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Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

January 4, 2013

slumber_party_massacreBreasts, Blood, Body count. If you have an abundance of either, then you got yourself the makings of a classic slasher film. Usually, films that have a scarce amount of either of these conditions make up for it with a downright chilling story or a frightening villain that sends shivers up viewers spines and out into their pants. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween are prime examples of such. The 1970s and 1980s saw rise to the slasher film, churning out gory pictures as fast as McDonald’s turns that gooey pink stuff into chicken nuggets. Slumber Party Massacre is among the many that got spit out and although it’s the outline of the slasher genre, you can’t help but appreciate its bare bones.

When high schooler Trish’s parents go out-of-town she decides to have a slumber party at her house for her fellow basketball teammates. Her close friends all agree to join but rudely exclude the new girl and their fellow hot-shot player, Valerie. While the girls smoke pot and drink merrily at their slumber party, Valerie has a quiet evening at home babysitting her younger sister Courtney. However, to the ignorance of all the girls an escaped convict is on the loose with a power drill and desire to jam it through anyone he comes in contact with. One by one the girls are picked off, while the remainders stand their ground and attempt to fight back.

Slumber Party Massacre is the epitome of an 80s slasher film in all its glory. If you appreciate the genre for what it is, then Slumber Party Massacre is a somewhat of a treat. First and foremost it’s filled with gratuitous shots of ladies in the buff. For good reason of course, because naturally all the film’s main characters play sports and after a hard practice they must unwind and share the latest gossip in the showers; disgustingly sharing a single bar of soap and walking on shower room floors in bare feet. All the girls are in perfect shape and show it by wearing their shorts up to their navels so that just the bottom of their butts wink at onlookers. When viewers aren’t watching beautiful bodies shimmy on screen, there’s a pleasing amount of gory moments. The killer’s weapon of choice being a power drill results in squirts of blood spattered on floors and walls, gruesome moments of it ripping through body parts, as well as bloody eyeless sockets. And the deaths come in droves. Not even 20 minutes into the film two deaths happen and although the remaining deaths happen at slower paces the volume stays high. Even the killer likes to count his deeds to make sure he’s doing a successful job.

The film is also an admirable attempt of a slasher film from a feminist standpoint despite the gratuitous nude shots. I initially thought the director was a man who wanted to show appreciation to the usually degraded and petrified females in slasher films, but after some quick research I realized both the film’s writer and director were women. The women in Slumber Party Massacre aren’t just helpless stabbing bags, instead most of them are feisty, often fighting back showing off their strength and prowess. The boys are only there to lust after the girls and also fear the repercussions their joking antics may cause from the girls. Film theorist Laura Mulvey explained that most films are subject to the “male gaze,” where the camera looks over a women as a heterosexual male would, but in Slumber Party Massacre the gaze seems more delicate and flattering to women as if seeing them with an appreciation of the human body and not objectification.

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While it’s themes of female empowerment are strong, ultimately Slumber Party Massacre suffers from a cripplingly weak script. I felt as though I knew all the unseen characters due to the lengthy gossip that is discussed but when it comes to the actual characters, I’m at a loss for names. It even took me about 45 minutes to actually be able to differentiate between Valerie, Trish, and Coach Rachel (Thanks IMDB!), all brunette women who are just thrown on screen then taken away just as fast. There are ridiculously unnecessary characters that don’t amount to anything except scenes of an ominous character approaching from behind resulting in a false scare to main characters. There’s the overtly attentive and slightly creepy neighbor Mr. Contant, the gaggle of horny high school boys, and even main character Valerie has no pivotal role in the script until the last 20 minutes of the film.

Speaking of pointless characters, perhaps the film’s most annoying character is Valerie’s younger sister, Courtney, a character that seemed to only be included as a favor to the director. Frankly, Courtney is an absolutely pointless character who does nothing that a pet cat written into the script couldn’t do. All her character does is complain, bitch and moan… about everything. Also the fact that she’s clearly an adult playing a child is not made any better by the ridiculous constant reminders to the audience of this. Oh Courtney looks 22? Don’t worry, just give her a lollipop to lick during that scene. Oh wait, you don’t think they’ll buy she’s 14? Well just make all her lines be about how much she hates everything. Aside from being a brat, she’s unfortunately responsible for about half of the film’s false scares.

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Despite the bulging lust filled eyes and blood smeared face, the killer is pretty laughable. There’s no mystery to him because audiences are introduced to his face from the start of the film. The killer is your average psychopath and although there seems to be more to him he’s not fleshed out enough to be truly menacing. He repeatedly kills and delivers about two lines at the end but ultimately is bland. I laughed out loud a few times at some of his oddities like when he kills two characters then precedes to lie on their floor, pulling a blanket over his body and drill to sleep, but I never felt a true fear of him or urgency for the characters safety.

Slumber Party Massacre isn’t a beacon among slasher films despite its feminist approach. Its average at best with a few twists and turns but delivers nothing too out of the ordinary. While there’s not much to it, at the time I wanted to get a bit tipsy while watching a slasher film, Slumber Party Massacre definitely quenched that thirst. If you pass it while browsing through Netflix give it a chance, you know if you’ve got nothing else better to do.

AVOID IT. Unless slasher films are your thing.

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