The Slumber Party Massacre
|The Slumber Party Massacre|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Amy Holden Jones|
|Produced by||Amy Holden Jones|
|Written by||Rita Mae Brown|
|Music by||Ralph Jones|
|Cinematography||Stephen L. Posey|
|Edited by||Wendy Greene Bricmont
Santa Fe Productions
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
The Slumber Party Massacre is a 1982 American slasher film directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by Rita Mae Brown, starring Michelle Michaels and Robin Stille. The film follows a high school senior who, left alone by her parents for the weekend, gathers her friends for a slumber party, not knowing that a murderer using a power drill is on the loose in the neighborhood.
The film was originally written by Brown as a parody of the slasher genre; however, it was instead filmed as a straightforward horror film. As a result, the movie contains more humor, both intended and unintended, than usual for the genre. When originally released, the film received mixed reviews, but has since developed a cult following.
Trish Devereaux (Michelle Michaels), an 18-year-old high school senior, decides to throw a slumber party while her parents are away for the weekend, and their neighbor Mr. Contant (Rigg Kennedy) is given the job of checking in on the girls during the night. She awakes to the sound of her radio and gets dressed shortly before going to school. Meanwhile, Russ Thorn (Michael Villella), an escaped mass murderer with a preference for power drills, kills a telephone repair woman (Jean Vargas) and steals her van. Trish meets up with her friends Kim (Debra Deliso), Jackie (Andree Honore) and Diane (Gina Hunter) and the girls on her basketball team. A new girl named Valerie Bates (Robin Stille) is invited by Trish, but refuses after hearing Diane talking cruelly about her. Russ Thorn watches the girls leave school from the van and a girl named Linda (Brinke Stevens) goes back inside the school to retrieve a book for a test, only to be locked inside and attacked by Thorn who damages her left arm. She eventually hides in the shower room, but the killer finds out where she is due to her blood loss and shortly kills her before escaping to the van.
That evening, the party begins as the girls smoke marijuana and talk about boys. Valerie lives next door and is babysitting her younger sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers) while their recently-divorced mother is away for the weekend with a new boyfriend. Diane's boyfriend John (Jim Boyce) and two boys from the school named Jeff (David Millbern) and Neil (Joe Johnson) arrive and spy on the girls undressing. Thorn attacks and kills Mr. Contant with his power drill; meanwhile Courtney is begging Valerie to go to the party, but Valerie protests. Diane begins to make out with John in the car and after she gets out to ask Trish permission to go with him, she comes back to find him decapitated. Diane tries to flee, but is murdered also.
While the girls are on the phone with their coach, Mrs. Jana (Pamela Roylance), the pizza guy is shown with his eyes drilled out. Coach Jana hears the girls screaming and calls Valerie to check on them, then decides to drive over to the house to check on them herself. The girls try calling the police, but Thorn cuts the phone line before they are connected. The teens arm themselves with knives and Jeff and Neil try to run for help, but are killed by Thorn. Thorn gains entry to the house, murders Jackie, and chases Kim and Trish upstairs. Courtney and Valerie go over to the house, but find the house dark, unaware of the horror that has happened. Trish and Kim have barricaded themselves in Trish's bedroom. They hear Valerie and ignore her, thinking she may be the killer's friend. Thorn unexpectedly enters the bedroom through a window and disarms Kim, stabbing her with her own knife and causing Trish to flee and hide.
Courtney and Valerie enter Trish's house and find Kim dead. Thorn attacks them and Valerie escapes to the basement while Courtney hides under the couch. Coach Jana arrives and beats Thorn with a fireplace poker, but he quickly murders her. Trish manages to stab Thorn with a butcher knife, but it barely slows him down. Valerie chases Thorn with a machete out the back door. She severs his drill bit and his left hand, and he falls into the swimming pool. As the girls embrace, Thorn emerges from the pool and attacks them, but Valerie impales him on the machete, killing him. Valerie and Trish break down into tears upon killing Thorn and Courtney looks on in a state of shock as police sirens are heard in the distance.
- Michelle Michaels as Trish Devereaux
- Robin Stille as Valerie 'Val' Bates
- Michael Villella as Russ Thorn
- Debra Deliso as Kimberly 'Kim' Clarke
- Andree Honore as Jackie
- Gina Smika as Diane
- Jennifer Meyers as Courtney Bates
- Joseph Alan Johnson as Neil
- David Millbern as Jeff
- Jim Boyce as John Minor
- Pamela Roylance as Coach Rachel Jana
- Brinke Stevens as Linda
- Rigg Kennedy as Mr. David Contant
- Jean Vargas as Mary/Phone Repairer Woman
- Anna Patton as Mrs. Devereaux
- Howard Purgason as Mr. Devereaux
Author and feminist activist Rita Mae Brown wrote the original screenplay, titled Sleepless Nights, as a parody of the slasher film. Producers repurposed Brown's script to make a "serious" slasher film against her wishes.
Amy Holden Jones, a film editor, wanted to direct and asked Frances Doel for advice. Doel gave Jones a number of scripts. Jones chose the script that would become The Slumber Party Massacre, then going by the title of Don't Open the Door, and decided to film the first three scenes. Her husband, cinematographer Michael Chapman, acquired equipment and film and hired actors, and they shot the scenes at their house over a weekend for $1,000. She showed the result to Roger Corman, who agreed to finance the film. Jones had to turn down a job editing Steven Spielberg's E.T. (1982) as a result. The soundtrack was composed on a Casio MT-30.
The film was screened in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in March 1982, and later premiered in Los Angeles on September 10, 1982. It was given a limited release by New World Pictures on November 12, 1982.
The Slumber Party Massacre received mixed reviews from critics. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote of the film: "The Slumber Party Massacre is just the usual cavalcade of corpses, all of them dispatched by a maniac who wields a power drill. At the end of the movie, a woman who has miraculously survived the carnage breaks his drill in half. That's feminism for you, and symbolism too." Time Out gave the film a middling review, noting: "Despite the unlikely script credit for Rita Mae Brown, Jones's debut feature is little more than a Halloween clone, reliant on buckets of blood and sudden surprise rather than suspense."
Variety's published review, however, praised the film: "Besides its obviously catchy title, Slumber Party Massacre is an entertaining terror thriller, with the switch that distaff filmmakers handle the 'young women in jeopardy' format." Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader also gave the film a positive review, noting its even pacing and direction by Jones. Leonard Klady of the Los Angeles Times also noted the film's pacing, writing in a retrospective that the film boasted a "darkly humorous vision and a breathtaking pace."
The film has been released on DVD three times in North America. The first release came from New Concorde Home Entertainment in September 2000. Extras included actor bios along with trailers for Slumber Party Massacre, Slumber Party Massacre II and Sorority House Massacre II. The company subsequently re-released the film on a double feature DVD alongside Slumber Party Massacre II in July 2003. These versions are both currently out of print. On 5 October 2010 Shout! Factory released Slumber Party Massacre, Slumber Party Massacre II and Slumber Party Massacre III on a two-disc special edition DVD set.
In the United Kingdom, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) re-titled the film The Slumber Party Murders, as the word "massacre" was felt to be too suggestive. In the United Kingdom it has had two releases to DVD, with both editions not containing any special features. The most recent edition was released by Matrodome Entertainment under the company IN2Film.
There have been two sequels to the movie: Slumber Party Massacre II and Slumber Party Massacre III. The film is included on the Massacre Collection DVD, which also includes Sorority House Massacre, Sorority House Massacre II and Hard to Die. Jason Paul Collum directed the documentary Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres (2010).
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