The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Amy Jones

Michele Michaels - Trish Devereaux
Stille - Valerie Bates
Michael Villela - Russ Thorn

Andree Honore - Jackie

Gina Mari - Diane

Debra Deliso - Kim Clark

Jennifer Meyers - Courtney Bates

Joe Johnson - Neil

David Millbern - Jeff

Pamela Roylance - Coach Jana

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 75 Minutes

As a proud member of the male gender, I'm probably not at liberty to discuss the things teenage girls do in their free time. It's not my business if they scratch each other's eyes out over who's hotter: Edward or Jacob. I could care less if they refuse to believe that Justin Beiber is from the Planet Lesbos, who has arrived here to destroy the universe. But I am sure that most teenage girls have hosted or been to a slumber party.

The slumber party - a time where young women can come together and discuss boys, music, their breast sizes, and how much...um..."stuff" they can shove down their throats before choking. And of course, there are those classic pillow fights that don't do any sort of damage to the participants.

However in 1982, Amy Jones and Rita Mae Brown wanted to change the blood amount to these get-togethers by creating and releasing THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, one of the many highlights of the Slasher Boom during the early 1980s. Hot girls, cold pizza, and a killer who uses a power drill as both a weapon and a phallic symbol? My guy friends are gonna be so jelly!

Trish (Michele Michaels) invites four of her basketball playing girlfriends over to her house for a slumber party while her parents go away to who knows where. However, new girl Valerie (Robin Stille) isn't liked by some of the girls, which causes her to decline Trish's invitation and babysit her annoying younger sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers) instead. The other girls decide to have their party, which is interrupted by a couple of horny jocks (Joe Johnson, David Millbern) who want to join in the fun.

What these high schoolers don't know, or even care about, is that some nutjob named Russ Thorn (Michael Villella) has escaped from a mental institution and has decided to follow Trish and her friends. With his trusty power drill in hand, Thorn plans on making up for lost time by penetrating these young ladies. And I don't think a pillow is going to do a damn thing to stop him either...

THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE isn't high art or Oscar-caliber cinema. It is, however, a fun watch due to its simplicity and humor. It's a slasher film through and through - mental asylum escapee killing people with a trademark weapon, hot girls who show their tits and ass, and stupid characters who do dumb things to get them into this horrible situation to begin with.

The screenplay for the film has been the subject of debate for many years due to its tone and intention. Originally, writer Rita Mae Brown was hired to write a parody of a slasher film. Since slashers were considered misogynistic, having a woman write one and play with the standard tropes that comes along with the sub-genre was thought be a good and funny idea. Eventually, the producers felt that Brown's screenplay was so good that it was believed that it could work as a more serious, straightforward slasher film with bits of humor added in to bring in a bigger audience. So THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE comes across as a serious horror film sprinkled with cheesy humor. While this may not please serious fans of the genre, the mix of the two tones does work somewhat in the movie's favor. While this does make you question the actions of most of the characters in terms with deal with a psycho killer, having one of the characters eat a pizza over the delivery man's corpse as if it was no big deal is so odd, that it's actually funny. Plus a lot of the film's moments come across as ironically funny, like the hot telephone worker getting dragged into a van to die while students nearby don't even register that there's something wrong inside the shaky van [which I'm sure inspired Randy Meeks' death scene in SCREAM 2 years later]. And who can forget that classic dialogue where one of the girls states that "It's not how big your mouth is; it's what's in it that counts"? Sometimes it reads itself, folks. I think the humor is what makes THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE sort of charming and still a fan favorite after almost 30 years.

The issue I do have somewhat of a problem with is the intent by Amy Jones and Rita Mae Brown to create a feminist slasher film. While this thought process is very ambitious and would bring something new to the genre, THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE doesn't hold many feminist qualities whatsoever. Does having wimpy male characters qualify? They were borderline homoerotic, which was kind of funny. What about the killer and his obsession of using his power drill as a symbol for his manhood? What about these female characters being filmed in gratuitous ways, lingering on their boobs and butts? I don't have issues with that at all, but it doesn't really ring "feminism" to me. Sure the females fight back against the killer towards the end, but all slasher films do that. Besides, this killer wasn't much of a threat anyway. I'm surprised these women didn't get the upper hand sooner. Wouldn't you expect something like that if this was truly a "feminist" slasher? I think the attempt was there, with the majority of the cast being female and all. But execution wise, the intent was very vague.

And while THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE is a fun film, it's still very generic, cliche, and very lacking in the character development. If you've seen any slasher film, you know what you're gonna get here. The sluttier girls end up dying first. The characters are oblivious to the killer's presence, even though there's a bunch of foreshadowing on newspapers and through radio about his escape. The killer escaped from a mental asylum [HALLOWEEN anyone?], using a drill to represent his manhood [until one of the female characters castrates the drill in half with a machete]. And it has a bunch of fake scares that only non-horror fans would probably jump at. How many times can I see a damn cat jump out of somewhere and still be scared by it? Not a whole lot. And all the characters had no depth to them whatsoever. Some of them seem to have a story that wants to be told, but the screenplay never allows it to surface. The characters still manage to be likeable, even if they are stereotypes. I also liked that they spoke and acted like teenagers, even if the actors were over the age of 25. I think the narrative could have been beefed up a bit to really make the whole situation more effective than it was. But you won't be bored by the film's story, so I can't complain about it all that much when I was entertained for the most part.

Since THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE was done on a pretty low budget, and it shows, the gore effects aren't as good as those we can see in other similar films. Still, there's a lot of blood and violence going on through much of the movie. We get a lot of drill attacks - to the forehead, to the eyes, to the throat, and to the arm. We also have a decapitation, some stabbings, and a hand chopped off by a machete. Some of the kills are also off-screen as well, which I could have felt been better if they were actually on screen. But with the limitations of the budget, I understand.

The direction by Amy Jones is actually pretty well-done. A lot of the shots, like the killer's POV, are taken pretty much from HALLOWEEN and BLACK CHRISTMAS. The editing and composition works for the most part. Some of the shots have style, particularly the one where the killer is about to kill a victim and the camera lowers as he reveals the drill as sort of a phallic symbol to sexualize the situation. Jones also uses some slow motion and constructs cliche, yet effective scare scenarios. What really surprised me is that there is actually some tension and suspense during the film, especially during the High School scene where Brinke Stevens is hiding from the killer. The script doesn't really make you care all that much about these characters, but the direction sure does. I think Jones did a very good job behind the camera.

The acting isn't all that great, but it does enhance the cheesiness and entertainment factor of the film. Michele Michaels does well as Trish. Not my favorite Final Girl ever, but she was competent enough and I was convinced by her bravery and her fear of this maniac. Robin Stille, who unfortunately passed away in 1996 due to suicide, rocked it as Valerie. I wish the film focused more on her than Michaels, to be honest. Michael Villela was okay as Russ, the killer. While I don't think he was intimidating or imposing enough to make a memorable villain, Villela did the best he could with what was given. He was probably the least interesting part of the film for me, especially when his drill was more memorable. Joe Johnson and David Millbern were the comic reliefs as Neil and Jeff. They sort of had a "bromance" going on that made me wonder if they wanted to be part of the slumber party to share in pillow fights rather than see the girls naked. The only one who really annoyed me was Jennifer Meyers as Courtney. She really tested my nerves by playing the stereotypical obnoxious younger sister. I'm not sure if the character was written that way, but Meyers didn't help matters and I wish the killer had murdered her first. Just my opinion.


- Even though she's 18, Trish is still considered a "baby" by her mom. This opinion will stay the same until she hooks up with Hugh Hefner. Then she'll be considered a "great grandbaby" - but with a show on E!.

- A hot telephone worker got murdered in a van near a High School campus. If the killer just wanted to drill her, he could have just called her and asked politely. Some people!

- One of the girls was rattled by a freaked cat locked inside a closet. Ironically, it was R. Kelly who urinated in the litter box.

- Diane calls her boyfriend "Boo Boo". Looks like Yogi Bear is gonna be one less while eating the contents of that picnic basket for the time being.

- Diane's boyfriend got decapitated. Talk about some great head!

- Jackie ate a slice of pizza over the dead pizza man, claiming that "life goes on". The Ninja Turtles want to give this girl a bit of shell shock.

It had been years since I watched THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE and it still manages to be a fun slasher film that's mainly fluff rather than deep. It has everything you would want in one of these films - hot ladies who do show T & A, people getting murdered, and cliche jump scares that breeze by within 75 minutes. The film isn't going to scare anyone. But if you love slasher films, especially from the 1980s, you'll most likely be entertained by this one.

3 Howls Outta 4


  1. I read that Rita Mae Brown got a lot of flack from other feminists over this film. They could not believe that the woman who penned, Ruby Fruit Jungle, would write a script like this. Frankly, I think Brown was a genius, she got paid a handsome sum for her efforts, and the film is loaded with sly humor. My dream is to have her autograph my VHS copy!

    Great review, as always!

    PS, the woman drilling the peephole into the door early in the film is Rita Mae doing a cameo.

  2. These types of movies make me happy. Great review, Fred!

  3. I'm sure Brown did get a lot of criticism. After all, she helped write a film that's considered "beneath" many people. Who is anyone to judge her reasoning for contributing to this movie? I think she wrote a cheesy, entertaining script - even if it wasn't deep. And I had no idea that was her during that cameo! Great bit of info there! Thanks, Pax!

  4. And these films make me happy too, Jenny! Thanks!

  5. Pure priceless fun dorky and corny films like these my heart go beat beat... Great review for a fun classic film...

  6. Good review! I think that, as cliched and distinctly non-feminist as SPM is, it's totally addicting and stands head and shoulders above most early '80s slasher flicks in terms of sheer entertainment value. The severed-limb-heavy finale is one of the most memorable demises for a slasher villain ever!

  7. Thanks! Yeah, he did get it pretty badly at the end, huh? Women can be such teases...


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