stille ... Valerie
Michael Villella ... Russ Thorn
Debra De Liso ... Kim
Andree Honore ... Jackie
Gina Smika Hunter ... Diane
Jennifer Meyers ... Courtney
Joseph Alan Johnson ... Neil
David Millbern ... Jeff
Jim Boyce ... John Minor
Pamela Roylance ... Coach Jana
Brinke Stevens ... Linda
Rigg Kennedy ... David Contant
When Trish decides to invite her high school girls' basketball teammates over for a slumber party, she makes three big mistakes.
Number 1: She snubs the pretty new girl next door.
Number 2: She forgets about teenage pranksters Jeff and Neil.
Number 3: Her biggest mistake. She doesn't know about an escaped mental patient who will soon be dropping in on the party... with his portable drill!
The Slumber Party Massacre, remindin' us that the double standard is alive an well when it comes to porno. Apparently sisters can share it an it's "hot," but if brothers do that everyone just immediately assumes they're from the Ozarks.
An speakin' of things gettin' nekkid, the trees're all performin' their annual strip teases, an it's officially the first day of Fall... or "Autumn," for all you yuppies out there who'd prefer to use words like "foliage" instead of "leaves," an "parkin' ticket" instead of "paternity suit." Either way, around here, thoughts turn to all-weather tires, pipe winterization, an murderin' adorable, cuddly animals for survival purposes. Course, mosta your furry animal huntin' seasons don't start til next month, less'n you're one of those show-offs who only hunt with a bow cause it adds "a more level playing field." Right. You guys just keep tellin' yourselves that's "level." I got nothin' at all against huntin', cause that's pretty much our bread an butter 'round these parts, but unless the deer suddenly sprouts thumbs an acquires a concealed carry permit, it still don't seem all that fair to me. But anyway, this's the time of year where ya can't walk into Hammer Time Hardware an swing a dead cat without hittin' somebody excited about huntin' season, or avoid gettin' your face caved in for hittin' people with dead cats. Heck, most bird seasons ain't even open yet, but some people just can't wait... like, Apollo for instance, he couldn't wait either, an that's why he's down at Chickawalka Peterinary Care (the name's a long story, but basically the veterinarian who runs the place got kicked in the head while he was tendin' to an ailin' mule an changed the name from Chickawalka Veterinary Care after decidin' not to work on livestock anymore) right now gettin' half his right ear an his tail stitched back on. See, Billy Hilliard an I were drivin' back from Lake Gunkamucka this mornin' with a cooler fulla catfish, an right as we were passin' that big cattail patch just before Haystack Bend this pheasant went flyin' up outta the ditch an, well... Apollo made like R. Kelly an believed he could fly an jumped clean outta the back of Billy's GMC Sierra, an for a good three seconds it seemed like he really *could* fly, until gravity finally took hold an he got intimate with the pavement. Missed the bird by at least eight feet an ended up gettin' knocked goofy for a good 15 minutes before he finally quit swayin' back an forth like the audience at a Kenny G concert. Now I gotta go down to Lunk's Trunks of Fantastic Junk an hock my mower to pay the bill an then try to find the cash to get it back before the Lawn Nazis drive by an realize the grass in my front lawn's high enough for Billy Barty to get lost in an write me another citation for violatin' the "eye-sore" ordinance. Damn dog.
Butcha know somethin'? I'm not gonna let that get me down. Not when we got the first slumber party themed Horror flick ever directed by a broad on tap. I never really thought about it before now, but doesn't it make more sense to witness this classic cinematic theme as told by somebody who mighta actually ATTENDED a slumber party at some point in 'er life? I mean, she's prolly got all kinda top secret feminine insight into what *really* goes on, an how two dozen totally nekkid women *really* behave in the high school showers that all the male directors don't know nothin' about. So with that in mind, I'm just gonna come right out an say it; the philosophical insights of this particular '80s slasher could well turn out to be the biggest step toward cinematic gender equality of 1982, an perhaps THE biggest of all time, right up until 1983 when Linda Shayne co-wrote the great Porky's clone, Screwballs, with Jim Wynorski. I don't think anything more need be said about the cultural significance of this flick, so without further ado, here're just three of a plethora of insights it offers into the thought process of the modern career gal. First, pizza delivery boys take that "30 minutes or it's free" oath *very* seriously, an will perform their sworn duty even after havin' been screwed through the eyeballs with a power drill. "Neither snow, nor rain, nor drillin' of the eye-sockets shall stay these greasy-faced teens from the swift completion of their appointed thick crust and extra cheese deliveries," I think it goes. Second, suburbanites like to *think* they're more sophisticated an classier'n us rural folks, but the moment nightfall strikes they're outside with a flashlight choppin' snails in half with a meat cleaver as part of some kinda bizarre city slicker take on frog giggin'. An third, some folks can't handle a strong-stomached, independent woman. So ladies, if you're plannin' on datin' a caveman at some point, NEVER let 'em catch you eatin' a pizza that got squished by the corpse of a mutilated delivery boy. That kinda thing intimidates the crap out of us an can cause permanent limpness of the groinal region.
I gotta tell ya though, the best thing about this flick is how it totally exonerates Ronnie Reagan of any blame for the alleged "gutting" of our mental health care system. Now, some people they say Ron's congress pulled all the fundin' out from under these booby hatches, an pretty much forced these people out onto the streets where they inconvenience us with their obnoxious attempts at survival to this very day, but what most folks don't seem to realize is they've got the cause an effect backwards. See, I've seen just about every one of these "banana-rama-ding-dong escapes the nut hut" flicks, an I can assure everybody out there readin' that, based upon my personal research, the asylums didn't get shuttered cause their budgets got slashed, on the contrary: it's cause every three or four days one of their resident ramblers'd escape, butcher half a dozen partially nekkid co-eds, an eventually be brought down by the lone survivin' female who by that time'd pretty well gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs 'erself after seein' all 'er friends get turned into Max Factor meatloaf. Thus, the Ensano Man was dismembered in a conveniently timed episode of torso-hackin' temporary sanity, an required no further psychiatric observation. Seriously, in the 1980s you could witness this occurrence every single week at the drive-in, so really, it'd only make sense that the asylums began closin' their doors due to a lack of patients. There's plenty of stuff to blame Ronnie for, like that miserable MPAA regime of his crackin' down on the gore in Horror flicks, but let's not go slingin' mud on 3-piece suits that don't deserve it, alright? You wanna blame somebody for all the quack shack shutterin' you take that to hospital security, cause those guys were droppin' more balls than a Jane Fonda workout video.
The movie begins in picturesque Anytown, U.S.A. where a paperboy's chuckin' newspapers detailin' the escape of mass murderer an all-around ill-tempered madman Russ Thorn from a local mental institution, after which we cut to some girl (Trish) wakin' up to the instantly enraging blare of 'er clock radio an switchin' the dial over to the Barry Manilow flaccid rock station to keep 'er brain from burstin' out of 'er skull like a Xenomorph in an attempt to disconnect itself from 'er eardrums. Today just happens to be the day Trish becomes a ma'am, an everybody knows that when you become a ma'am you put away childish things, so Trish starts the mornin' off by roundin' up all 'er beloved childhood mementos an stuffin' 'em in the trash can so 'er friends won't make fun of 'er while they're talkin' about how cheap it makes 'em feel to get squirted in the eye when they're spit shinin' their boyfriends' gear shifter knobs at the slumber party she's got planned. Meanwhile, at school, this guy who looks like Martouf from Stargate SG-1 (Jeff) an his friend (Neil) are tryin' to get a lady electrician to hook 'em up with 'er outlet, only she just laughs at 'em cause they've got neither the cable nor the voltage necessary to power 'er substation. But once they give up an go back to their regularly scheduled disappointments, she gets jerked into 'er van by what appears to be a jealous apprentice who pulls out a power drill big enough to be Amy Winehouse's corkscrew an journeys to the center of 'er girth. Elsewhere, Trish an 'er friends (Kim, Jackie, Diane, an Linda) are latherin' up their double dribblers after basketball practice an havin' deep philosophical discussions about how far they'd go for a ride in a Camaro, when Trish announces she'd like to invite the new girl (Valerie) to their slumber party. Diane positively hates this idea cause she's afraid 'er chunkheaded boyfriend (John) might find out about Val's superior ball handlin' skills an challenge 'er to a game of one-on-one, an unfortunately Val hears the conversation an hasta tearfully decline when Trish invites 'er. Then everybody heads home, only Linda forgets 'er Calculus homework in 'er gym locker an ends up gettin' locked inside the school tryin' to retrieve it an next thing you know ole DeWalt Whitman sneaks up on 'er an drills into 'er gut bucket like an Alaskan wildlife refuge. Meanwhile, Trish is settin' up for the party an gettin' spooked by a relentless chain of phony jump scares, includin' one from the mildly creepy Mr. Contant who agrees to keep quiet about the girls' Maui Wowie an Coronas in the hope that they'll get schnozzled enough to spank each other with wooden spoons in clear view of the livin' room window. Things aren't nearly as excitin' next door at Val's place, cause she's stuck babysittin' 'er little sister (Courtney) who's sportin' a femullet an looks like she's gonna grow up to marry the female P.E. teacher an open a sporting goods store.
Then Jeff an Neil show up at Trish's house an find the girls changin' in front of the window an frantically try to clear the bong resin outta their brains so they'll have the memory space necessary to retain the images for later use, only about that time Diane goes outside to grab some wood for the fire an runs into Contant who's huntin' down escargot with a meat cleaver to sell to the Le Stuqup French restaurant on the waterfront, an once she heads back inside Contant becomes our next contestant on The Slice is Right. Course, Jeff an Neil didn't come over *just* to ogle breasts, that'd be juvenile an pathetic. They also came to kill the power an scare the crap out of the girls so bad that you can take a pulse reading from their left nipples, only that part goes south real quick when Trish catches a glimpse of Jeff's jeans an Maglites 'im hard enough to ensure the house ain't the only thing experiencin' a blackout. So, upon havin' restored power to both the house an her gender, Trish takes everybody back inside, only about that time Diane's boyfriend shows up an the two of 'em diddle around in the car like a truck driver an a hitchhiker with stretch marks on 'er lips until John convinces 'er to come back to his place an work on 'er trouser snake charmin' routine. Unfortunately by the time she returns from gettin' the alpha female's permission to go pole vaultin', some wiseass's gone an chopped John's head off an placed it gently back on toppa his Fridgidaire-esque frame, causin' a pretty embarrassin' situation when she gets back in the car an accidentally sends it rollin' into the floorboard like a scoop of Tutti Frutti after a trailer park speed bump. Diane's pretty much corkscrew pasta, but then you prolly already knew that. Then the pizza delivery guy rings the bell, cept when they open the door the kid's got reverse Billy Idol syndrome (that's a face without eyes for you non-scientific types) as a direct result of gettin' bored through the gourd, an he ends up fallin' into the house an drippin' creamed cornea all over the shag carpet. Ain't all bad though, after all, they did beat the check. At this rate Jeff an Neil're never gonna be taken as serious contenders for any of these girls' reproductive organs, so they decide to split up an make a run for the neighbors' houses on the basis that the killer can't catch 'em both, an that the one who returns with help is likely to be showered with top shelf nookie for the rest of his days. Jeff heads out via garage towards Contant's place an gets drilled harder'n an Alabama high school football squad, while Neil manages to make it to Val's place an pound on the door like a drunk who can't find the right key for the lock.
Only Val can't hear 'im cause she's watchin' Hollywood Boulevard on TV, an after about 30 seconds Vince Drill shows up to challenge the notion that he can't catch 'em both an stakes Neil to the lawn with a steak knife in a rare cinematic example of death by homophone. Course, now the killer's havin' an Ed Murray moment of discovery upon learnin' how hard it is to run around the neighborhood drillin' every guy you can get ahold of without gettin' caught, cause by the time he's dispatched Neil, Jeff's somehow managed to crawl back to Trish's place an paw at the door like a dog in the rain, only they're too scared to let 'im in an he's too damn stupid to tell 'em it's him, an he ends up gettin' finished off by Millard Drillmore. This next part's kinda tricky, so I'ma hafta explain it without trippin' all over myself tryin' to be funny: Courtney sneaks out to join Trish's party, only Val notices she's missin' an heads over to Trish's place to look for her, an is herself in turn noticed by Courtney who's about to knock on the door but then doesn't so she can avoid gettin' caught by Val. Val then knocks on the door herself, but nobody'll answer because for all they know Val's in on it, that is until Val gives up an walks away, at which point Jackie finally does open up an gets tracheotomized by the door to door entrailsman. Sorry, I tried. Anyway, Val finds Courtney around back, cept by this point she'd kinda like to know why all the lights're out an why there're bloody handprints all over an just what in the hell's so wrong with her that keeps people from includin' 'er in their massacres, an so they start nosin' around while Phyllis Driller scales the side of the buildin' like Spiderman an crawls in through Trish's bedroom window, an by the time Kim an Trish're able to get the dresser out from in front of the door to flee it's too late an Kim ends up gettin' La Femme Makita'd. Then Val an Courtney start pokin' around the house until they find a rick of Kimdling piled up in the fridge an scatter like a bag of funeral ashes bein' sucked through an exhaust fan. That's about when the killer decides to get tricksy an cover 'imself up with a blanket in the livin' room an lie in wait for somebody to try stickin' his hand in warm water, an sure enough, before too long the basketball coach comes by to give all the girls deep tissue mammary massages an next thing you know the guy sits up like Michael Myers an the two of 'em're havin' a drill vs. fire poker duel until Courtney (who's been hidin' under the futon) sticks 'er foot out an sweeps the leg like Martin Kove, droppin' Slob Vila like 3rd period Algebra from a varsity quarterback's class schedule, an givin' the coach cart-blanche to wallop the holy hell out of 'im. Don't worry though, cause we got Roger Corman executive producin' on this thing, an he'd never let one of his lunatics die at the hands of anything as puny as a fire poker. Nope, not a chance; this guy's gettin' up at least a couple more times, so if you don't already know who's still gonna be standin' when the credits roll, you'd best grab a copy.
Alrighty, there ya have it, the 1982 semi-classic, Slumber Party Massacre. This one kinda operates in its own little clique of "good but not great" horror flicks from the '80s that some people love, everyone likes, and really nobody hates, or at least nobody I know hates it. Coupla other examples that I'd lump in with this group would be flicks like Chopping Mall and Pieces; movies that're a lotta fun but didn't really show up on cable that much for whatever reason, and probably owe their respective followings to their excellent VHS artwork. This is the kinda movie you show to somebody who's "not sure" if they're into Horror or not, cause while it may not be as good as A Nightmare on Elm Street, it's still a hell of a lot better than say, Carnosaur. It's also kinda interesting to see how a woman handles the slasher subgenre, which tends to be notoriously regarded as "demeaning to women." Turns out that she pretty much follows the same formula, except she adds things like Playgirl magazine, the ability to survive rippin' your blouse off, and casting women to play all the roles generally assigned to men, like electricians and carpenters. The movie actually owes its existence to the director, Amy Holden Jones, shootin' a short based off of a prologue that was in the film's original script, which she showed to Joe Dante while editing Hollywood Boulevard for him, and which Dante then gave to Roger Corman. Corman was so impressed by what she was able to do with only $1000 at her disposal that he offered her a directing gig to turn the short into a feature film, which she elected to do despite having also been offered editing duty on Spielberg's sentimental classic, E.T. *I* don't fault her judgement, but I've gotta believe that any normal person would for turning down the opportunity to work on a Spielberg film. After Slumber Party Massacre she never edited another movie and only directed three more, as she seems to have shifted more towards writing. I'd tell ya what she's been writing, but it's almost as depressin' as when an actress gets desperate and hasta turn to Soap Operas to get work, so let's not dwell on it. Interestingly, both of this flick's sequels would also be helmed by (different) women, as would another spiritual successor, Sorority House Massacre, but I always find it kinda amusing to hear about how these types of movies are "degrading" and even "cruel" to women, because not only is it *always* a woman who eventually gets tough and mutilates the killer beyond all recognition, but the men are almost universally dumber'n a bag of hammers, and quickly become easy fodder for the psycho. It's especially amusing when someone cites *this* particular flick as proof of that theory, when both the director and writer were women. Sorry, didn't mean to get all political on ya there, but the fact is that slasher flicks really should be viewed as pro-female, because the woman always succeeds where the men fail, and frankly the movies are always *better* for having a female hero. Just look at A Nightmare on Elm Street II and TRY arguin' that point with a straight face. I'll wait.
In the meantime though, it's about time we stopped lettin' this chick skate on 'er trailblazin' gender and find out how much vision this flick has once you've put a power drill through both eye-sockets. The plot is about as simplistic as it gets, and one that's been utilized for decades in the Horror genre; mental patient escapes the psych ward to terrorize a particularly unlucky residence, resulting in the untimely demise of just about everyone currently occupyin' said residence. There're certainly a few situations that don't make sense, like the pizza delivery guy's corpse remaining upright until a few seconds after the girls open the door, but it's got its positives as well, including a cast of characters (at least the ones of the female persuasion) who aren't complete imbeciles (a good example would be Brinke Stevens' character attempting to wipe her blood off the floor before it can spread under the doorway and give away her position), and the occasional funny bit; like the scene where Robin Stille's character tries runnin' back into the house with the Skil saw but runs out of extension cord and gets yanked back into the wall like a yo-yo. Basically, if you don't expect anything original (or any plot twists), it's passable. The acting is neither great nor terrible. You've got a few good performances (Michelle Michaels, Gina Hunter, Brinke Stevens, and David Millbern), a couple that're kinda botched (Andree Honore and Jennifer Meyers), and everybody else generally performing adequately, but not impressively. As expected, Brinke's an excellent screamer, but I think Gina Hunter actually outshines her by that particular metric in this movie. Michael Villella's portrayal of the killer, while not great, is definitely decent, particularly considering it was his first film. It's also important to remember that the villain in these affairs is always the most important character, because if they aren't sufficiently menacing and/or loathsome, you can't possibly feel any kind of sympathy for the victims, and honestly, you do at least kinda give a damn about the characters in Slumber Party Massacre, which is one area in which it manages to outshine your average Friday the 13th entry.
Here's who matters and why (less Brinke Stevens, cause if there was a scream queen Mount Rushmore, she'd hafta be on it): Robin Stille (Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Vampire Knights, The Being), Debra De Liso (Iced, October Moon, Dr. Caligari 1989), Gina Smika Hunter (The Sword and the Sorcerer), Joseph Alan Johnson (Berzerker, Iced, The House of Lost Souls, Il fantasma di Sodoma), David Millbern (Gods and Monsters, Ice Spiders, Chupacabra Terror, Deep Freeze, 2001: A Space Travesty, Amanda & the Alien, Blood Theatre, Sorceress), Jim Boyce (Ed Wood), Rigg Kennedy (Swarm of the Snakehead). Also of note, Pamela Roylance, who plays the coach, had previously played Sarah Reed Carter on the god-fearinest, "how things oughta be" show in the history of the world: Little House on the Prairie.
The special effects are alright, if less than ambitious. There's an old saying that goes: "nothing ventured, nothing gained," and while that might be true, you could also make the argument that if nothing is ventured, it's also not lost. Sometimes ill-prepared effects personnel are called upon to create things that they're just not capable of, or that the budget won't allow for, and things go down the ole toilet in a hurry. That's not really the case here, because the two guys they hired (Larry Carr and Rick Lazzarini) would go on to do effects for a lot of other classic titles in the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series, as well as Aliens, Forbidden World, and Ghostbusters II (Carr was a prosthetics guy, while Lazzarini worked with animatronics), so I'm inclined to think there was either significant concern that the MPAA was gonna hack this thing up if they got too brutal, or that the moderate gore levels were an artistic choice. I'm gonna go with that first option because it makes me happier. Mostly you've just got the liberal use of blood that manages to be of a good consistency and color, but there're also a few flashes of gut bucket slashery that're too quick to see much detail, the drilling of David Millbern's torso (which is easily the worst effect in the movie due to a very obvious dummy that's visibly some distance from the actor), and the drilled out eyeballs of the pizza delivery guy (mostly okay, but they look a little silly when too much light hits them). So, again, "nothing ventured, nothing lost."
The shooting locations are alright, but not particularly interesting, or for that matter, integral to the story. The two primary settings are the side-by-side residences where 80% of the movie takes place, as well as the high school used for the movie's earliest scenes. They used a real high school for the scenes in the gym, locker room, and parking lot, all of which help set the proper feel and tone of the movie, and the two homes more than adequately convey that middle-class suburban neighborhood (just like yours!) that we're so accustomed to seeing in these types of flicks. So despite not being particularly intriguing locations, they're perfectly suitable and help to establish a great feeling of '80s nostalgia. The soundtrack on the other hand, *is* interesting, and was composed entirely on a Casio synthesizer. You've got a coupla tracks that start to border on 8-bit Nintendo music (they stylistically resemble tracks from Castlevania as well as the "dungeon" theme from the original Legend of Zelda), as well as the "main theme" that I'm referring to as "Innagadadavida as performed by The Phantom of the Opera." None of the tracks are as memorable as the kinda stuff John Carpenter did with the Halloween series, but it's still really catchy and surprisingly atmospheric, despite being a little cheesy. It's pretty impressive that it's as good as it is, given the limitations of that one instrument. Overall, Slumber Party Massacre is every bit as good as the lesser Friday the 13th entries, and I'd put it right on par with another flick which it closely resembles; The House on Sorority Row. It's got everything an '80s slasher flick needs, and clocks in at a trim 77 minutes, so definitely check it out if you haven't gotten to it yet.