I’m putting up a photo of teenage girls sharing a shower (and when I say “teenage” I mean women in the their late twenties pretending to be girls) rather than the usual gory mayhem because quite frankly sex sells. And the makers of Slumber Party Massacre know this. There are a lot of naked woman in this movie. In the early part of this horror film before any of the, you know, horror, most of the female actresses are presented naked for the audience’s pleasure. In the above shower scene a girl has to pass a towel to her neighbour, rather than just reaching over to the next cubicle, she does a full 360 so we see her breasts before handing it over. Then the camera moves down to look at her arse for a bit.
I say all this because the director is a woman, rare in Hollywood, even rarer in the horror genre. Being in the exploitation field, Amy Holden Jones get stuck right into the sex side of things, with T&A everywhere, shame she doesn’t carry the gore off quite so well. Also she knows her audience, the closest we get to seeing a naked man is when the heroine’s little sister finds a copy of Playgirl with Sylvester Stallone on the front cover. That might be the scariest bit of the movie.
The title says all you need to know about the film, a bunch of girls hold a slumber party, a killer is on the loose, a massacre ensues. Apparently the film was written as a spoof of the slasher genre (in it’s prime in 1982), however it is filmed so straight a lot of the humour gets lost in amongst all the drillings and choppings. Our killer’s main weapon of choice is a large power drill, which he frequently hold down between his legs. A subtle bit of symbolism this is not. The girls are always talking about sex, getting naked with each other and flirting with the boys, but a “real” man with his big tool is a terrifying proposition. It gets worse when he starts proclaiming his love for them and how he wants to drill them because he loves them so much.
Most slasher movies like the killer to have a look: Freddy with his knifey finger glove, Jason with his hockey mask, Cropsy with his melty face and garden shears. The killer in Slumber Party Massacre goes for one of the most terrifying looks ever committed to film – double denim. His matching jeans and jacket combo are very clean and fairly tight around the groin area, and are disturbing in ways I can’t even begin to describe. In fact that might be the main problem with the film. We meet the killer pretty early on and he looks so normal (apart from his wild bugging eyes and even wilder over-acting) that he is not scary in the slightest. In fact this whole production struggles with a distinct lack of suspense and thrills. Despite some lovely tracking shots and interesting camera angles it never builds up momentum like Halloween does. Mind you, hardly any of the slasher films from this era can even begin to hold a candle to Halloween. Most of them don’t even try.
I think the makers definitely made a go of it with this one though. There’s some nice humour, for example the pizza delivery guy falls through the doorway, eyeballs drilled out. One of the girls asks if he’s dead. “He’s definitly dead alright, he’s so cold.” “How about the pizza?”. The final girl, Robin Stille, looks like a vogue model but is pretty charming (unlike her Sylvester Stallone obsessed younger sister who is an awful brat as is the law in horror movies) even if her character is terribly under written. And following on from last week’s Zoltan review, there’s more unnecessary dog death, in case anyone is interested in such things.
But overall I think the film is a bit of it’s time. It’s funny but not funny enough, and a spoof of a specifitc sub-genre and a specific time. Gorehounds will be disappointed in the mostly off screen kills. Only sex pests will get much of a thrill out of it with all it’s luring, pervy camera shots. Possibly not the result Jones was after, but like I say, at least she tried.