Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Slumber Party Massacre Collection

In the mood for some classic slasher sleaze, I settled in for a Slumber Party Massacre Marathon, and here are my thoughts on the "Driller Killer Thrillers":

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

This is really a great classic slasher film. I liked it the first time I saw it, and I think I appreciated it even more this time. Because of the subject matter (read: it plays up the sex side of the sex and violence equation), this one is easily written off as not a serious title among slasher canon. But while it doesn't rise quite to the cinematic level of Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm St, and the original Friday The 13th, it does take itself seriously (but not too seriously), and it's a very entertaining movie that I am not ashamed to mention in the same breath as those other esteemed classics.

Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

SPM2 is really a terrible movie. But it has this crazy style to it, that you can't help cracking a grin, despite how bad it is. The Driller Killer returns in the tormented nightmares of one of the survivors of the first Slumber Party Massacre. For some reason, the killer is now a guitar-shredding rockabilly rebel freak complete with black leather fringe and greased sideburns. He wields a ridiculously spiky red guitar with a huge drill attached to its head, and quips rock n roll themed one liners while killing without conscience - yet plenty of style. No explanation whatsoever is given as to how he manages to cross the barrier from dream world to real world.

The movie doesn't take itself seriously - and neither should you - and is very conscious of its genre (the two police officers' names are a blatant homage to Freddie and Jason). The balance is (unfortunately) tipped back over to the violence side of things, though sexual innuendo remains a central theme. But this time around, the whole thirty-year-olds-playing-teenagers is actually starting to get embarrassing (and now we're supposed to believe Courtney was only twelve in the first movie!?). As I said, it's really a terrible movie, but the killer is so ridiculous you have to give him a nod. Anyway his stylized drill-guitar could be just the perfect icon for this blog!

Slumber Party Massacre III (1990)

It's interesting watching these three movies, because it's like watching the evolution of the slasher flick through three "generations". The first one is the pioneer, plays things straight, and manages to feel fresh. The second one is self-aware, just for fun's sake, and doesn't take itself seriously. And then the third one swings back toward being a serious horror movie, but by this time, the premise is laid bare, and the formula has been worked through so many times that it begins to become tired and drawn out. SPM3 isn't as good as the first one, but it manages to be a much better film than the second one. It has its share of flaws, but the entire final sequence is pretty exciting, and genuinely horrifying. And the movie overall has enough sex and nudity to possibly balance out the violence (now I'm wondering how much of the perceived imbalance in most other films of this type is because of the ratings board censoring the sex and nudity more than the violence - it wouldn't surprise me).

I'm not convinced by the villain in this one, though. There are so many good, legitimate reasons to be antisocial and lash out against society and your peers, I fail to be impressed by the stereotypical fantasy depiction of the traumatized psychopath. Not to say that that angle is completely off the mark, but I feel like it could be played a whole lot more effectively with a little more care and realism. Alternatively, I suppose we're too often afraid to consider the possibility that a rational, intelligent man with a sane mind could calmly reach the conclusion that killing people is a good idea. (Talk about horror).

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