DECEMBER 2, 2007
I don’t think I’ve ever been as freaked out in my life as I was when watching Slumber Party Massacre at a midnight screening at my beloved New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. I hadn’t seen the film since I was 6 (I think it was the first slasher movie I ever saw), and had barely even thought about it since. But at two moments during the film, it became clear that the film had left some sort of impression on me as a little kid that would resurface as a senior in high school.
Now, before I explain, I should note that Massacre was actually written as a parody of slasher movies, but filmed fairly straightforward, resulting in a movie that’s as unintentionally hilarious as it is intentionally so. If the characters referenced other slasher movies, Scream would have to be declared a complete ripoff, in fact. Anyway, when I was 18, my friend Jeff and I made a short film (little over a half hour) that was also a parody/straight slasher, set in high school. And one of the few scenes that I think came out really good (the film is so bad I can’t even bring myself to watch it nowadays) was the killing of one character in the school gym after everyone else had gone home. His death occurred mostly offscreen; we see the killer lunge at him and then I cut to some stationary shots of the empty gym, as we listen to his screams. So it’s not exactly Hitchcock, but I was pretty proud of it. Well, in Massacre, the exact same goddamn thing happens! There’s a little more blood (we used ketchup, and quite obviously so), but it ends the same way – screams over an empty basketball court. Weird. Then, toward the end of my film, two characters begin arguing over one of them forgetting to lock a door, something that ALSO occurs in Massacre (even the same line – “You didn’t lock it!” is used). Now again, there had been 12-13 years in between seeing Massacre and writing my movie, so I found this pretty strange.
Anyway, even without strange subconscious burn-in, the movie is pretty awesome. The fact that it was written, produced, and directed by women results in some great fun. They mock the rampant nudity in slasher films (at one point panning down and holding on a girl’s ass for no reason whatsoever, just long enough for an audience of intelligence to know it’s supposed to be a joke, not simply gratuitous), plus have a lot of fun at the expense of slasher clichés. For example, at one point a neighbor practically cuts one of the girls’ head off, parodying the odd way people in these movies approach one another (seriously, why does no one ever say “Hi” from a few feet away? Why always with the shoulder grabbing?). Plus, a lot of the dialogue is so random (“I don’t like her, she drinks too much milk!”) that even when there’s no slasher stuff going on, it’s a hoot.
Also, the film is unique (or at least, in the minority) in that there are actually TWO Final Girls. One of them is the one holding the party, who is obviously much nicer and less sexually active than her friends. But also, we have another girl who turned down an invite to the party, who lives next door. Both of them are given equal development time, and they each get a turn at the killer. The killer, by the way, is pretty memorable in his own right. He has no mask or any sort of costume, nor does he have any real reason to go after these girls. He’s silent for most of the film, but in his final scene or two he begins saying nonsense about being in love with the girl(s). And his power drill weapon is about as phallic as you can get in a slasher (at one point, the way he holds it between his legs is so blatantly “symbolic”, they might as well have just given him a dildo to fight with).
The film spawned 3 sequels, but I haven’t seen any of them. None of them are available from Blockbuster Online (I really need Netflix back), but they ARE on DVD. If they are even half as fun as the original, it’ll be worth my effort tracking them down. As long as you are aware right from the start that the film is supposed to be mocking the others of the era, I can’t imagine a slasher fan not having a blast with it. Hell, I even stayed awake for 95% of it, and for a movie at midnight, for ME, that is proof positive that the film knows how to entertain.
What say you?