Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre. Psycho Drive-in is joining in by sharing articles – some classic, some new – celebrating the greatest women in the genre! While most horror films feature strong female characters, it’s rare to find films that are written, directed, and produced by women. In my feminist horror column, The Final Girl, I have reviewed dozens of films about the heroic acts taken on by fictional female characters. Yet all these films, Scream (1996), Halloween (1978), Carrie (1978), were written by men, for men. As men make up most of the horror audience, many films are tailored to the male gaze. It’s just as important to praise real women in horror in addition to the fictional ones. For Women in Horror Month (WiHM), I couldn’t think of a greater example of a female-driven film than The Slumber Party Massacre (1982). This slasher follows the murders of a drill-wielding serial killer, directed by Amy Holden Jones (Mystic Pizza) and written by Rita Mae Brown (Tales from the Crypt). When I say I couldn’t think of a greater film to review for WiHM, I mean I had no idea what I was going to write about this month. I’ve exhausted Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm St.) and Kevin Williamson’s films (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer), along with a slew of other slashers since the 1970’s. It wasn’t until I sat down with horror filmmaker, Chris Bickel, that I got the idea for this review. I had seen the title, The Slumber Party Massacre, countless times but it seemed to blend in with other massacres, so I passed it by. After a passionate recommendation from Chris, I sat down to watch Slumber on YouTube, the only place it is streaming. Five minutes into the film, I knew it was going to be amazing. This movie’s got that campy 80’s feel, brutal violence, innovate kills, and lots of nudity. I give every horror movie my eight-minute test and Slumber passed it with flying colors. My test for any horror film is that there needs to be a brutal death, nudity, comedy, and a killer within eight minutes of a film. This test has helped me rule out such horrible films as Annabelle (2014) and most Sharknado movies. Annabelle goes a shocking 40 minutes without a death or so much as a threat. It’s the kind of film that’s only scary if awkward silences and complete lack of plot are your two greatest fears. The opening scene to Slumber blew me away. Slumber premiered on November 12, 1982, one month after I was born. The 1980’s were a great time for slashers with campy special effects and liberal ratings. Before the MPAA gutted horror films and made them all essentially PG-13 in the 1990’s, slashers used to be able to show a lot of gore. Slumber follows a mass murderer named Russ Thorn (Michael Villella), who has escaped to continue slaughtering innocent victims with his power drill. While the film was originally written as a parody, the finished product ended up being a serious slasher with metahorror tendencies. While the 1980s were filled with many campy and mindless slashers like Friday the 13th, (1980) Slumber stands out with its metahorror (when characters make nods to the horror genre) comedy and wit. The film opens with campy 1980’s slasher music showing a blood-splattered font, The Slumber Party Massacre. Opening to the sleepy, suburban town in Southern California, the blood-red credits roll as we watch a paper-boy riding down the street. Once inside the house, we meet Trish Devereaux (Michelle Michaels), a high school senior with a horrible alarm clock strategy. Trish has her alarm set to wake her up to talk radio, so her sleep is interrupted by a blood-curdling scream and a man shouting, “hey take it easy!” While it sounds like a broadcast murder, it’s really an early morning shock-jock rewarding a caller with a prize. Trish switches the radio to music and starts to get dressed. Her parents are going out of town (of course) so she’s got a lot to do before hosting her slumber party. Trish removes her virginal, white sleeping gown, and boom, we’ve got naked breasts just two minutes in. She changes into a different gown (apparently an outside one?) and gets ready for the day. Apparently, bras are banned in this small town as no one seems to wear one. As Trish hides her childhood toys in a brown paper bag, treating stuffed bears like porn or liquor, she hides her childhood self in preparation for a more adult-themed evening. If you think Trish and her pals are going to sit around doing each other’s nails and staying sober, you’re completely fucking wrong. The provisions for this slumber party include a shitload of weed, alcohol, and well, boys. As Trish finishes up her morning ritual, her mother yells “we’re leaving” overlapping with news of a serial killer running loose in the town. Police are still searching for escaped murderer, Russ Thorn, convicted for the brutal slaying of five people in Venice, California in 1969. Trish seems nonplussed by the news and doesn’t bother to tell her parents as they pack up the car for their getaway. Before they drive away, they reassure Trish that friendly, yet creepy neighbor Mr. Contat (Rigg Kennedy) will be nearby if they need anything. We know by the rules of horror that Mr. Contat will likely die in the next few scenes as fully armed cops can’t even help and he is unprepared to take on a serial killer. Trish tosses the bag of toys in the trash, leaving her childhood innocence by the curb, as a man’s hand reaches into the trash and grabs Barbie. The symbolism here is hilarious as Barbie is the ultimate feminist doll, as she has two rules: no marriage, no kids. Barbie was created to give girls an alternative to baby dolls that solidified their future as a mother. Barbie has had over 100 jobs; she’s been a Marine, the President, and holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. She’s the ultimate feminist symbol and the serial killer (possibly) taking that feminist symbol for himself is perhaps a nod to the misunderstanding of horror as a feminist movement. Much like Barbie who is misunderstood as anti-feminist, horror films are cast as glorifying violence against women, when they do just the opposite. Showing the film’s satirical nature, we’re introduced to a few of Trish’s classmates, who are the archetypical, rapey douchebags of horror. Two feather-haired high school boys dressed in preppy clothes sexually harass a telephone repairwoman. These bros are so creepy, you feel like your drink has been Cosby’d just by looking at them. They walk off as the busty, blonde telephone repairwoman gets dragged into her own van and slaughtered. Horror test two has been passed as we have a murder in the first five minutes of the film. The blonde woman pounds against the windows of the van, to no avail. The killer fires up his drill, penetrating the woman with his drill bit repeatedly until she dies. Now the killer’s got a disguise as a phone repairman and a vehicle. Who’s next? The following scene shows the girls in gym class ala Carrie, as the rapey polo shirt bros ogle the basketball practice from the bleachers. In a clear commentary to the gratuitous female nudity scenes rampant in most horror, there’s a hilarious girls’ locker room scene. The camera lingers on one girl’s naked ass for a laughable amount of time. It’s as if the filmmakers are turning to the audience and saying, “look ass and tits, isn’t this ridiculous?!” As the group of high school girls stand around naked, washing themselves with one bar of soap, Trish invites everyone to her slumber party tonight. Serial killer on the loose, naked high school girls, and parents out of town? That’s a massacre waiting to happen. As the popular girls debate who to invite to the slumber party, they tease poor Valerie (who can totally hear them) as being too pretty, too athletic, and drinking too much milk. Apparently, those are all horrible things? They finally smarten up and invite Valerie (Robin Stille), but after she’s just been lambasted, she declines, thinking it’s a trap. We might have our Final Girl. Valerie doesn’t show her tits and would rather stay home with her sister and not do drugs. That leaves the guest list to members of the basketball team, Diane (Gina Hunter), Kim (Debra Deliso), and Jackie (Andree Honore). Our denim-clad killer, Russ Thorn (whose name sounds like an indie porn star) lurks around the locker room with his drill in tow. Russ drills one of the girls, Linda (Brinke Stevens), in the arm and chases her through the school halls. She tries to hide in a locked room, but our serial killer’s weapon also happens to disable locks. Good choice, Thorn. In a moment of Hitchcockian suspense, we wait as Thorn looks for the wounded girl. Linda’s blood-curdling screams are heard throughout campus as Thorn returns to his van and prepares to crash the slumber party. The slumber party gets off to an amazing start, complete with dank-ass weed, liquor, and scantily-clad teens talking about boys. While loser Valerie stays home, down the street, babysitting her sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers), she misses out on all the fun. Valerie also seems to be without parents as she makes her famous Kool-Aid with added sugar for her sister. Unfortunately, their newly-divorced mother is away having fun with her new boyfriend like the great role model she is. Back at Trish’s the party’s off to a great start, as the girls pass a joint around and talk shit about their other friends. Drug use, nudity, questionable morals, no one seems interested in surviving this horror movie. The girls only night gets crashed by beacons of morality, Jeff (David Millbern), Neil (Joe Johnson), and Diane’s boyfriend John (Jim Boyce). The preppy douchebags watch the girls get undressed through the window and do nothing when they hear an I’ve-been-murdered scream. That scream is coming from none other than Mr. Contat, the super helpful neighbor. Just as expected, friendly, worthless piece of shit neighbor Mr. Contat gets deepthroated with the killer’s two-foot drill. Much like vampire slashers where the undead kill their victims through penetration, serial killer Russ Thorn has a similar strategy. Death by penetration of his overtly phallic drill, speaks to the sexually repressed nature of the archetypical male killer. Like Jason, Freddy, and Michael, Thorn is just another sadistic, sexually repressed white guy, on the hunt to penetrate and kill every woman he meets. Penetration also speaks to the intimate way these men choose to kill their victim. Unlike a gun, weapons like knives, chainsaws, and power-drills show how close the killer must get to his victim. By killing immoral girls, those carefree with nudity and boy-obsessed, the filmmakers make commentary on the double-standard for women’s sexuality. While rapey, peeping Toms harass women without consequence, women are immediately killed at any signs of expressing sexuality. Horror films are the greatest satire, as Wes Craven said, since they call attention to complete lack of consequences for violence and objectification towards women. The difference between reality and horror, is that in horror, women actually get revenge. Suddenly, the power goes out and the slumber party makes its way down to the basement to check the circuit breaker. None of the fuses are blown, but someone has removed them. In the basement, we see a profile of a man’s face. The killer is inside the house. Two men jump out, one of them is Jeff, who gets clocked upside the head with a flashlight. Apparently, they took the fuses and whine, “Geez can’t ya take a joke?” To which one girl responds, “How dya get out of the third grade? Can’t believe you two!” This is an interesting infantilization of the men, as so far they’ve just snuck a peek at girls changing and cut the power off. Usually, the young men of horror crash a slumber party to assert their masculinity, either to aggressively demand sex or complain about their sexual frustration. But Jeff and Neil are nothing more than emotional fuckwits. They just want to play grade school pranks and giggle. Yet the girls aren’t here for their shit, so they force the boys to put the power back on, restoring lights to the house. Back at Valerie’s, she’s doing homework, then shatters our faith in her by going outside alone to inspect a strange noise. Valerie finds out the noise came from her 1980’s Sesame Street metal trash cans and puts them back nonchalantly. Throughout the course of the movie, Valerie puts these trash cans back several times, never suspecting anything more than a stray animal. Campy, but creepy horror soundtrack comes in with a dun, dun, dun, dun, and it feels like my heart’s about to jump out through my chest. A red figure jumps out at Valerie with a knife, but oh, it’s just her kid sister Courtney. You’d think it’s Thorn at first in his signature red t-shirt, but it’s just Courtney’s bright red running shorts we see. Valerie straddles her sister (interesting take-down) and chides her about playing with actual kitchen knives. The two have a laugh and go back inside. Diane breaks yet another horror rule, by making out with her boyfriend in a parked car. Trish gets annoyed that Diane has broken the boy ban, distracting her long enough for good ol’ drill-hand to decapitate John. Diane returns to the car but her plans to continue sucking face are thwarted on account of her boyfriend no longer having a face. John’s head rolls off his body as Diane screams. Before Diane can warn the other girls that the escaped serial killer from the news is 100 percent totally fucking real, she’s killed instantly. There’s a great shot of the driller killer standing over her, his phallic drill rotating between his legs before penetrating her. The other girls finally know something’s up when the pizza guy shows up with one large pizza, and his eyes drilled out. One of the girls is on the phone with their basketball coach, Mrs. Jana (Pamela Roylance), who hears the frightened screams. Coach Jana tries calling the girls back, but this is when the phone line has been cut so she can’t get through. Coach sends Valerie to the house to check on the girls as she makes her way over to Trish’s house. Jeff and Neil attempt to regain their masculinity by arming themselves with knives and locking the doors and windows in Trish’s house. Finally. Trish’s mother kept reminding her to lock the doors and windows, but she wouldn’t listen. Jeff and Neil are not the guys you want protecting you from the driller killer. They break yet another rule of horror and offer some variant of “I’ll be right back” in addition to splitting up. As we know from Scream (1996) resident horror geek, Randy (Jamie Kennedy), “Never say, I’ll be right back. It’s a death wish.” Before they run off to save the women and their masculinity, Neil and Jeff have a heartfelt homoerotic moment in an upstairs bedroom. They stare into each other’s eyes as they sit close to each other on the bed. Jeff leans closer as if he’s about to kiss Neil and says, “Maybe we should make a run for it. Go to Valerie Bate’s house.” The Bates house? Haha of course. They make a plan: Neil plans will run to the Bate’s house and Jeff to Mr. Contat’s house (the super dead neighbor). Jeff and Neil stare longingly at each other as soft music plays. It’s a hilarious scene because it turns the concept of gender roles on its head. Usually, it’s female horror victims that are arbitrarily sexualized as they hide together. This time it’s two sexually ambiguous males in tight shirts, sharing a bed and all but embracing each other. If I hadn’t seen the opening credits, I never would’ve known women made this film. But knowing that it was created by women, this homoerotic moment adds a layer of humor. It’s almost as if the filmmakers are looking right at the audience saying, “Doesn’t feel good to be objectified, does it boys?” Somehow Jeff is already downstairs, looking for a quality kitchen knife to go after the driller killer. Trish plunges a knife near Jeff’s face and says, “Here. This is a good one. I almost chopped my fingers off chopping carrots yesterday.” Jeff’s face goes white as he imagines the castration-themed overtones of Trish’s story. He takes the knife hesitantly and goes off to save the world. If he’s this scared of Trish and her cutlery, he’s no match for the serial killer. Jeff stumbles upon Diane’s body and is soon attacked by the drill-wielding maniac. Although Jeff is drilled through his back, he manages to survive and limps away. Neil isn’t so lucky and gets killed by Thorn with brutal gore. These murders take place right outside Valerie’s house, each victim screaming for her help. But Valerie is too busy talking on the phone and listening to that damn rock music to hear the screams. Thorn drags Neil’s corpse back to John’s car, where he dumps it on top of the other corpses, Mr. Contat, John, and Diane. Counting the bodies, the driller killer realizes something has gone terribly wrong. Jeff isn’t dead. Jeff tries to knock on Trish’s door, but they ignore him, opting to eat the pizza from the dead delivery guy’s hand. Well they still need to eat dinner, right? Jeff gets drilled right outside the front door and Thorn kills Jackie next. Back in Trish’s bedroom, Thorn kills Kim, but Trish manages to escape. Valerie and Coach have arrived, but the girls still don’t trust Valerie. They think she’s working with the killer. After all, she is too pretty, too athletic, and drinks too much milk. Not to be trusted. The final scene is one of the most badass revenge scenes in horror history. Feeling pretty damn cocky, Thorn goes after Trish but has sorely underestimated her survival skills. Coach beats Thorn severely with a fire poker, but he finishes her off instantly. Badass Trish stabs Thorn with a butcher knife and Valerie comes after him with a machete. This plan looks a hell of a lot better than the boys’ plan to run around with knives they can’t use. Valerie achieves full Final Girl status as she machetes Thorn’s drill and hand off in one fell swoop. There’s a lot of deaths to keep track of, but this is a massacre after all. Thorn falls into the swimming pool as the Final Girls, Trish and Valerie hug each other, finally overcoming their high school drama. But remember Randy’s warning, “Never ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead” (Scream, 1996). Just as expected, Thorn jumps back to life and Valerie impales the motherfucker with a machete (a nice nod to Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th). Courtney appears alive, making her the third Final Girl. The badass women have finally killed the killer, as police sirens wail in the distance, way too fucking late. It’s quite rare to have three Final Girls, but Trish, Courtney, and Valerie have more than earned the title. These women don’t need men to rescue them—they can take care of themselves. This is possibly one of the many horror movies Scream (1996) pays homage too, as the Scream franchise was the first major slasher to feature the same three survivors in all four films, Sidney, Dewey, and Gale. If you’re looking for a badass horror movie filled with a violent massacre, hilarious one-liners, and badass Final Girls, look no further than The Slumber Party Massacre. This film turns the horror genre on its head, allowing Final Girls to be anything but stereotypes. Courtney likes porn, Valerie’s obsessed with doing her homework, and Trish can roll the fattest joint you’ve ever seen. As different as these girls are, they all have one thing in common—they’re survivors. What better way to celebrate Women in Horror Month? * Writer’s Note: I’d like to dedicate this piece to Robin Stille, the actor who played Final Girl, Valerie. She struggled with depression and substance abuse, eventually taking her own life at the age of 34. It was heartbreaking to find out such an amazing Final Girl lost her battle with depression. You can check out her other film, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988). See larger image The Slumber Party Massacre [Blu-ray] When Trish (Michele Michaels) decides to invite her high school girls’ basketball teammates over for a slumber party, she has no idea the night is going to end with an unexpected guest (an escaped mental patient and his portable power drill) crashing the party in the cult classic, The Slumber Party Massacre. New From: $16.48 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.