Sunday, May 27, 2012

Slumber Party Massacre III (Sally Mattison, 1990)

I don't have to, but I'm going to anyway, admit that, I felt a weird mix of enthusiasm and fatigue as I sat down to watch Slumber Party Massacre III, the third, and, probably (hey, you never know with these things), final chapter in the totally awesome trilogy that deftly combines unorthodox drill usage (they're designed to drill holes in inanimate objects, not living people) with a hyperkentic brand of girlish frivolity. The enthusiasm, well, I felt that because, let's be frank, I was about to watch the third Slumber Party Massacre movie (you could say that I cherish these movies the same way I do an unexpected tug-job or a cold can of lukewarm Fresca on an overcast day). And Fatigue, well, because, while still being frank, I was about to watch the third Slumber Party Massacre movie. Don't get me wrong, I love to watch scantily clad young women (especially one's being played by actresses named Brandi and Keely), and their clueless male suitors, getting stabbed with drills. It's  just that I was worried for a second there that my tolerance for watching coiled metal tear its way through human flesh was beginning to wane. Fear not boring fans, for director/singer-songwriter Sally Mattison and screenwriter Catherine Cyran are here to reinvigorate your lust for spunky gals in nighties and the impotent men who desperately want to penetrate them. Did they succeed? Well, let me see: The film opens, after a brief yet touching photo montage of the girls in high school, with a shot of a bikini-clad Keely Christian and Brandi Burkett languishing on a sandy beach while their friends play volleyball. You heard me. The wonderfully compact Keely Christian and the lithesome Brandi Burkett, a double shot of late '80s/early '90s gorgeousness, are sheathed in bikinis. So, like, yeah, I think they succeeded, all right.
The sight of Keely and Brandi relaxing will no doubt disrupt your intricate crotch circuits, as their approach to lying motionless in fabric-challenged swimwear has an artistry about it that makes all other previous attempts at beach-based titillation seem laughable, sad and otiose. And they didn't just lie there, either. Uh-uh. Every now and then they would pop their adorable heads up to survey the scene, gossip about their friends, keep tabs on creepy loners in all black (Yan Birch), and, of course, cast aside the feeble advances of dorky dudes sporting bowl cuts during an era when hair gel grew on trees.
You could say the reason the opening scene is so sexy in terms of untoward hardness and dewy wetness was because it was written and directed by women. Let me explain. A man is chiefly concerned about the well-being of his own cock. I mean, he does not care what other cocks are up to, his main concern is his cock, and his cock alone. A woman, on the other hand, wants to satisfy the needs and wants of every cock. This cock-pleasing inclusiveness is reflected in the way they photograph the women who were lucky enough to snag a role in Slumber Party Massacre III, as a lot of care seems to have gone into how each actress is portrayed on film. While the male eye tends to focus its attention on a specific part of the female anatomy, the female eye seems to take the time to celebrate every square inch. Call me, oh, I don't know, completely meshugana, but that's what I took from the opening scene.
There's this other theory swimming around inside my brain that involves volleyball and how the ball's trajectory through the air predicted the future of the individuals who dared to propel its motion, but I think I'll save that for another movie; hopefully one that involves beach volleyball and fate.
The reason I haven't mentioned "the driller killer" yet has nothing to do with my off-kilter obsession with pulsating organs, but because they're irrelevant as far as part three goes. Oh, sure, there's a killer, and he does use a drill. However, the third chapter seems completely separate from the other films. You know you're in a different universe when a realty sign is used to impale some poor sod instead of a drill.
Poor sods murdered with signs, notwithstanding, it's not that different a universe. Check this out: Eight, count em' eight people are poked violently with a drills in this movie. In other words, it's a driller killer flick, just not the kind we're used to. For starters, we don't know who the drill-wielding maniac is for a large chunk of Slumber Party Massacre III, as his identity, unlike in the first two films, is shrouded in mystery. The only problem with this scenario is that we're inundated with a cavalcade of bogus suspects. I don't want to brag, and as those who have seen the film can attest, it's nothing to brag about it, but I guessed who the killer was the second he appeared on-screen. I don't know, there was something off about the way he held a volleyball. Oh, so you're saying he was at the volleyball game? No, what I'm saying is that he holds balls funny.
At first, I thought that this entry in the drilling after dark saga was gonna drop the whole sexual metaphor aspect that fueled the first two chapters of the trilogy; you know, the whole thing about the drill being a penis substitute. Well, not only does Slumber Party Massacre III continue that tradition, it takes it one step further by making the killer impotent. Yeah, that's right. The killer can't get an erection. And what does a psychopath usually do when he can't get it up? Well, the first thing he should do is perform mild-mannered cunnilingus on the person he is not fucking with his limp penis, as it's the correct course of action, and, not to mention, the gentlemanly thing to do. But that's neither here nor over there (have you ever noticed that "over there" is always a nicer place than "here"?) Your torso being jabbed with big ass drill is what normally happens after an attempt to unfurl an erection is met with failure.
There's a darkness surrounding the killer's impotency. A darkness, you say? Yeah, apparently the killer had some issues (the unsavoury variety) in his past. The kind that make me a tad uncomfortable about the easy-breezy tone I'm using. But let's just say, I understand his impotency. However, the drilling of women who are just trying to dance to rock music, eat pizza, and frolic in their underwear was totally unacceptable. I don't care what happened in your past, that's no excuse for drilling people, especially one's who employ scrunchies so winningly.
Planning a slumber party can be stressful, but you wouldn't know it by looking at Jackie (Keely Christian), a straight-laced gal looking for PG-rated kicks in an X-rated world. Germinating in her mind while she watched her peers play volleyball on the beach (you can literally see her brain calculating all the different slumber variables), Jackie plans to take advantage of her parents absence by inviting her female friends over for a party that may or may not involve slumbering. Whether she wants her kinda boyfriend, Frank (David Lawrence), I don't think they've established what the status of their relationship is yet, to show up uninvited isn't clear. What I do know is that she wouldn't mind if he did.
When Keely Christian, Brandi Burkett, Hope Marie Carlton, Maria Ford, Maria Claire, and Lulu Wilson burst into the living room giggling and carrying on like bunch of coked up valley girls my mind nearly exploded. Not because I was reveling in the girly stew simmering before my very eyes, but because I had no idea how I was gonna keep track of everyone.
Luckily for me, but not so lucky for her, one of their friends is drilled before the party has even started. And, get this, she wore a scrunchie in her hair! Yeah, so? Lot's of girls wore scrunchies in 1990. It's not that, just imagine the confusion she would have caused. You see, Hope Marie Carlton (Hard Ticket to Hawaii) wore a scrunchie as well, and I don't think I could have handled a slumber party that featured two attendees sporting scrunchies that were affixed to their heads in the same unorthodox manner. Unorthodox what? It's just a fucking scrunchie! Oh, you're so naive. While most scrunchies are tied at the back of the head, Hope Marie and Sarah (Devon Jenkin), the chick drilled to death in her car (she was supposed to bring the snacks), both have theirs tied near the top of their heads, creating a sort of waterfall effect.
Since Hope Marie Carlton's Janine wasn't at the beach volleyball game (a match where Devon Jenkin scrunchied it up like a scrunchie-fied fiend), it only made sense that she show up at the party brandishing a scrunchie in order to fill the scrunchie void that must have briefly occurred after Sarah's untimely death in a back alley in Venice, California.
If you thought the creepy guy in black who stared at Keely Christian (black bikini) and Brandi Burkett (pink bikini) as talked about their diaphragms at the beach was unpleasant, wait until you get a load of Morgan (Michael Harris), the shifty fella who lives across the street from Keely's Jackie Cassidy, a young woman who's taking care of her parents house (which is on the market) while they're away on, oh, let's say, vacation. Reminding me of Taylor Negron mixed with a dash of Fisher Stevens, Morgan's odd behaviour throws Jackie off balance. After he finally leaves (he's thinking about buying her parents' house), Jackie can start getting ready for the slumber party.
The first thing she does after Morgan leaves is take a shower. Yeah, baby. Scrub those knees, Keely Christian. You're a dirty girl, aren't you? Aren't you? Make sure to wash your... What are you doing? Um, sorry about that. Now, where was I?  Oh yeah. The girls show up at Jackie's door itching to get their slumber on. It just dawned on me: Aren't these girls a little old to be throwing a slumber party. I mean, Maria Ford looks like twenty-five year-old in a stripper wig; which is apropos since she was the lead in the great Stripped to Kill II: Live Girls from the previous year. Anyway, after drinking beer (the cans are labeled "Beer" in honour of Repo Man), white girl dancing to new wave, stripping in front of the fireplace to said new wave, and  carrying on like a bunch of catty brats, the girls change into their sleepwear and await for the driller killer to arrive. Well, they're actually waiting for a pizza to arrive, but you know what I mean. 
Costume designer, and lead scrunchie wrangler, Sandra Araya Jensen was given the daunting task of making each actress stand out from one another during the transition from street clothes to night clothes. And from where I was sitting, she did a pretty good job. Since the character of Susie (Maria Claire, Society) has body issues, it made sense for Sandra to put her in a pair of bulky pajamas. When it came time for Maria (Maria Ford) and Juliette (Lulu Wilson) to change into more slumber appropriate attire, the opposite track was taken, as they were given slinky nighties that shimmered in a way that would make David Coverdale nod approvingly. The alluringly goofy Janine (Hope Marie Carlton) wore a lavender nightie, which made sense since her character was passive yet sweet. As for Jackie (Keely Christian) and Diane (Brandi Burkett), a more practical garment was needed. As not only do they need to appear sexy, they should allow to be able to smash lamps on the heads of drill-wielding yuppies without getting entangled in sleepwear that is overly complicated. 
If you were to judge Slumber Party Massacre III based solely on the two lead's ability to remain spry while running in sleepwear, you would have to declare it an unequivocal success. The way Brandi Burkett, a leggy goddess if I ever saw one, was able to run from one room to another was mind-boggling. Her polka dot boxer shorts, her mid-riff revealing gray tank-top, her black ankle socks clinging to her sweaty ankles for dear life, Brandi Burkett is definitely my favourite slumber party attendee. What can I say? I love a girl who knows how to swing a polo mallet in anger, and, of course, how to make a pair of polka dot boxer shorts look chic under duress. It's too bad the film itself lets Brandi B. down in the end. Those who have seen the film will know what I mean; it's outrageous. 

The greatest duo in film history: Brandi Burkett and Keely Christian. Best friends forever! Peace out.

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  1. That would be funny of Maria didn't have any money and paid the pizza boy with her wig.

    There's a documentary called "Some Nudity Required" where Sally Mattison talks about hating slasher movies but she agreed to direct this because it was an opportunity working for Corman. I think she also says the genre is mysoginistic, and quotes Clover's "Men, Women, and Chainsaws" I believe. She never does explain the deal with that wig though.

  2. The actual manner in which that particular pizza is paid for is quite unorthodox. Now, I'm tempted to tell you the details, but I'm not sure if you have seen the film or not. Either way, I agree that it would have been somewhat amusing had Maria Ford used her wig as currency in that situation.

    The director, Sally Mattison, mentions her reservations about working in the slasher genre on the DVD commentary track. And, yes, I listened to the commentary track for slumber Party Massacre III. Oh, and there's no explanation for the wig given, but it is mentioned several times.

  3. Hell, I don't remember, and I just re-read my review of the movie, hoping that I mentioned it, but I didn't. I'll have to re-watch the movie at some point.

    Also, I had no idea there was a commentary track available. I have it on VHS, and VHS is snooty enough to think that it doesn't need commentary tracks.

  4. Oh, that's right, you reviewed SPM3. Now I feel like a turd. But then again, your comment pertaining to the manner in which Maria Ford pay for her pizza implied otherwise. ;)

    Spoilers ahead! The guy holding the pizza box paid for the pizza (he intercepted the pizza delivering girl before she could knock at the door). It was his clever way of crashing the party. End of spoilers.

    The DVD also has interviews with some of the cast as well. Including Brandi Burkett!

    Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that you mention Stripteaser and Naked Obsession in your SPM3 review. I don't know if they're any good or not. But I gotta say, I love them titles.