The Slumber Party Massacre – USA, 1982

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‘Close your eyes for a second… and sleep forever.’

The Slumber Party Massacre is a 1982 American slasher horror feature film produced and directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by feminist Rita Mae Brown, apparently as a parody (her original titles were Don’t Open the Door and Sleepless Nights).

The movie stars Michele Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella, Debra Deliso and Andree Honore. Future Scream Queen Brinke Stevens has a minor role.

Amy Holden Jones wanted to direct and asked Frances Doel – then head of the script department at New World Pictures – for advice. She gave Jones a number of scripts one of which was Don’t Open the Door. She saw the first eight pages had a dialogue scene, a suspense scene and a violent action scene, and decided to film them. Her cinematographer husband Michael Chapman got some short ends of film for her and they borrowed some equipment, hired some actors and shot the scenes at their house over a weekend for $1,000. She showed the result to Corman who agreed to finance the film.

There have been three sequels to the movie: Slumber Party Massacre IISlumber Party Massacre III and Cheerleader Massacre. The film is included on The Massacre Collection DVD, which also includes Sorority House MassacreSorority 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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Trish Devereaux (Michelle Michaels), an eighteen year-old senior decides to throw a slumber party while her parents are away for the weekend and their neighbour Mr. Contant (Rigg Kennedy) is given the job of checking in on the girls during the night. That morning, she gets up, dresses and heads to school.

Meanwhile, a mass murderer with a fondness for power drills, Russ Thorn (Michael Villella), has escaped from prison, kills a telephone repair woman (Jean Vargas) with a power drill 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. The new girl, 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 but is attacked by Thorn and murdered with a power drill. That evening, the party and the bloody decimation begins of the girls, as they smoke pot and talk about boys. Valerie lives next door conveniently and is babysitting her younger sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers).

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Diane’s boyfriend John (Jim Boyce) and two other guys from school Jeff (David Millbern) and Neil (Joe Johnson) arrive who spy on the girls undressing. Thorn kills Mr. Contant, drilling through his neck, and meanwhile, Courtney is begging Valerie to go crash the party, but Valerie protests. Diane begins making out with John in the car and after she gets out to ask Trish permission to go off with John, she comes back to find him decapitated. Diane tries to flee, but is murdered with the drill…

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Reviews:

“With a cast of ‘teens’ who all look to be in their twenties (but weren’t they all in the 80s?), the film features the standard tropes and cliches of the genre – scantily clad girls, no way to contact the authorities for help, a killer who has an almost supernatural ability to move about the environment and an almost super-human strength – but remember that Slumber Party Massacre was made in 1982 and at the time it was actually a pioneer of the genre, paving the way for the tens of thousands of slasher movies that followed!” Phil Wheat, Nerdly

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“Slumber Party Massacre would have been a somewhat better movie had it either been allowed to remain the parody it was meant to be, or received a more thorough rebuild when the satirical intentions were abandoned. Nevertheless, I’m really kind of glad we wound up with this misbegotten half-measure instead … ” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“As with most slasher films, the body count is overwhelmingly female: seven girls snuff it, compared to five men. There are long, lingering shots of women soaping themselves in showers; and for teenage girls, the female characters seem to be inordinately fond of lacy, grown-up negligees. But the film’s gender commentary becomes more obvious with the portrayal of Russ Thorn (Michael Villella), the killer driller of the film. He’s no Leatherface; in fact, he resembles a mouth-breathing Spanish teacher in 80s double denim, with a weirdly feminine voice to boot.” Zing Tsjeng, Dazed Digital

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Cast and characters:

  • 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 – House of Lost Souls; Ghosts of Sodom; Iced; Berserker
  • 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)
  • Howard Purgason as Mr Devereaux
  • Anna Patton as Mrs Annette Devereaux

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