The Slumber Party Massacre
The Slumber Party Massacre is a 1982 American slasher film directed by Amy Holden Jones, written by Rita Mae Brown, and 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, unaware that an escaped power drill-wielding murderer is loose in the neighborhood.
|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|
|Box office||$3.6 million|
The film was originally written by Brown as a parody of the slasher genre; however, it was instead done as a straight horror film. As a result, it contains more humor, both intended and unintended, than usual for the genre. The film initially received mixed reviews, but has since developed a cult following.
Trish Devereaux-Craven, an 18-year-old high school senior, decides to throw a slumber party while her parents are away for the weekend. Their neighbor, David Contant, 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, an escaped mass murderer with a preference for power drills, kills a telephone repair woman and steals her van. Trish meets up with her friends Kim, Jackie, and Diane, the girls on her basketball team. A new girl, Valerie Bates, is invited by Trish, but refuses after hearing Diane talking cruelly about her. Russ watches the girls leave school from the van and a girl, Linda, goes back inside the school to retrieve a book for a test, only to be locked inside and attacked by Russ, who injures her left arm. She eventually hides in the shower room, but the killer finds out where she is because of her blood loss, and 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, while their recently divorced mother is away for the weekend with a new boyfriend. Diane's boyfriend John, and two boys from school, Jeff and Neil, arrive and spy on the girls undressing. Russ kills Mr. Contant with his power drill. Courtney begs Valerie to go to the party, but Valerie protests. Diane makes out with John in the car and gets out to ask Trish permission to go with him. She comes back to find him decapitated and tries to flee, but is murdered also.
While the girls are on the phone with their coach, Jana, 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 Russ 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 Russ. Russ 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. Russ enters the bedroom through a window and disarms Kim, killing her with her own knife as Trish flees.
Courtney and Valerie enter Trish's house and find Kim dead. Russ attacks them, but Valerie escapes to the basement while Courtney hides under the couch. Coach Jana arrives and beats Russ with a fireplace poker, but he murders her. Trish stabs Russ with a butcher knife, but it barely slows him down. Valerie chases Russ 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, Russ emerges from the pool and attacks them. Valerie kills him by impaling him with the machete, killing him. Valerie and Trish break down into tears upon killing Russ. Courtney looks on in a state of shock as police sirens are heard in the distance.
- Michelle Michaels as Trish Devereaux-Craven
- 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 (Telephone Repairwoman)
- Howard Purgason as Mr Devereaux
- Anna Patton as Mrs Annette 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 from the University of California, Los Angeles, 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.
Distributed by New World Pictures, 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 in New York City on November 12, 1982. It grossed over $3,000,000 at the box office on an estimated budget of $220,000.
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." David Hinckley of the New York Daily News awarded the film 1.5 stars out of 4, noting that the performances are "uneven," and "the special effects are not special."
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."
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 36% of 14 critics gave the film a positive review; the average ratings is 4.4 out of 10. Despite the critical reception, the film has a large cult following among slasher fans.
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 U.K., it has had two releases to DVD, with both editions not containing special features. The most recent edition was released by Matrodome Entertainment under the company IN2Film.
There have been two sequels to the film, Slumber Party Massacre II and Slumber Party Massacre III. Jason Paul Collum directed the documentary Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres (2010).
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