Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Movie Review: The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

This movie, and its sequels, was one of those 80s goodies that just wasn't at my disposal for the longest time, so I never cared all that much about getting around to seeing it. And Slumber Party Massacre, despite the ambitious title, is not something I'm going to call a "classic." I liked it a lot though, and it is without a doubt a great example of all those formulaic 80s slashers movies.

Eighteen-year-old Trish decides to invite some friends over for a slumber party one night when her parents are out of town. The pretty, new girl Valerie, who lives next door to Trish, is invited to the festivities but declines to take care of her younger sister. It's going to be a long night for all of them, though, because a crazed murderer armed with a power drill is in the neighborhood - and he wants to join the party.

One of the cool things about Slumber Party Massacre is that it was both written and directed by women (not the same woman, though). The uncool thing about this is that I couldn't detect a woman's influence hardly anywhere in this movie, with the exception of one scene. I mean, in the first few minutes there is a tit shot as Trish changes her clothes in her room, and then not too long after that, there is a bevy of teenage flesh on display when the girls take showers after playing basketball. Like, of course there's a shower scene. The director even lingers on a shot of one girl's flat ass for a really unnecessary amount of time. And there are more boobs to come later in the movie. Feminist? I don't think so.

Anyway, the storyline here isn't all that bad so there was at least some thought put into making the movie a bit more plausible than some of the other slashers at the time. I mean, the situations just never seemed as farfetched, even though there is a bit of humor sprinkled throughout. Like when one girl gets hungry during their ordeal and they all approach the dead pizza guy cautiously with their knives to get at the delicious pie - that was kinda funny. Valerie running up the stairs with the band saw still plugged in was another good bit. But the humor almost doesn't make sense in this movie. It's subtle enough that you'll get it if you're paying attention but for the most part the movie is rather serious and trying its hardest to be all scary and creepy. So I don't see the point in making it funny unless it's trying to make some point I don't get or to be a comment on something that I don't really care about.

The power drill-loving killer is a rather cliche escaped crazy guy who looks like a guy you'd run into at the Home Depot. I always knew to never trust a guy in a jean jacket. Anyway, I thought it would annoy me that they don't hide the killer's face through most of the movie - probably 'cause that's what I'm used to from these slashers, you know - but it becomes pretty clear that who this man is doesn't matter in the least. He's just a guy using a very obvious phallic symbol to attack women. So the only "feminist" moment I can see is when Valerie comes after him with a big 'ole machete and chops off a part of his drill. Yup, friends, she emasculated him. Hard to miss the subtleties there.

If there is one thing I can say about the other characters in Slumber Party Massacre, it is that they all seem to be suffering from a case of selective deafness. You know what that is, right? It's when the people in a horror all seem to have perfectly normal hearing in everyday situations but for some reason can't hear or ignore those sounds which are most important - like for instance screaming... or the sound of a power drill. This happens several times throughout the movie - first when the boys ignore the phone repair girl being killed in her van, then when the other girls in the house can't hear Diane's screams or the car horn honking several times, then when Valerie can't hear that one guy pounding on the front door - you get the idea. Stupid deaf people in horror movies are about as annoying as just plain old stupid people in horror movies.

So to end this somewhat incoherent and non-flowy review of Slumber Party Massacre, I'll say that I liked the movie. It's got some characters that aren't too annoying (for the most part), a pretty good body count, and it was created by two chicks. A nice, nostalgic look at 80s slashers, and there are better ones out there, but this one is mostly a good time and deserves its place in the cult favorites section of the horror genre - but still not really a "classic."


  1. I like this review - I think you've pegged this one right down. It's got some charms - but it's definitely no classic. Are you going to be working your way through the series and the myriad knockoffs?

  2. It's been a while since I last saw it, but I remember that I really, really loved it. It's fast, it's fun, most characters are pretty likable and the kills are kick-ass.

  3. This is one of those movies I have never been able to get my hands on, but really want to see.

  4. I love this cult fave...and it's crazy sequel!

  5. Hahahaha! I freakin' LOVE this movie! 80's Slasher flicks are my favorite.

  6. @Craig: It's an 80s charmer alright, and it's got its own thing going for it, but other movies definitely rank higher. I would love to see the sequels now that I've gotten my hands on the original, but Netflix doesn't have either of them! Short of buying them (which I'm not too comfortable with) I don't know how I'll get to see them!

    @Maynard: I thought the kills were kinda generic actually and there was nothing that really stood out for me. The gore was a bit better than I expected, though.

    @William: It's a cult favorite that I think any slasher needs to see... if not just for nostalgic purposes!

    @Kaijinu: I've been reading about the sequel, with the "rockabilly" driller killer, and I REALLY want to see it!

    @Jenny: Ha, I thought you'd like this one! It seems right up your alley!

  7. Those sequels are almost more interesting, but mostly for the wrong reason. That first one- what is that? The second one- just odd and surprisingly-downbeat.

    As far getting the films, there's a lovely 2-Disc Set collecting them. Now all we need are the Jim Wynorski sequels.