Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Slumber Party Massacre - Review - @BrandonCSites / #RogerCorman / #Horror

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) *** 
D: Amy Holden Jones 
C: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella, Pamela Roylance, Brinke Stevens, Jennifer Meyers 
P: A recently escaped mental patient with a drill crashes the slumber party of some high school girls.

The Slumber Party Massacre is one of those films that's a lot smarter then people give credit for as the film toys around with various slasher film conventions. Throughout, we watch as the main characters remain completey oblivious to the danger surrounding them. In the opening scenes of the film, the main female character gets a newspaper warning of an escaped maniac in big bold letters. Of course, she doesn't pay attention to it. Then there are warnings on the radio of an escaped maniac. Of course, she changes the station. Reports of escaped maniacs would put a damper on her fun. Yet, she finds enough time to get undressed and to stare at her breasts in a mirror. No slasher film would be complete without some perfectly gratuitous nudity. This is all part of the film's humor.

During the film's school scenes, a character played by Brinke Stevens gets naked, takes a shower, gets dressed and heads for home. Realizing she forgot a book that she needs to study for a test on MONDAY, she heads back into the school only to fall victim to a killer with a memorable choice of weapon, a drill that is supposed to represent something phallic. If you're not fully aware of the joke, I will spell it out for you. Very rarely do high school teachers schedule a test on Monday (at least when I went to school). So therefore there was no real reason why Stevens' character needed to head back into the school. The film is commenting on how slashers toss aside logic in order to kill off characters. This same character (played by Stevens) pretty much gets killed off after taking a shower and getting dressed. This vignette is supposed to serve as commentary on how slashers treat their characters as disposable after they have served a function that is in service of the film.

Another one of my favorite running jokes throughout the film is the casting of Jennifer Meyers in the role of 12 year old Courtney BATES. It's obvious that Meyers hasn't been 12 years old in quite some time! What gives The Slumber Party Massacre that extra zing is how the film's cast doesn't seem to be in on the joke and as such, they play the material completely straight which makes the film's humor even funnier!

On the technical side of things, director Amy Holden Jones keeps things moving along nicely. She gets to show off some technical proficiency with some nifty camera angles and a well staged chase sequence through the halls of an empty school. Another element I appreciate is how the film treats the film's various teenage girls like teenage girls. They play basketball, flirt with the boys, gossip, back stab the new girl, smoke weed, drink when their parents are away, sneak away to have sex and do all kinds of stupid stuff. The characters don't feel artificial. The girls presented feel like genuine teenage girls that might live next door to you & I.

The Slumber Party Massacre will satisfy genre enthusiast looking for popcorn entertainment, but will also satisfy those looking for a little something more with their slasher films. For those that look a little closer, The Slumber Party Massacre is richly detailed, well observed and really has something to say. [R] 77 mins.

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