One part sleaze and one part slasher flick (which probably makes it all sleaze, now that I think about it), The Slumber Party Massacre works hard to tick every box when it comes to 1980s horror. Teenagers, an enraged killer, blood, etc. Instead of filling empty spots with plot, director Amy Holden Jones went with gratuitous nudity. The teenaged boy still lurking in me was thrilled. The mature, objective reviewer in me was also thrilled. When in Rome…
Released in 1982, The Slumber Party Massacre tells everything a viewer needs to know about the plot in its title. There is a slumber party, and a killer looking to massacre everyone at it.
The film stars Michelle Michaels as Trish. She’s an eighteen-year-old kid whose parents are leaving her alone for the weekend. Like all enterprising teenagers, that means it’s time to get up to some shenanigans. She invites her friends Kim, Jackie, and Diane (Debra Deliso, Andree Honore, and Gina Smika) over for a night of Michelobs and Maui Wowie. She tried inviting her neighbor and fellow student, Valerie (Robin Stille), but teenaged stuff happened and Valerie, justifiably, turned down the invite. No worries, though. Living next door to the massacre, Valerie plays a large part in the flick, as does her younger sister, Courtney (Jennifer Meyers).
And what would a slumber party be without a pair of undersexed teenaged boys lurking around and peeping in windows? That responsibility falls to Joseph Alan Johnson and David Milburn, who play Neil and Jeff.
Now that the cast is assembled, enter the crazed killer. He is Russ Thorn (Michael Villella), a mass murderer who just escaped from prison. Thorn doesn’t waste any time, racking up a couple of kills before the sun even sets on the day.
The slumber party begins, the ladies in the cast take off their clothes, and Thorn gets to killing. There isn’t much more to the plot than that. There’s no reason given to Thorn’s actions — no tropes a viewer has to wade through. The ‘why?’ of the film is never explained, and I’m fine with that. More often than not, a film will offer explanations for the inexplicable. It’s not enough that Jason Voorhees kills everyone in sight. There has to be a reason for it. It’s not enough for a gigantic insect to stomp a town flat. There has to be a scientist on hand to explain how radiation or toxic chemicals could make this happen.
We are a curious species that relentlessly pursues the reasons why things occur, and there’s something a little unsettling about a movie that doesn’t provide those explanations. But, movies that do not provide those reasons are closer to real life than those that do, regardless of how outlandish are the actions on screen. Does it really matter why Thorn is ripping his way through co-eds with a power drill? Not really. We viewers came for the blood. And for the breasts, as it turns out.
As for that blood, there wasn’t nearly as much as expected. It looks like a whole bunch of nasty shots were filmed, but in post the juicy bits appear to have been cut. There’s something sanitized about the violence, and it ends up appeasing the censors while leaving the viewer left hanging. The film goes all in on the gratuitous nudity, but pulls back when it comes to blood. That’s not typical of exploitation films.
Still, this was a pretty entertaining horror flick. Jones was a decent storyteller, and she kept things moving along. It’s a decent shitty watch, too. My personal favorite thing about this film is how the girls at the slumber party wear nothing but t-shirts and panties. That sounds creepy, but bear with me. As with all slasher flicks, an entire act is spent with the characters not knowing they are being stalked by a bloodthirsty killer. Yet when the girls at the party finally realize the trouble they’re in, do they take a little time to pull on some pants? No, they do not. Not even when Neil and Jeff arrive on the scene. That is some classic schlock.
I hesitated to include this as a shitty movie, but then I remembered how much screen time was devoted to appealing to our basest instincts, and I came around. The Slumber Party Massacre enters the Watchability Index at #80, between Chrome and Hot Leather and Freejack.