Monday, November 30, 2009

The Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Holden Jones, 1982)

The sexualization of the power drill continues unabated in the aggressively unambiguous Slumber Party Massacre, a stalker-friendly slasher flick from director Amy Holden Jones (Maid to Order) and writer/feminist activist Rita Mae Brown. Unique in that the majority of the people working behind the camera are women, this teens-in-peril tale does little to separate itself from the macho heard. Briskly going about his boring business with the efficiency of a man wielding a larger than normal drill, the killer seems to mainly target young women. Sure, he'll drill an unwanted hole in a man, but only if they happen to interfere with his primary goal, which is to penetrate as many young women as humanly possible. The assailant's weapon of choice, the power drill, might have been the film's only feminine touch. Of course, there have been lots of films that feature madmen who slaughter comely women using implements that can be found in any tool shed, garage, basement or hardware store. But I'm sure it's no coincidence that the common power drill is the one item on the self that is the closest to resembling a man's penis. Moreover, the way the attacker held his tool in this movie was quite sexual. Leading one to believe that this film is an accidental critique of the male libido.

Resting it in the vicinity of his denim-covered crotch when he isn't drilling, the murderer–a recently escaped lunatic named Russ Thorn (the brilliant Michael Villella), who killed five women in 1969–thrusts his drill in a fashion that practically screamed sexual dysfunction. Not to mention, misdirected anger, overcompensation, and homicidal madness.

The number of female persons, and male bystanders, who are at risk of becoming the driller killer's next victim is quite large. At the top of the list is an 18 year-old named Trish (Michelle Michaels), a popular girl who has decided to take full advantage of her parents' absence by inviting a bunch of friends over for a party that may or may not involve slumbering. Though I doubt they will get to do either considering the fact that a massacre is about to commence.

Invited out of pity, but ultimately passing on attending the girly soiree, is Trish's classmate and next-door neighbour Valerie "Val" Bates (Robin Stille); she's decided to stay in and watch over her younger sister, Courtney (Jennifer Myers), an impish gal who looked absolutely delicious in a frightfully cute pair of orange short shorts. (Since it's 1982, skimpy shorts are the film's most prominent piece of clothing.) Anyway, as with most parties of this nature, their feminine solidarity is corrupted by the uninvited presence of two horny teenage boys (Joseph Alan Johnson and David Millbern), a nosy neighbour (the kind that murder snails with meat cleavers), and, oh, get this, a sexually frustrated power tool connoisseur.

While the inquisitive, overly helpful neighbour, and the lustful boys are a bit of a nuance, it's the guy lurking in the garage wielding the massive power drill who should be the main focus of the girl's anxiety. I mean, he's already taken out an attractive telephone repairwoman (Jean Vargas) and a book-forgetting senior (Brinke Stevens), so decimating the contents of an entire slumber party doesn't sound all that far-fetched.

The fact that the movie he's stalking in bares a striking resemblance to John Carpenter's Halloween isn't gonna stop him from getting the bore-based satisfaction is desperately needs. Hell, even the music (a synth-based delight by Ralph Jones), the street the film takes place on, and the camera angles were reminiscent of the film that introduced Michael Myers to the world. That being said, the drilling aspect of the film, while vaguely similar to the drilling that went on in Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer, was still a pretty fresh concept as far as cinematic works of art that sport deranged killers misusing appliances go.

The alarming sameness of Michelle Michaels and Robin Stille when it came to their appearance and acting styles caused me to look elsewhere for my object of devotion. The short short-heavy basketball sequence (it was the yellow short shorts vs. the blue short shorts) and the obligatory shower scene (my inner pervert appreciated the lingering temperament of some of the bum shots) were quite illuminating when it came to serving up the delicious girl-bouquet that is on display in this movie. But it wasn't until the ladies were in the locker room getting changed that I laid eyes on my fixation.

Playing Diane with a catty glee, the gorgeous Gina Smika Hunter (credited here as Gina Mari) became my favourite slumber party girl the moment she cruelly dismissed Trish's feeler about inviting Val over to her house. What can I say? I love malicious brunettes who act like they're better than everyone else.

Insensitive, somewhat irrational (she doesn't want to invite Valerie to slumber party because "she drinks too much milk), and boasting a steady boyfriend (a tall, sneaky redhead), Diane pretty much insures that her supple body will be getting poked with a large drill in the not-so distant future. Nevertheless, I chose to throw my creepy gaze in her sexy direction. And, yes, she looked amazing in short shorts.

Just because my "creepy gaze" was centered on Gina, doesn't mean that I failed to notice the leggy tour-de-force that was being secretly orchestrated by Debra Deliso (Dr. Caligari and Iced), a statuesque blonde with an elegant physique. Wait a minute, "secretly orchestrated"?!? Are you kidding me? There was nothing secretive about the way her stunning gams playfully jutted out from the bottom of that no-nonsense U.S.A. basketball jersey, which doubles as a sporty yet chic shirt dress (with a generous slit down the sides for maximum leg appeal). On top of that, I liked the manner in which she screamed. What a lot of people tend to forget is how important the act of screaming is when it comes to films like this, and Debra, it should be said, can wail hysterically with the best of them.

The face of the man who attempted to deliver it may be full of holes, but that doesn't mean the pizza he was delivering has become any less edible since his tragic demise. What I'm trying to say is I found that Andree Honore's decision to eat the pizza the a recently drilled pizza boy was clutching in his dead hands to be strangely adorable. I mean, you gotta love the fact that she basically uses his lifeless corpse as an impromptu picnic table. Classic.



  1. Thanks for taking me down memory lane. This is a movie that I loved watching with my buddies when I was a teenager. I must have seen this thing countless times.

  2. One of the best slasher flicks of the early 80s. My wife and I watch this one every year on Halloween (not quite sure how that tradition got started).