So I’ve been on a bit of a Slumber Party Massacre kick as I work my way thr ough this fantastic series, and I figured I’d share the love with some reviews. The first one is yet another horror flick released in the fantastic year of 1982. I’ve carried on about how much I love that year before, so I won’t. However, I will say that this is one of the staples of the year.
THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982) Review
Trish (Michelle Michaels) is a high school girl who’s decided to throw a good old-fashioned slumber party for her basketball team. Unfortunately for them, this has coincided with a homicidal, portable-drill wielding mental patient escaping. Well, the two events eventually cross paths, and it’s up to the girls to bring him down before the blood flows even more.
Watching The Slumber Party Massacre again, I’m really beginning to realize that this film really has some issues. First, some background. This was initially written as a horror satire by feminist lesbian author Rita Mae Brown. Legendary producer Roger Corman stripped the script of most of its comedic elements, and Amy Holden Jones directed it. So here we have a 1982 slasher movie directed by a woman, written by a woman, and produced by Roger Corman. If you don’t think the result will be interesting just based on that, you obviously haven’t seen enough slasher movies (which is also sad). That sounds awesome! Even if the two writing and directing do a dismal job, at least Corman will be there to spice things up and make it bearable. It also features a cast of (for the most part) unknown actors and actresses, with the exceptions being Debra DeLiso and Joseph Alan Jonson (who both appeared in one of my guilty pleasures, Iced). Enough of that; now let’s see why this movie was followed by two sequels and a series of spin-offs.
As much as Corman tried to prevent it, some moments of comedy do peek through. Not a lot, but a few lines like when one girl says, “He’s so cold” about a deceased pizza man and one girl responds with “Is the pizza?” and proceeds to gorge herself. Most of the movie is pretty straightforward, but little moments like these just make it that more lovable. But this is not a comedy. In all honesty, The Slumber Party Massacre has some of the most nail-biting sequences in any slasher I’ve seen. I’ve seen it multiple times, and the chase in the locker room has me holding my breath every time. A finale that does get quite intense is also a heavy bonus. The obligatory gore is here in spades, even if all the murders are more or less the same thing (the only real question is “where is he going to put the drill this time?”), aside from a painful-looking stabbing. Corman made damn sure the boob quotient was filled with a long shower scene being the tip of the iceberg, so hats off to him. On a side note, one of the fun things about The Slumber Party Massacre is seeing standard slasher conventions critics were deeming “sexist” flipped on their ear. For example, while many opposed to the slasher boom were complaining about how violently women died, the girls’ deaths are mostly quick, while the boys are the ones that really get dispatched gruesomely. The sexual overtones are heavy too (they make the whole “the drill is his penis” symbol quite clear).
Unfortunately, SPM really just couldn’t keep it together in the scenes between the locker room chase and when the girls realize they’re in danger at the party. It’s filled with almost every false scare in the book (Oh God that meat cleaver’s getting closer…oh good, it’s just the friendly neighbor out hunting for snails!), and not always with successful results. The writing is pretty bland and the acting isn’t what I’d consider “enlightening” for this chunk of the film. It goes on like this (despite a pretty good murder) for a while, until they open the door and discover the pizza guy’s eyes have been drilled out (but they still got the pizza, thank the lord). Then there’s the characters of Valerie, the chick who lives across the street but is on the outs with these girls because she’s a better b-ball player, and her little sister Courtney. They basically bicker about boys and Courtney wants to be beautiful like Val. Then Courtney scares Val twice. In the same way. Don’t reach for those cyanide capsules! It does get better.
Yeah, I really dig The Slumber Party Massacre. The title will have you thinking it’s your run-of-the-mill slice ‘n’ dice extravaganza, and it is. However, it does successfully prey on those expectations by occasionally throwing in a delightful curveball with the other great shenanigans. A serviceable amount of bloodshed, lots of nudity, some fun writing, great suspense, and one creepy,creepy killer (I forgot to mention this mask-less maniac, but he is creepy). The terrifying organ-synthesizer score is a huge help too. Shout! Factory released a Slumber Party Massacre collection a short while ago, and the presentation for the first film is great. The picture is very nice, the audio commentary is informative, and the trailer is really fun in that early-eighties trailer kind of way. There’s a really good documentary on all three movies as well. I always consider dropping the score down one grade, but the really good stuff here shines through the bad.
The Slumber Party Massacre is a rad, vintage ’82 girls-get-naked-girls-get-dead flick with heart. If stereotypical slashers is your thing, or even if you want it to be your thing, this is pretty much mandatory.