The Slumber Party Massacre (USA, 1982)

An escaped mental asylum patient wreaks havoc in this breakout cult classic written and directed by female filmmakers and authors.

Trish is planning a slumber party with her friends Diane, Jackie, Kim, and Linda. Trish invites her new neighbor and high school classmate Valerie, but after overhearing Diane’s pompus attitude about her, she opts not to go. Their male friends Jeff and Neil have plans to crash the party, but someone else is about to crash the party and his name is Russ Thorn.

In 1969, Thorn killed five people and was put into a mental asylum. He has escaped and with a power drill in hand, he plans to once again slice and dice his way. As the party goes on, the body count slowly begins to rise and it gets to where Valerie and her little sister Courtney are targeted by Thorn. Can Russ Thorn be stopped and who will stop him?

Originally conceived as a parody of slasher films, the legendary Roger Corman decided to make it into a more serious film that may seem like a typical slasher. However, with Rita Mae Brown’s script and under the direction of Amy Holden Jones, the film has been hailed as an instant cult classic about a serial killer who escapes and uses a power drill to slice and dice his way through a slumber party.

Of course, with Corman as producer, there is going to be an amount of T n’ A. However, it only stays to within the first fifteen minutes of the film’s seventy-five-minute run time. While the film’s top billing is that of Michelle Michael’s Trish as she is the host of the slumber party, it seems more that Robin Stille’s Valerie is the more central character, being the new girl in town. Throughout the film, we see Valerie with her sister Courtney, played by Jennifer Meyers (in her only film role). One character that certainly needs to get hers is the pompous Diane, played by Gina Mari. She comes off as arrogant, even trash talking Valerie in the opening scenes all from jealousy and the fact she’s new.

Michael Villella is excellent in the role of Russ Thorn, our killer of the film. What’s great is that he comes off as quiet and has these striking eyes that yell fear. Armed with the power drill, he begins killing from the moment we meet him, killing a telephone operator there to fix the lines at the high school. While he mostly uses a power drill, there are two deaths by stabbing in the film. When he finally does talk, moments during the final set piece, it is clear that Russ Thorn is definitely a psychopath.

The film would spawn two sequels in 1987 and 1990, also written and directed by female filmmakers, result in two Corman-produced spinoff-franchises, Sorority House Massacre and Cheerleader Massacre, and a reboot, shot in South Africa, will be released sometime this fall with comedian Rob van Vuuren taking the reins as Russ Thorn with Danishka Esterhazy (The Banana Splits Movie) directing.

The original Slumber Party Massacre may be seen as a typical slasher, but it can be considered groundbreaking with female filmmakers responsible. With the sequels and upcoming reboot, that formula still holds its ground today as an instant cult classic.

WFG RATING: A-

New World Pictures presents a Santa Fe Productions film. Director: Amy Holden Jones. Producer: Amy Holden Jones. Writer: Rita Mae Brown. Cinematography: Steve Posey. Editing: Sean Foley.

Cast: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella, Jennifer Meyers, Debra Deliso, Gina Mari, Andree Honore, Joseph Alan Johnson, David Millbern, Jim Boyce, Pamela Roylance, Brinke Stevens.

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