Friday, March 6, 2009

The Slumber Party Massacre Review

Slumber Party Massacre Poster

In the 80's a growing number of films were starting to come out in a genre of horror called "slasher films". If you're reading this website, then you already know about this genre. This genre usually features a lot of cliche's and lots of gratuitous nudity. This 1982 film spawned 3 sequels, including two direct sequels and the spin off "Cheerleader Massacre". There's a box set out there called "The Massacre Collection" and has a few other films that are similar in nature to this film. While the plot of this film, looking back, is somewhat laughable by today's standards, there is still an element of fear and horror that doesn't really get a lot of people worked up any longer. So today we will look at the slasher horror film "The Slumber Party Massacre" from 1982, the first of many in the series. So here we go...

The Slumber Party Massacre series has one of the best series of posters in the business. I love the posters and while some might say that they are a bit on the misogynist side, I like them. The "A" frame style of graphic design on these posters usually involves a tool and a lot of scantily clad women. When I was younger, I thought these films were pornographic, because the films had no explanation on the back cover, it would just show another photo from the cover art with nothing else. If you recall pornographic films from the 80's and early 90's, before dvd, then you will remember that the movies came in oversized vhs boxes. The artwork on these porn films usually consisted of the star of the film on the front, not nude, and the back of the box had no porn on it. They usually consisted of a topless glamor shot or another photo from the same photo shoot that captured the front cover, and the synopsis of the film. The only way you would know it was a porno was if you were in the adult section or you were in the "know". I'm sure the marketing of The Slumber Party Massacre was trying to attach themselves to pornographic movie fans. But then again, maybe their goal was to get kids like me, who couldn't get into the adult section, to rent their crummy film. It's an interesting theory of sorts.

Back to the review....the plot of the film is simple enough. A bunch of teenage girls are having a sleepover, meanwhile there is a serial killer on the loose and the girls are all alone at their friends house, like sitting ducks. To throw a subplot into this film and make it more digestible, the writers put in a "Mean Girls" type of jealousy angle where the new girl doesn't get invited to the party, even though she's across the street! When the murderer attacks, it's up to the new girl to decide if she's going to help the girls that wronged her, or if she's just going to let them all die terrible deaths!

Here is a trailer for The Slumber Party Massacre from 1982:

The quality of the film is not that good. The movie is shot on film, but the grain is terrible. This movie is definitely just a few steps above a grindhouse picture. The transfer I saw was probably a few notches above a vhs transfer, and wasn't all that great. I did enjoy the film as a whole, but the darkness was really dark and the brightness was too bright at times. It definitely was not made with cinematography in mind.

The movie's characters are obviously not teenagers. The majority of the girls look way older and this is due in large part to the fact that there weren't a lot of young actresses that wanted a piece of the slasher film pie, unless there was a lot of money involved. However, the fact that these women were older meant that we get to see a true R rating. There is a lot of gratuitous nudity, and a shower scene. You can't get away with this type of nudity in these modern times. It's hilarious to note how the body shapes are different, but moreover how the camera stays just in front of the nude bodies to make this an R rating for the sake of it.

Is The Slumber Party Massacre scary ?: Yes. In the way that this film shows off how helpless we were and are. Sure, technology has helped us a lot. The people in this film could've been helped easily with a cell phone. With modern times, the minute something weird was going down, someone would've called the police with a cell phone and the pedophile serial killer would get arrested and that would've been that.

These girls are dumb. The girls don't call the cops immediately, they don't lock themselves up stairs where it's a little harder to get to. They don't even fight very hard, they just run scared, and each get taken out one by one. They are completely clueless and scared and are panicking. True to life, if you read the news, you will realize that a lot of victims don't go tooth and nail to fight their killer. It's a scary thing to see these girls taken out, however the movie makes you feel that they have it coming to them for treating the new girl badly.

A scary moment in this film happens with the way the killer is killing people. He is using a drill with a long drill bit to mutilate and kill his victims. This occurs fast and furious, and before the victim knows it, it's over. The gruesome nature of the killings is scary, but moreover, it's scary to think that there are no neighbors around hearing this go on. The killer is using a drill! Drills are loud and killing people with them, drilling holes in doors and running around turning the drill on to scare people really makes a lot of noise. Not only that, there is a lot of screaming in this film and it seems that no one cares, even though these girls live in a suburban neighborhood.

I don't live in Suburbia anymore, but when I was a kid I did. I lived in Valencia, California for a short time and out there, it seemed like everyone was a little more friendly. If anything bad happened or if anyone was screaming and yelling, people would find out fast and would spring into action. It was interesting to me that so many people were embracing of me and my family from the day we moved in, to the day my mom and I rushed out of the house with all our belongings and never looked back. So to think that there was a time in Suburbia that neighbors didn't care about screams, an escaped murderer and the drilling at odd hours of the night is ludicrous! Which makes my next point that more valid.

This movie is scary because of how callous people are. In the previous paragraph, I hinted at the fact that the movie shows off callous neighbors. Now put that into modern times. Do you know your neighbors? Would the come help you if you were screaming? I live in an Apartment complex in Seattle, Wa. There are at least 100 people living in my complex and I don't know anyone at all. I have said hello to my neighbor once. I grew up (except for that small stint in suburbia) in Culver City, California in a large house that we rented from a friend. We didn't know ANYONE! If we were all slaughtered, no one would have come to our aid. The scary thing is that this film showcases that no one cares about one another. At least not in large cities, and while this movie takes place in Suburbia for the most part, the fact that today no one really cares about their neighbors is the scariest thing that came out of this film for me. Seriously, how callous have we become?

The Slumber Party Massacre is in the same vein of other slasher films from the 80's, but overall it's not as good. The killer, at least, is not super natural like the ones in the Friday the 13th Sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Shocker or other slasher films in the genre. The movie isn't very long, the grainy nature of it makes it a nice companion piece to other grindhouse era films of the early 80's and I might have seen this film in an East Los Angeles theater when I was a kid. Yeah, my parents let me see a lot of crap when i was too young, but whatever. I recommend The Slumber Party Massacre as a nice slasher film, but not the best in the genre. The artwork on the posters is better than the film. The second and third films in this series are a little better, which is odd, but hey, it happens. I mean, I liked Friday the 13th: Jason Goes to Hell, so there.

As a bonus, here is two other posters from The Slumber Party Massacre series. I'm tellin yah, these are like porn parodies in a way...or am I alone on this thought line?

Slumber Party massacre 2 poster

Slumber Party massacre 3 poster

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  1. Nice Review Jorge - brought back memories. . .

    I never did see the sequels - interesting that you say they are better - guess I will have to plan a triple feature in the future ;-)

  2. The second one is my favorite, but it's more a personal thing than a real preference.

  3. I think that, as cliched and distinctly non-feminist as SPM is, it's totally addicting and stands head and shoulders above most early '80s slasher flicks in terms of sheer entertainment value. The severed-limb-heavy finale is one of the most memorable demises for a slasher villain ever!


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A writer first, cat lover second, and some other stuff too. Human, with lots of faults, and terrible communication.
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