JUNE 27, 2011
Even though I was bored for half of the running time, I suspect Slumber Party Massacre II is a movie designed for big crowd/theatrical viewing, not by yourself at home. I laughed and shouted “YES” on a few occasions, but I am willing to bet that if I was at the New Bev or whatever, I’d be laughing throughout and cheering at the movie’s rampant ridiculousness far more often. I mean, Christ, the killer has a drill on his guitar, and he actually stops and SINGS in between two of the kills (also most of his dialogue consists of song lyrics). This movie cannot be contained on a television screen!
But it's also one that takes forever to start killing people. The movie is only 75 minutes long but it’s not until around the 50 minute mark or so that we have our first real kill. Until then, all (brief) action comes courtesy of our heroine Courtney (the young sister from the first film, albeit played by a different actress here) “seeing things”, which I guess are premonitions of what is eventually to come. She also has some flashbacks to the first film, nearly all of which she wasn’t present for because then it would be even more obvious that it’s a new actress (Wings goddess Crystal Bernard, for the record). Her older sister Valerie also returns (also a new actress), but doesn’t appear much because she has gone crazy due to the previous Massacre and is now locked in a mental institute. Granted, the change of actresses hurts a bit (especially when you consider the actress who originally played Valerie killed herself due to her stalled career – according to the commentary track on SPM2, they didn’t even bother TRYING to get her to come back to play the role she originated), but I was actually kind of surprised that the sequel had this much of a connection to the original.
Especially when you consider that the only thing I knew about the movie was that it was a new killer and was a borderline musical. Since the tone was totally different I just assumed it was an unrelated ripoff that they slapped the title on after production had completed, so this tie was a nice surprise. And it makes the change in killer even more of a ballsy move – the movie was released in 1987, when Freddy was reviving the “horror hero” genre, so for them to create a new killer instead of bringing back Russ Thorn wasn’t probably the best move financially, but I appreciate the attempt at doing something new.
Seeing the first film isn’t a necessity, however. This one brings you up to speed and again, the change in tone/actress would probably be less of a distraction to newcomers. Newbies can enjoy the movie’s wacky musical numbers (our protagonists are the members of a fairly decent 80s girl band), and be less annoyed by the horny male characters, who are EXACT COPIES of the guys in the original, complete with a window watching scene. Once was enough with this particular subplot, though I like that one of them was wholly enraptured by a dirty novel – there are four hot girls nearby, prone to naked pillow fights and what not, but he sits there and READS bland descriptions of sexual activity in a yellowed paperback. OK, dude.
And while he may not be as creepy/hilarious as Thorn, The Driller-Killer is a wonderfully stupid/awesome killer. He looks like a slightly gothed out reject from an amateur production of Grease, and you gotta love that they bring back the drill motif and combine it (however illogical it may be) with his guitar. I just wish they had a drill fight at the end; the movie inexplicably ditches the house setting and has our last two girls run into a construction site, which I thought only existed to set up such a scenario (or at least some sort of power tool clash), but she just burns him. Way to somehow make me scoff at a man being immolated, movie.
He’s not the only weird thing about the movie. The girls have particularly odd diets, such as when they make a feast out of corn dogs and champagne (together at last, I guess?), and one of Courtney’s visions inexplicably involves her friend growing this weird tumor on the side of her face which then explodes pus all over her. There’s also a lengthy sing-along in a car in the first few minutes, which would have been OK if the song wasn’t basically the same two lyrics over and over. And part of the plot involves the girls going to one of their father’s brand new condo for the weekend, but they totally trash the place (one just pours champagne all over the floor), so wouldn’t it have made more sense to say it was a place they were getting rid of and thus didn’t care what condition they left it in?
As the original, the film was directed by a female, which is incredibly rare for a slasher. Deborah Brock took over from Amy Jones, and also wrote the script, a necessity since Roger Corman hired her to direct the film in a hurry because he already sold it overseas based on the title. Thus it lacks the original’s alluring schizo charm (as it was written as a parody but filmed straight, or vice versa depending on who you talk to), because it’s a singular vision, but at least it’s a little more obvious that you’re not supposed to be taking it seriously. But the fact that all of the males are either morons or murderers is kind of off-putting; it’s not like the male written/directed slasher films make all of their females sluts and idiots. Would it have killed her to make ONE relatively normal guy? Even the protagonist’s boyfriend is kind of creepy, though that could be due to the strange “looking directly into camera” shots that were obviously an influence on (fellow Corman protégé) Jonathan Demme for Silence Of The Lambs.
Brock provides a commentary along with one of the producers and the fan site guy who was on the first one. It’s not a particularly good track; there are too many long gaps of silence and the moderator’s attempts at getting them to discuss some of the production’s more curious aspects (such as the actress replacement) result in one word answers more often than not. The few good tidbits have already been transcribed into IMDb trivia, so unless this is your favorite movie I’d say skip it. There’s a collection of interviews (on the other disc with SPM1) that’s a far better use of your time, though like with the first film there are a ton of absentees; I can see why Crystal Bernard wouldn’t want to bother, but no Atanas Ilitch? They should have spared no expense and moved heaven and earth to find him!
What say you?
P.S. Part 3 is on this disc too, so look for my review of that in the next couple days!