Review

Review

Slasher Cinema Showcase: 'Slumber Party Massacre II'

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Today's spotlight falls on a belated sequel to the early slasher film The Slumber Party Massacre. The 1982 original is a lower-profile affair, but does have its share of fans, and is one of very few entries the slasher field to be directed by a woman (Amy Holden Jones), which is noteworthy for a genre often accused of misogynistic tendencies. Based on a screenplay by feminist author Rita Mae Brown, the film was originally intended to parody the slasher formula, playing with the idea of the murder weapon as a phallic object – very phallic, in fact, as the killer opted for an extremely large power drill – but most of the satire was removed by the producers.
 
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The drill whirs to life again in this 1987 follow-up, produced by genre icon Roger Corman and once again helmed by a female director (Deborah Brock). For this outing, the producers were obviously more influenced by the popularity of Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, reshaping the slasher formula into a dream-based scenario, and the comic elements that got axed from the first film are played up proudly (if sloppily) in this one. But those aren't the reasons I've singled this little oddity out for attention: it's the killer himself – and his very imaginative weapon of choice – that makes this one unique. 
 
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Our protagonist Courtney (Crystal Bernard, a familiar face in '80s TV) is a member of an all-girl rock band, and plagued by nightmares involving her institutionalized sister... and eventually haunted by a leather-clad, demonic musician (Atanas Ilich) whose already evil-looking guitar is custom modified with a massive, fully-functional power drill. That image alone was enough to get my attention, and while the film doesn't fully deliver on the potential of that goofy premise, it's still a lot of fun if you're willing to just have a few beers and roll with the crazy '80s cheese (dig that day-glo color scheme!). There's even a few loose horror homages strewn around: Courtney's last name is Bates (as in Norman), and other characters are named Craven, Krueger, Voorhees... you get the idea. But it's all about the driller-killer guitar, which you can see in action during this insane musical number:
 
 
EverDeadI would have expected quite a few horror-themed bands to take advantage of that imagery, but so far, I only know of one to pay direct homage to this musically-inclined killer, and that's the Misfits-style horror punk unit The EverDead, who devoted a single to the film and features a likeness of the killer on the cover... though he's somewhat overshadowed by all the bare asses on display.
 
Slumber Party Massacre II was released on DVD by Corman's New Concorde Pictures, and the best version is bundled with the first and third films in the series, under the “Roger Corman's Cult Classics” label.
 
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