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Featured DVD Review: The Slumber Party Massacre Collection

October 2nd, 2010

The Slumber Party Massacre Collection - Buy from Amazon

The complete Slumber Party Massacre trilogy is coming out this week on a two-disc DVD. The first Slumber Party Massacre film is one of the more famous of the B-movie Halloween / Friday the 13th rip-offs to come out in the 1980s, and there were hundreds of them, so the competition was huge and just standing out was a pretty sizable accomplishment. However, tastes change and can a film so firmly from the 1980s still find a receptive audience now?

The Slumber Party Massacre

The movie opens with the audience learning that Russ Thorn, notorious killer of five people, has escaped and is on the loose.

Meanwhile, Trish's parents are leaving town for the weekend, so she decides to invite several members of her high school basketball team over for a slumber party. She wants to invite the new girl, Valerie, after all, they are teammates and Valerie just moved into the house right next door. However, she is really good at basketball and that has caused some tension with her teammates. Valerie overhears the girls discuss whether or not to invite her, and how not everyone wants her there, so when they finally do invite her, she turns them down to save face and decides to spend the evening with her younger sister, Courtney.

While not everyone they invite can come, the girls do have some uninvited guests, a couple of boys, who decided to play a prank on the girls and as punishment, get invited to stay with them.

But as we've been reminded repeatedly, Russ Thorn is on the loose and it is only a matter of time before he turns his attention to the girls.

The Slumber Party Massacre is absolutely a "Blood and Boobs" movie, with one or two advantages over most of the competitors. Firstly, it knows what it is and makes sure it delivers on it's promise. Hell, we see both blood and boobs within the first six minutes of the movie. Secondly, it doesn't take itself seriously. It's about 50% rip-off of Halloween and about 50% spoof. ... Okay, make that 60% rip-off.

On the other hand, some of the acting isn't up to par, and par's pretty low for these movies. Any time there's an attempt at character development, or dialogue in general, the movie tends to drag. Fortunately, there's not a lot of either.

The Extras

The extras on the first disc include an audio commentary track with the director, Amy Holden Jones; the actor who played Russ Thorn, Michael Villella; the actress that played Kimberly Clarke, Debra Deliso; and finally a moderator, Tony Brown. There's quite a lot of information given in the track, while the participants don't treat the film with more reverence than it deserves. There is also a retrospective on the franchise called Sleepless Nights that run just a hair over an hour long. There's an impressive amount of information given here on all three films.

The Verdict

The Slumber Party Massacre is so over-the-top and gratuitous in its nudity and violence that fans of the genre can't help but be entertained. It's not a good movie, but it is a good B-movie, which is what you expect from Roger Corman.

The Slumber Party Massacre II

Courtney, the younger sister of the new girl from the first movie, has grown up and is now played by Crystal Bernard. Despite the events of the first film, she's a well-adjusted young lady, mostly. She still has nightmares of the Russ Thorn murders, but that's to be expected. She is also part of an all girl band with her friends, Sheila, Sally and Amy. They going off for the weekend to a condo Sheila's dad just bought, to practice for a dance, and to celebrate her birthday. Courtney has to convince her mom that she will be okay there. Yeah, it's off in the desert and surrounded by nothing but unfinished condos, but she'll be there with friends.

When she gets there, it's just her, her three friends, her new boyfriend Matt, and a couple other partycrashers... oh yeah, and some psycho killer with a massive drill at the end of his guitar. ... yes, guitar. Did I mention the movie is a musical?

This is one weird movie. They mention in the audio commentary track that this film was seen by the filmmakers as a satire of Teenage Slashers and not a straight Teenage Slasher. However, it's not so much satire, as it is just plain weird. It also moves really slowly for the genre. It is only 75 minutes long, including credits, but the killer doesn't show up till 30 minutes in, and doesn't start killing till 50 minutes in. Granted, that does mean the killings come fast and furious for the final 20 minutes or so. But by then it is too late and those expecting wall-to-wall blood and boobs will be disappointed, especially those expecting the latter. (Crystal Bernard is the daughter of a Baptist minister, so you can understand why she wouldn't want to do nudity, while Kimberly McArthur (Amy) was a former Playboy model and wanted to leave that part of her career behind.)

There are some strong parts to the film, including the music, which was better than expected. The psuedo-twist at the end could have been a worthwhile plot twist, had the rest of the movie been more successful. Finally, the killer's drill / guitar looks cool. Note: I said cool, not scary. Drills are not a practical weapon to begin with; in fact, it would probably be easier to kill someone with a real guitar. Blunt force trauma to the head wouldn't be as stylish, on the other hand.

The Extras

Tony Brown returns to moderate another audio commentary track, this time joined by Deborah Brock, the writer / director; Don Daniel, producer; Beverly Grey, story editor; and Juliette Cummins, the actress who played Sheila. It's a good track that will likely hold your attention more than the movie itself does.

The Verdict

The Slumber Party Massacre was a low expectations "Blood and Boobs" movie, and by removing the Boobs, mostly, and taking too long to get to the Blood, it lessens its only two selling points.

The Slumber Party Massacre III

Enough with the musical numbers... This time around a group of girls go to the beach to play volleyball and have a slumber party that night. A trio of guys decide to play a prank on them, but then some weirdo from the beach starts hanging around outside. And then people start dying.

At this point, this film is practically a remake. The plot is more or less inconsequential (although there is the nearly mandatory misdirect about the real identity of the killer, but even that is so obvious it is pointless). Instead, the movie is all about the kills. They even drop the black humor of the first film and include some rather disturbing scenes that don't fit with the overall tone of the franchise. When you have humor, the nudity doesn't feel as creepy as it does here.

On the other hand, thumbs up for Maria Ford. And if you are a fan of big 80s hair, you will be in heaven here.

The Extras

For the third time Tony Brown moderates the audio commentary track, this time joined by Sally Mattison, the director; Brandi Burkett, the actress that played Diane; Hope Marie Carlton, the actress that played Janine; and Beverly Grey, story editor. Lots of information and good energy make this track easier to get through than the movie itself.

The Verdict

By this time the franchise had played itself out and The Slumber Party Massacre III was practically a remake not a sequel.

The Final Verdict

The Slumber Party Massacre Collection is three films for the price of one. Extras include and audio commentary track and a 20-minute retrospective on each film, which is much better than expected. However, unless you are a fan of the low-expectations "Blood and Boobs" genre of horror, they are not worth checking out. Even then, only the first one is truly successful in that genre. Fans of the franchise, on the other hand, will certainly want to pick up this 2-disc set ASAP.

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