Andrew E’s Forgotten Gems; The Slumber Party Massacre (Trilogy) Review
Slumber Party Massacre is a trilogy of slasher movies that often gets overlooked but I would argue deserves a place as a respectful cult horror franchise. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, there is a multitude of movies with similar titles, but there are only officially 3 films in this franchise.
The film was originally written by Rita Mae Brown as a parody of the slasher genre; however, it was instead filmed as a straight horror film. As a result, it contains more humor, both intended and unintended, than usual for the genre. Slumber Party Massacre is the first horror franchise in history whose films were directed exclusively by women (Part 1; Amy Holden Jones, Part 2; Deborah Brock, Part 3; Sally Mattison). All three installments were produced by the horror titan Roger Corman.
All the films were unexpected theatrical hits, they didn’t make millions upon millions, but they respectfully earnt their production budgets back and profit and that’s not including home video and rental revenue which would have been a huge stream of income for the franchise.
- The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) was made on a budget of $220,000 and earnt a respectful $3.6 million in the box office.
- Slumber Party Massacre Part 2 (1987) was made on a budget of $500,000 and earnt $1.5 million in the box office.
- Slumber Party Massacre Part 3 (1990) was made on a budget of $350,000 and earnt a respectful $1.2 million in the box office.
Reviews of each film:
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) – Firstly I am ashamed to admit, though I had heard this movie mentioned a thousand times, and referenced in lots of horror paraphernalia, I had never actually given the movie a proper viewing. Until now, and what a relief – the first installment to the franchise did not disappoint. Slumber Party Massacre was a brilliant piece of slasher-tastic art of a time gone by. The movie pacts in blood, guts, and gore and the exploitive nudity that movies of that time were known for.
The movie focuses on a high school group of teenage girls who are planning a slumber party after the announcement that Trish’s parents are going away for the weekend. Our stars are Trish (Michelle Michaels), Jackie (Andree Honore), Diane (Gina Smika Hunter) and Kim (Debra De Liso) who gather together for one horrific night.
This film has now gained a spot in my Top Ten favorite slashers!
Throw into the mix the new girl, Valerie (Robin Stille) who is new at school and happens to be better at basketball than the main group’s team. After some bitchy locker room chat, the new girl receives a rather smirky invitation to the slumber party but smartly decides to stay at home (which magically is across the street from Trish’s house). Que Michael Villella a deranged driller wielding killer (who recently escaped prison after a string of murders 5 years ago), the bodies start dropping left, right and center until Valerie decides she (and her younger sister Courtney, played by Jennifer Meyers) should investigate the strange going’s on at the slumber party. The movie is filled with inventive deaths, sex chat, and a group of over horny undersexed boys. There is a beautiful showdown poolside with all the surviving girls banding together to take down their foe. And I refuse to find a person that won’t laugh with the refrigerator body stunt.
I love the simplicity of the script. It doesn’t try to be too clever and inventive, it delivers on its title. I was later to learn that the film’s writer Rita Mae Brown originally penned the script as a comedy spoof of the horror genre. But legendary producer Roger Corman, wanted it to be a straight playing horror, which is why you can see some rather amusing moments throughout the film. I think this really adds to the film, it’s funny and serious and doesn’t mess around. There are no harrowing backstories, no long-winded motivations for the killer, just an escaped murder who stumbles on a high school begins killing and learns of a party and goes there and kills! The movie times in at 1 hour 15mins so it packs a lot into short run time.
Notable also Slumber Party Massacre is the first ever film role taken by the now cult legend and icon Brinke Stevens. Brinke has a few lines in the movie and plays Linda, a friend of the girls and planning to attend the slumber party. However, for poor Linda, she never makes the party after having to return to school due to forgetting a school book only to be chased down by the driller killer slashing her to pieces. Though Linda’s death is never shown on screen. Which makes me think maybe she survived and could return Laurie Strode style for the 40th anniversary.
GRUEMONKEY RATING: 4/5 GrueMonkey’s!
The Slumber Party Massacre Part 2 (1987) –
Courtney Bates, the younger sister of Valerie (from the Slumber Party Massacre part 1, they both survived), and her friends go to their condo for a weekend getaway, but Courtney can’t get rid of the haunting feeling that a supernatural rockabilly driller killer is coming to murder them all.
The role of Courtney was re-cast from original actress Jennifer Meyers to Crystal Bernard as the film has jumped forward in time showing an older 17-year-old Courtney (who was allegedly 10 in part 1).
The movie starts re-introducing an older Courtney Bates (Crystal Bernard) who is suffering from PTSD and having nightmare flashbacks to the events of the first film she and her sister narrowly escaped. We do however learn Courtney’s older sister Valarie is not doing so well and has been institutionalized due to the trauma, though this is only mentioned not shown. Courtney and her friends Sally (Heidi Kozak Haddad), Sheila (Juliette Cummins), Amy (Kimberly McArthur) are apart of an all-female rock band. Courtney is infatuated with Matt (Patrick Lowe) another high school boy. The girls decide to take a trip to one of their families cabins (which is a giant mansion) and Courtney invites her crush, Matt. Invite in another couple of sex deprived high school boys and a rather bizarre all girls dancing champagne spraying, somewhat topless pillow fight and we are all having a good time. The movie continues to bring you back to that everytime Courtney closes her eyes she sees a guitar-drill (because that’s normal?) wielding maniac tearing apart her friends. The movie plods on a little until such time her dreams are not limited to the dream world and the trendy punk guitar-driller killer begins to reduce Courtney’s friendship circle one by one.
Who the F**K thought of attaching a drill to a guitar?
What’s different about Part 2 is that the movie is very much presented in the vein of Nightmare on Elm Street; Dream Warriors. The film alludes to the fact that this killer could, in fact, be another Freddy type monster but at the last minute reveals that isn’t the case. The music and campness of this 80’s classic are just hilarious. The Driller Killer (Atanas Ilitch) is a lovable murderer with witty (and creepy) one-liners. he is also ridiculously handsome. The issue I had with Part 2 is felt like until the end two different movies smashed together. I am also left at the end of the film thinking do I understand? – ha-ha.
[SPOILER for a 32-year-old movie]
The movie allows the audience to believe that even though Courtney has been dreaming of the punk-rock driller killer that he is, in fact, a real-life person. He has either escaped the dreamland or was never in it, his character is never given any type of explanation or motive. Regardless he stalks and kills all of Courtney’s friends before attempting to kill her. After Courtney sets him on fire the audience believes he is dead. When paramedics are removing one of her friend’s bodies she asks to remove the blanket (covering the deceased) and starts stroking her head before her corpse becomes re-animated with the smile and laugh of the punk rock driller – killer. The film then cuts to an insane asylum where Courtney is just screaming before a drill bursts through the floor.
My understanding of this is that Courtney only dreamt of the Driller Killer. It was a delusional psychotic episode, maybe he was actually a musical hero of hers? and her mind got confused and she herself was actually the person carrying out the murders but her mind was telling her it was this fantasy rock-star?
Or my other option; that none of the events of the film actually happened. It was all pure fantasy as she has been locked up in the asylum due to the past trauma she experienced in the first movie the whole time, you decide…..?
What I will say is that you haven’t ever seen a guitar with a working drill stuck on the end which is used to kill, sing and dance with, but dam you will find it in this film. So if you want an 80’s rock and roll sing-a-long slasher sequel you will love it.
A slight side note (and unrelated) Patrick Lowe is a really beautiful man!
GRUEMONKEY RATING: 2.5/5 GrueMonkey’s!
The Slumber Party Massacre Part 3 (1990) –
Jackie Cassidy and her friends are stalked by a serial killer while having a slumber party.
The movie opens on yet another bunch of beautiful teenagers, this time playing an innocent game of volleyball on the beech – in minimal beech attire (of course). Girls Vs Sex obsessed boys. This installment doesn’t waste time jumping into the films first death in less than 8 minutes. During the Volleyball game, an intense young man with a ponytail sits nearby the group simply just call “the weirdo” (Yan Birch) and much like a creepy killer stalker stares at them.
We are introduced to this films leading lady Jackie (Keely Christian) whose parents are out of town as they are selling their family home. A neighbor named Morgan (M.K. Harris) is in the house when Jackie (Keely Christian, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD II) comes home acting weird and invading some serious personal space. He is later seen spying on the girls with a telescope. The boys (the girls played volleyball with) show up uninvited and scare the girls with Halloween masks while they’re dancing around partially naked, this is a nod to both the previous installments with the ridiculous antics of the girls when they are having their parties. I mean as a gay man I have had attended many an all-female sleepover and never have the girls cheered each other to strip naked and dance for each other so often. Maybe I am not going to the right sleepovers. We then begin to hear the Michael Myers sounds (heavy breathing) of someone watching the girls from outside.
Bodies start dropping and fast – one of the boys is violently killed by someone wearing a translucent mask, but the girls just dismiss the strange sounds they hear as a lame joke. Then, “the weirdo” from the beach frightens Jackie and Diane (Brandi Burkett) when they think it was one of the boys. Even though the stranger was only trying to return Jackie’s address book she dropped at the beach, Jackie calls the police, but they don’t take any actions in preventing it from happening again.
What follows is a night filled with action-packed terror and suspense as the killer is revealed and the guest’s fight to survive.
With some notable nods to other horror movies like Halloween smashing through a closet this movie also reminded me at times of SCREAM even though it was made years before. Maybe this was an inspiration for SCREAM. The third installment, in my opinion, is stronger than part 2 as it’s cleaner in presentation and storyline. I think the gore factor from part 3 was respectable it was more bloody than part 2. The acting was good throughout and was a worthy sequel to the original.
GRUEMONKEY RATING: 3.5/5 GrueMonkey’s!
Unofficial Sequel; Cheerleader Massacre (2003) –
Just a side note, in 2003 a movie was made intended to be an official sequel (eg. Slumber Party Massacre 4). For some reason it didn’t manage to get the rights to earn its title, so was re-titled ‘Cheerleader Massacre‘. The movie focused on five high school cheerleaders, their coach and a couple of adolescent sex-crazed guys travel to a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway only to be killed off one by one by an unseen maniac. The movie also starred Brinke Stevens reprising her role as Linda, who recounts her ordeal of facing the dreaded Driller Killer in Slumber Party Massacre part 1. They even use footage from the film. Not sure why it wasn’t an official sequel, but maybe it’s just an expanded universe.
I will not fully review this film as technically it isn’t apart of the official franchise but thought it was worth noting. There was also a sequel made in 2011 purely titled ‘Cheerleader Massacre 2‘.
Check out the official documentary for each installment of the Slumber Party Massacre franchise: