Sunday, October 9, 2016

#2,216. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Directed By: Amy Jones

Starring: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella

Tag line: "Close your eyes for a second... and sleep forever"

Trivia: Michael Villella deliberately avoided talking to the other cast members during the shooting of the picture

Once movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th started raking in the cash, most figured it was only a matter of time before B-movie Guru Roger Corman threw his hat into the ‘80s slasher ring, which is exactly what he did with The Slumber Party Massacre. Yet, despite its usual mix of gruesome kills and gratuitous nudity, there’s more to this 1982 horror film than initially meets the eye.

With her parents out of town, high school senior Trish (Michele Michaels) invites her good friends Kim (Debra De Liso), Jackie (Andree Honore), and Diane (Gina Smika Hunter) to spend the night at her house. Against Diane’s wishes, an invitation is also extended to Valerie (Robin Stille), a new neighbor of Trish’s who recently transferred to their school (Valerie politely declines because has to babysit her 15-year-old sister Courtney, played by Jennifer Meyers). 

But it turns out Trish picked the worst possible evening to host a slumber party. Serial killer Russ Thorn (Michael Villela) has just escaped from a nearby mental facility, and when the sun goes down the friends will discover just how dangerous he truly is.

Aside from being a solid ‘80s slasher flick, The Slumber Party Massacre also has a few other things going for it. For one, it’s well directed by Amy Holden Jones; an early scene in which the killer is stalking Linda (Brinke Stevens) through the school's abandoned halls is tense as hell, as are the later sequences set inside Trish’s house (both before and after the shit hits the fan). 

Unlike other horror flicks of this era, The Slumber Party Massacre also boasts a large number of strong female characters. Along with being directed by a woman, the screenplay was penned by Rita Mae Brown, who infused the film's lead characters with more depth and personality than you'd find in most slashers.  In addition, Michael Villella turns in a remarkably creepy performance as the killer; though plenty sinister when he’s silently on the prowl, the scene where we hear him talk for the first time is particularly unsettling.

That said, The Slumber Party Massacre is every bit an ‘80s slasher film (thanks to the killer’s trusty drill, there's plenty of blood) that also benefits from the “Corman” touch (as mentioned in one of the DVD’s featurettes, nudity was an important part of a Roger Corman production around this time, which is why this movie's locker room shower sequence runs as long as it does). 

The fact that The Slumber Party Massacre also offers a bit more is just icing on the cake

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