The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

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The Slumber Party Massacre is not just a low-budget 80’s teen slasher movie, it is the low-budget 80’s teen slasher film. During the 1980’s, The Slumber Party Massacre was famous for being a staple of the VHS horror circuits, and over the years it has grown a considerable cult following. Even to this day, whenever someone tries to parody a slasher movie, they always talk about “a group of girls who have a slumber party whilst being stalked by a killer”, that’s just one example of how influential The Slumber Party Massacre was on popular media in the 80’s, and how much of a cult icon The Slumber Party Massacre is with latter day 80’s retro fans.

The Slumber Party Massacre has quite an interesting history behind it. The film was originally written by famous feminist author Rita Mae Brown as a parody of the ‘slasher’ genre of cinema, albeit with a humorous, feminist twist towards the ‘misogynistic’ stalk and slash films such as: My Bloody Valentine, Terror Train, and Rosemary’s Killer. However, the original script was ‘re-purposed’ as a serious horror film when it got into the hands of film producers, a move that went against Rita Mae Brown’s wishes. As a result, The Slumber Party Massacre is another victim of the ‘Paint-by-numbers” slasher formula, and in my opinion, a film that has a lot of wasted potential. Occasionally, there may be a satirical scene, blatant anti-misogynist symbolism, or a sequence that could be funny, but it’s ruined by how serious the film tries to take itself. The Slumber Party Massacre feels like it could have been a funny, gory slice of horror comedy, but it’s ruined by long, unfunny sequences of uninteresting ‘teen’ antics, or at least what ‘teen’ antics are witnessed to be through the eyes of oblivious film producers.

The writing, however, isn’t my biggest problem with The Slumber Party Massacre. My biggest problem is how dull the film was to sit through. The Slumber Party Massacre may be short – 74 minutes – but it spends an ungodly amount of that time focusing on characters that aren’t well developed, well written, or interesting. I wanted the film to focus more on the struggle between the vulnerable, young women being trapped in a house with a drill wielding lunatic and how they plan to defeat them. Instead, I was given clip after clip of uninteresting sequences that try, and fail, to develop the character’s bland personalities, or I was given filler scenes that just go nowhere, do nothing, and add nothing to the story. Throughout watching The Slumber Party Massacre, I kept zoning out because there wasn’t enough happening onscreen – plot-wise, character-wise or gore-wise – to keep me invested in the film.

Personally, I was disappointed with The Slumber Party Massacre. After knowing about how influential this film was on horror history I expected something much better than what I witnessed. In my opinion, The Slumber Party Massacre is a very dated film with very little redeeming values. There have been better slasher movies before and after The Slumber Party Massacre was released: The Mutilator is a much better slasher parody film, and The House On Sorority Row is a much better feminist horror film (or The Woman if one would like a more up to date feminist film). In conclusion, The Slumber Party Massacre is a curio of 80’s VHS culture, but there are much better films that exist out in the world of slasher cinema.

What does make me curious, however, is what The Slumber Party Massacre could have been if Rita Mae Brown’s original parody script was used instead of the re-purposed version…I guess some things I’ll never know.

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