Slumber Party Massacre

Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
New Concorde
Cast: Michele Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Bonus Trailer

Long before there was ’Scream’, there was ’The Slumber Party Massacre’, a film which both followed the conventions of the slasher film, yet spoofed them as well. Also, this film has the distinction of being made by women, having been directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by noted mystery author Rita Mae Brown. The film is almost devoid of plot (and what little it does have was stolen from ’Halloween’), but long on suspense and fun. In the film, a group of high-school girls decide to have a slumber party. Unbeknownst to them, a psycho-killer (Michael Villella) is on the loose and picks off the girls and their boyfriends one by one. The only chance that the girls have for help is Valerie (Robin Stille), the neighbor who they snubbed at school.

The film is well-directed by Jones, who gets a maximum amount of tension out of several scenes. ’The Slumber Party Massacre’ has a liberal amount of gore and a fair amount of on-screen violence. The killer’s weapon of choice is a power drill and he’s not afraid to use it. Despite the film’s brevity, there is still some heavy padding and some fast-forwarding may be required. But, the film does deliver in the end. Jones and Brown are well aware of the genre conventions — gratuitous nudity, gore, females as victims — and they skewer these with zest. The obvious T&A shots are hilarious and the symbolism of the killer’s phallic drill, and his loss of power once it’s gone, show that there was some thought put into the film. ’The Slumber Party Massacre’ certainly isn’t highbrow entertainment, but it’s fun and a great example of an 80’s independent horror film.

The DVD of ’The Slumber Party Massacre’ presents the film in a non-anamorphic widescreen, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1, despite the fact that the press releases stated that the film was to be full-frame. The image is clear, but the digital transfer reveals many defects in the source material, such as scratches and white spots. The opening daylight scenes appear very grainy, but this grain is less noticable during the nighttime shots, which constitute the bulk of the film. Once these nighttime shots begin, the picture improves, giving us an image that is miles ahead of my old worn out VHS copy.

The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital Mono track, which is adequate allowing the dialogue to be clearly heard and the cheesy 80’s synthesizer score to be enjoyed. The DVD features a series of trailers for the ’Massacre’ series as well as selected talent bios.