The Slumber Party Massacre Reviews
Interestingly, the screenplay was written by feminist Rita Mae Brown, who intended for her script to be a parody of the slasher genre. Instead, it was filmed as a straight-forward slasher, so it both follows and subverts the rules of the genre. The guys are weak and ineffectual, with serious manhood issues, and their onscreen deaths are more brutal than the girls'. Most of the girls are likeable, and they're not complete weaklings as they band together to fight back against their attacker. There's even humor to be found in the requisite nude scenes. The camera lingers just a bit too long on one girl's butt, and the dialogue includes "I think your tits are getting bigger," to which a chorus of girls excitedly ask, "Mine?" Another example, the boys answer the door expecting the pizza delivery guy. They say, "what's the damage?" On the other end you hear, "six... so far." "Six, even? Okay."
I guess the danger present in watching Slumber Party Massacre is that of not being in on the joke, and since on the surface it reads as a fairly conventional slasher with some fun quirks, a little background information (or an especially astute eye) probably enhances this film significantly. This film warps the rules in surprisingly subtle ways, enough so that a seasoned veteran of the genre could spot and appreciate its in-jokes while people who are just looking for a straight horror film will be adequately entertained. On a brute force technical level, it's not much to write home about - it's obviously shot on the cheap, acted with varying degrees of proficiency, not lit especially well and featuring scares that only work sometimes - but the force of its ideas and the pervasive sense of sheer fun really make it worth watching.
In the same vein as Halloween (though not nearly as good) it manages to create that classic 80's suspense. The basic premise is that there is a slumber party and the teenagers begin to get picked off one by one - your pretty standard slasher affair. In terms of nudity we get a few decent glimpses of T&A and I would say thats OK, its not overdone.
Blood is sadly lacking I'm afraid. Although it picks up a bit at the end, it still leaves the film feeling a bit "bare". Halloween can enthral its audience with suspense and atmosphere, but as this film lacks a bit in this department, we're left with a gap to fill.
Complaints aside, it does the job pretty well, we have a houseful of satisfyingly terrified teenagers, lots of screaming and running and some decent music.
But yeah, if you're a slasher fan or a fan of 80's horror in general, I recommend giving this a view. Just to say you've seen it, and its a good Halloween substitute (I thought I could go a review without mentioning Halloween, but oh well).
There are 3 moments of inspiration: a woman banging on the window of a van as two students walk away, blood trickling under a door giving away a girl's hiding spot, and a body not quite discovered in the refrigerator. The rest is mostly routine mayhem with poor acting, a vanilla killer, and so-so effects on a tiny budget. Interesting factoid that this was directed by a woman, which is rare in the horror genre, but you won't recognize any feminist slant to it.
Acting: I've run out of ways to say this. Cardboard cutouts of teenage stereotypes. All the actresses need to know is how to scream. That and they know how to die in a dramatic fashion. that's all anyone in these movies know how to do (except for the killer obviously) if you come right down to it. Some just know how to do it much better than others. this one was on the lower end of the scale. 2/10
Plot: *sarcasm* Killer killing girls. Original. Girls being killed alone in house with no parents at night. Original. Girls just sit there while killer slices them up after the killer finds them hiding in a place where there is no way out. Original. Even in those brief moments where the girl might have a drop on the killer she still does something stupid. That's original. *sarcasm ends here* Just take all of the stereotypical horror stuff and it's in here. although, the Killer and the signature weapon are original I suppose. That helps some but not a lot. But really, the second you finish meeting all of the characters, you knew who was going to die, and frankly you knew what minute of the movie. It was that unoriginal. 2/10
Screenplay: whatever. I've run out of negative things to say here. .5/10
Likableness: well, it's a different kind of killer slicing up girls in a sort of original way I guess. But it was still same old same old. 4/10
Final Score: 8.5/40 21% (S)
TRIVIA TIME: Rita Mae Brown wrote a screenplay for a parody of teen/slasher flicks and titled it "Sleepless Nights". However, when she submitted it to the producers, they filmed it as if it weren't a parody and retitled it "Slumber Party Massacre". As a result, the movie displays a lot more humor, both intended and unintended, than others of this genre.
So why doesn't it have a place? While doing my research on slashers for THE BIG THREE ARE AFTER ME, this incredibly well done, extremely low budget Corman factory production is hardly mentioned. I'll add that my personal favorite slasher - MY BLOODY VALENTINE with the gore added back in (thanks, MPAA!) - is also not high on the list. Is it because the plots make sense and the characters aren't being idiots? Because the female characters have agency and the ability to fight back? Quite possibly, and SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE is also based on a script by feminist Rita Mae Brown (who kept screenwriting credit) and directed by Amy Holden Jones. Obviously women. (Shhhh - there's sort of a feminist message in it. AVERT YOUR EYES)
Amy Holden Jones said that after this movie, which went around the world and apparently netted her zero residuals on the buckets of money it made for Corman's company, she was unable to get an agent, a manager, and, presumably, meetings. She talked Corman into funding her next writer/director project, an arty film called LOVE LETTERS with Jamie Lee Curtis. Let's just meditate for a moment on the fact that a woman with seemingly no love for slashers, who had not even seen HALLOWEEN, made a slasher that is not only great but is also respectful of the genre (boobs! blood!) and of the characters (brains!).
After LOVE LETTERS, Holden Jones directed two more movies, but she said that just slipped away eventually since she never had regular opportunities. She doesn't even think about directing now. Holden Jones has had a great career as a writer (MYSTIC PIZZA, BEETHOVEN, created the tv series BLACK BOX), and for this I'm glad. But how many great writer/directors have we missed out on because they're female, minority, or LGBT? We're silencing more than half of our cultural collateral, and this is just wrong.
An escaped psycho stalks a group of girls having a (duh) slumber party, intermittently broken up by boys crashing the party.
Good stuff, well worth a rental if you have the chance.