THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982)
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Not one to leave any stone unturned, Roger Corman’s New World Pictures entered the slasher fray with this fun and bloody tale of a madman slaughtering his way through a slumber party. Flick has serial killer Russ Thorn (Michael Villella) and his trusty power drill escaping from prison and getting down to business at a local high school. A bunch of the high school girls basketball team are getting together for a slumber party at pretty Trish’s (Michelle Michaels) house and good ole Russ overhears and decides to crash. A night of blood, boobies and drill bits ensues.
Another instance when Corman proved himself a boundary breaker by hiring two women to write (Rita Mae Brown) and direct (Amy Holden Jones) a horror film decades before those boundaries finally came crashing down. Jones doesn’t really give Slumber Party any real strong intensity or suspense, but it is colorful, fun and has the proper amount of blood and boobs to make it a Corman production. While certainly influenced by Halloween, the film doesn’t try to emulate it, other than using the slasher formula and instead has a bit more fun with the scenario. It’s not a outright comedy, though it knows what it is and just goes with it, leaving any pretensions of equalling Carpenter’s classic behind. Jones does give her sleazy psycho some menace and his victims are cute and perky high school girl types who disrobe often and Brown’s script interestingly leaves main final girl Valerie (Robin Stille) on the sidelines till the last act. She’s a neighbor and new student at school, who turned down a party invitation, but comes over to help once she starts to feel something is wrong next door. Not groundbreaking, but again, the film has a little fun with the expected conventions, such as Valerie is babysitting younger sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers), so that does make her a babysitter. The film has an appropriately moody score by Ralph Jones, some colorful cinematography by Stephen L. Posey and at 77 minutes doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
The cast all range from fine to adequate. The girls are all pretty and the boys that crash the party are typical horny boys just there for body count. Michael’s Trish is a little snobby but still likable. Stille’s Valerie is a sweet girl next door type who is resented by Trish for being the new rival for attention at school. Obviously, she becomes quite resilient when dealing with Thorn. Meyers is the typical annoying younger sister, but looks twice the age of the ‘twelve’ that she’s supposed to be. Villella’s Russ Thorn barely speaks, but is an intense looking man and makes a suitable psycho killer and his handiwork is quite gruesome.
I like this 80s slasher. It’s not great, but it is a lot of fun and delivers the boobs and blood in typical Corman exploitation style. It has a good time with the conventions of the sub-genre yet, doesn’t make so much fun of the story as to make a joke out of it. Director Jones does a good job of delivering an entertaining horror. It never really gets really intense or scary, though it does deliver the blood spattering. An enjoyable 80s slasher that would spawn two more sequels and another example of Corman giving women a voice in horror long before it was considered ‘acceptable’ by other studios.
As for proof Roger Corman was a pioneer in giving women writers and directors a voice in horror, hit the link HERE to read our exposé FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!
3 drill bits