So you've found yourself at a get-together with a few friends - perhaps other individuals are present that you aren't acquainted with. Past social situations have taught you that in order to break the ice with some of the new-comers you need to establish a common bond among them. You casually stroll over, donning your most impressive frock coat, elegantly paired up with your treasured burgundy ascot, fully prepared to bring up a topic that mostly everyone can discuss; horror films. The utterance of "…80s Slashers" escapes your lips and before you know it the attendees are spouting forth their supposed expertise, slapping you with tales of mainstream mentionings. Suddenly, you quickly overhear the word "Slumber Party Massacre" and the small crowd erupts with laughter. "Have you ever watched that one?"
The Slumber Party Massacre is usually the go-to title that people resort to in the attempt of being humorous in regards to the venerable Slashers of yesteryear. On the outside it may appear to be a terrible mess of a film, even laughable to a 40-something-year-old suffering from extreme bouts of depression; on the brink of shooting up the office because no one likes him. In reality, 'Massacre may have been approached as a serious entry in the Slasher vault but the screenplay intended for it to be parody. I implore you…who's really laughing when it's all said and done? Let us explore the premise together so that we may examine the details thereafter. For those of you who haven't seen it this will bring you up to speed.
18-year-old highschooler Trish is left alone for the weekend while her parents are out of town. Naturally, in such an instance, antics of the highest caliber are in order. Valerie, a new arrival in town, is not viewed favorably in the eyes of Trish's friends, mostly pertaining to her superior athletic prowess. A slumber party is quickly arranged by the girls; uninterested with the premise of inviting Valerie. A late invitation is extended to her but she declines. Meanwhile, a local maniac by the name of Russ Thorn is on the prowl, neutralizing anyone that's in his path. His weapon of choice? A power drill. Will the clique of girls outfit themselves with a strategy to defend against his psychotic tactics?
At a mere glance it seems that The Slumber Party Massacre has all of the ingredients - the cool girls who don't approve of the newcomer, sex-driven males that have more wing-like layers cut into their short hairstyles that you fully expect their mop-tops to take flight into the dying sun, the crafty yet intelligent new girl that is obviously slated to be the strongest female character…it's all here. The icing on the cake is appealing with its sugary goodness when you consider the victims of the killer; overly susceptible to pitiful mistakes that not even the lowest form of Neanderthal would fall prey to. All of these elements I speak of are part of the parody of course, but to disinterested or uneducated movie-watchers it ultimately comes across as a laughable time-waster.
The man responsible for portraying Russ Thorn, Michael Villella, went above and beyond the call of what was expected of him; purposely isolating himself from the rest of the cast to heighten the tension of his character. He's responsible for very little dialog but the small amount that's given to him remains complimentary.
Straight-to-VHS releases were common almost 30 years ago and straight-to-DVD titles are even more prevalent in recent times. The Slumber Party Massacre managed to enjoy a brief stint in the theatres; charming audiences with its silliness, regardless if the humor was recognized. Cinema has drastically changed since the early 1980s but every now and then a title will peak out from its hiding place and allow audiences to experience the nostalgia all over again - 2006's Hatchet, in particular, and most prominently the sequel that was released just a few months shy of the New Year. Titles like these reflect how it used to be decades ago. Nowadays you rarely see a theatrical release of a film that didn't require a budget of several million dollars. Is that really what it's about?
For those of you who that are eager to read on about what the Professor has to say about The Slumber Party Massacre, here's the run-down: I don't like parodies. I'm extremely picky on what I consider tolerable horror comedies. Admittingly, when listening to one of the characters in 'Massacre say "…no, I think we should split up" as an alternative to sticking together, it managed to procure a chuckle from the dark recesses of my heart. Aside from this tidbit I'm far too jaded to be amused by what this film has to offer. Granted, I'm far more experienced with Slasher films than audiences were in 1982. Something tells me, however, that even if I was of age to see this in theatres 28 years ago, I'd remain unflinching in my stance of disapproval. One of the most shocking pieces of information closely tied to this film is the 1996 suicide of Robin Stille at the age of 35 - the woman who played Valerie. According to Linnea Quigley, Stille had a drinking problem. The official method of suicide was never released to the public. Her body was interred at Rose Hill Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. I suppose I could insert some tacky, ill-timed joke about the stigma of being attached to this film is what caused her demise but even children of the night have compassion.