The Slumber Party Massacre

11/18/2018 08:56

Film: The Slumber Party Massacre

Year: 1982

Director: Amy Holden Jones

Writer: Rita Mae Brown

Starring: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille and Michael Villella



This was a film that I remember hearing about growing up, but had never gotten around to seeing it. I made it part of my 31 Days of Halloween challenge as it fit into a couple of categories for me. I had also heard podcasts talk about it, so I was also intrigued. The official synopsis is a high school student’s slumber party turns terrifying as an escaped mental patient with a drill decides to crash the evening.

Now this film doesn’t really pull any punches. You learn from the beginning that there is an escaped convict who had murdered 5 people. We start off though in the room of Trish (Michelle Michaels). She gets dressed and heads off to school. It is at this time we see her parents are going away for the weekend and the neighbor will check in on her. We also see as she throws a bunch of toys, dolls and stuffed animals away. This will come into play a little later.

At school we see her planning a slumber party. She wants to get all of her friends together like the old days. It is harder to do as they are getting older and getting boyfriends. She invites Kim (Debra De Liso), Jackie (Andree Honore) and Diane (Gina Smika Hunter). Diane is trying to find a way to spend time with her boyfriend that night as well. Trish also invites the new girl, Valerie (Robin Stille). There is this odd moment where Diane doesn’t want her to. It seems part of it is that Valerie is not only better at basketball, but prettier, so she is threatened. Valerie declines.

It is while they are at school we see the killer, Russ Thorn (Michael Villella). He hides in the van for a phone repair woman and kills her. She has the drill inside and he takes that as his weapon. As school ends for the week, he sneaks in after Linda (Brinke Stevens). He murders her in the locker room.

The girls get over to Trish’s house and are murdered one by one. Some boys show up and they also fall victim. Across the street are Valerie and her younger sister, Courtney (Jennifer Meyers). They get pulled into the mix when they hear strange noises.

Now this film is intriguing to me in that it is written and directed by women. This is considered a feminist film and after seeing it, I can see why. I’m assuming that the young women being dumb are trying to poke fun at the slasher genre that was really into full effect by the time this was made. The bigger subtext I get from it is the ending of innocence. Trish wants to have a slumber party like the old days, but boys come over, Diane going off with her boyfriend and the killer makes it where it can’t be like the old days.

Going from this final point also is that the killer is using a drill. It is a clearly a phallic symbol, much more than even a knife like other slasher films. The way that the killer holds it at times, we see it hanging down between his legs. Using on these young women is metaphorically of taking their innocence as well. It really isn’t subtle, but I think the director wasn’t trying to be.

Something that I was disappointed with was despite the low running time, this film has pacing issues. It gets right into it with the first two deaths happening pretty quickly. We then go through a lull where the killer is stalking the young women, but we also get a bunch of red herrings to throw us off. I found myself bored until the deaths start to happen again. It is interesting though, because I do find the stalking of the characters good in some films. I think that this one comes off a bit too comical and it doesn’t work. I will say it does pick up from there and end with a flurry. I thought the ending was good. It also seems to be that the killer is emasculated in how he is killed.

The acting in this film did leave something to be desired. It took me a bit to figure out the names of the characters, because they are really bland. I think some of the stronger slasher films actually introduce the characters so we care about them. I really only felt that for Stille. I wanted to know why she was isolating herself, but we never get that. Michaels I felt bad for as well as she is trying to get everyone together one last time, but no one seems to want to. Villella is good at playing the psycho killer, but we don’t get a lot of character development for him. Meyers character was very odd to me. There is an weird scene where she is reading her sister’s Playgirl. I felt this was showing that it is socially acceptable for men, why not for women. To finish this category off, I’d say the acting is lacking, but it might be more of lacking character development.

Something that was strong for this film was the effects. I thought that they for the most part they looked good. The missing eyes of the pizza man to the slashes that are made with the drill all looked solid to me. The blood was a good color and it was used pretty well. The only issue I did have was when a character gets his hand cut off; there should have been a fountain of blood coming from it. Pretty much none comes out and it took away some realism there for me.

The score for the film was actually pretty good too. It definitely helped set the mood for the scenes. When it gets dramatic, I thought the selections helped to build tension. I do have to give props to this film for that.

Now with that said, I’m glad I saw this film as it is quite interesting. Coming in I kind of had an idea of what to expect. I can see how this film is feminist and it came off as a satire to the slasher genre. I do think some stylistic choices hurt this film though. The story is very basic, but I love the subtext of growing up and losing the innocence. Acting for the film wasn’t good unfortunately as it lacked character depth. I thought the weapon the killer used was a solid choice, but the film had some pacing issues which hurt. The effects though were good as was the score of the film. I do think this film is above average. I’d only recommend if you like the genre and want to see a film that satires it. If you are into nudity, this one would be for you as well.


My Rating: 6 out of 10