June 17, 2021

‘Slumber Party Massacre’ Movie Review

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Due to Shout! Studios announcing a remake of ‘Slumber Party Massacre’ will be releasing this year, we at Horrorfacts thought we would take a look at the original 1982 film.    

When ‘Slumber Party Massacre’ was first conceived, writer Rita Mae Brown intended it to be a parody of the slasher genre, titling it, ‘Sleepless Nights.’  

Brown, who was known for being a feminist writer/activist, had intended for the film to break away from the stereotypical helpless female characters that had become the standard in the horror genre. Up to this point, women in horror were typically portrayed as oversexed bombshells, dumb blondes, or shy virgins.

In ‘Slumber Party Massacre,’ you get the sense that the female characters were intended to be more self sufficient and capable of making more educated decisions than your typical slasher heroine. In fact, the characters only seem to be at risk when they abandon this new found logic and put themselves in stereotypical slasher situations, especially when they allow themselves to be persuaded by the opposite sex.

What Brown’s original script looked like has unfortunately been lost to time. After Roger Corman got a hold of the film, it went from being a parody to just another 80’s slasher film, though it managed to retain some comedic elements, which was not conventional for slasher movies at the time.     

Corman, who is known for incorporating nudity and violence into his films as a means of making them more profitable, had director Amy Holden Jones alter the film to include these elements into the finished product.

The film’s plot focuses on Trish, who decides to have a sleepover with her fellow basketball teammates while her parents are out of town and escaped murderer Russ Thorn is on the loose.

The new girl, Valerie, is invited but turns them down after she overhears some of the girls on the team talking about her behind her back. Instead, Valerie spends the night taking care of her younger sister, Courtney. Valerie also just so happens to live in the house across the street from Trish.

Over the course of the night, Trish, Kim, Jackie, and Debra, along with two of their male classmates who crash the slumber party – Neil and Jeff – and Debra’s boyfriend John are all stalked and killed by the drill-wielding Russ Thorn.

Valerie and her sister observe the house from their home before eventually deciding to go over to investigate.     

The movie ends in a stereotypical showdown with the killer.

Thanks to Brown’s writing, the female protagonists in the movie actually make good decisions, including not going outside at times to investigate strange noises, traveling in groups when they must go outside, and displaying that they have the ability to defend themselves. But, because of Corman’s influence, the same girls also get naked on screen for no reason, including a long group shower scene that had little to do with furthering the plot, and a changing scene in the middle of the living room. They also spend the majority of the movie in skimpy outfits. 

The movie’s killer, Russ Thorn, is not your stereotypical slasher villain either. He appears very early into the film and has a considerably large amount of screen time, as opposed to other slasher films where the killer is only seen for brief periods of time. He also doesn’t wear a mask and isn’t physically disfigured in any way. He looks like some normal guy with an affection for denim. 

Thorn’s instrument of death is mostly a power drill with a large drill bit that he uses to impale his victims. The size of the drill bit and the fact that he often walks around with the drill between his legs largely implies that it is meant to symbolize his manhood. This is really emphasized when we have a between the legs shot of the killer and the drill is hanging between his legs while Debra is laying defenseless on the ground in front of him. A similar image is also used for the movie’s poster.

The movie itself has a run time of only 77 minutes. It has the most forgettable killer and has female protagonists that at times make smart decisions, while at other times they make idiotic decisions, including playing the piano when they hear someone in the house. 

On a scale of one to five, I give ‘Slumber Party Massacre’ a three out of five stars.

If you’re a fan of campy 80’s slasher films, this will check every box. It has a high body count, it has some half decent kills, and it features a couple comedic moments. If cheesy 80’s horror is not your thing then I recommend you pass on this one.