The Film (3.5/5)
Allegedly, a satire of slasher film conventions, the first Slumber Party Massacre can also be viewed as the first feminist take on the slasher film genre. It was directed by Amy Holden Jones, and written by notable mystery author Rita Mae Brown. The film introduces Russ Thorn, an escaped lunatic with a special love for his power drill with 24 inch drill bit. Upon escape Russ decides to stalk the local high school basketball team. As for his reason, there does not appear to be one, but lucky for Russ his job is made easy by the fact that the girls have decided to converge on the home of head cheerleader Trish, whose parents happen to be out of town for the weekend.
One would think that a film being billed as a feminist slasher film, would feature less nudity and more violence. This is not the case here, Slumber Party Massacre offers both in spades. The film is pretty much a mix of bad acting, extreme violence, and gratuitous nudity. The first film provides the template for the rest of the series and the various spinoffs (Sorority House Massacre/Hard to Die).
The first film is definitely the best of the bunch, and the script which was rewritten by Amy Holden Jones from Rita Mae Brown's screenplay (previously called Don't Open the Door) had a lot of satiric humor. This is a film that does not take it's subject all too seriously, and as such makes a very fun film. The film definitely has the look of a low budget slasher film, made by a group of rookie filmmakers, and a cast of inexperienced actors. They make up for it with a good high energy feel, this is not a slow film. It has something to keep you watching every minute of it's short running times (Not one of these 3 films exceeds 90 minutes).
Slumber Party Massacre has recently had a DVD release from Shout! Factory as part of their Roger Corman's Cult Classics line of films in a package with the other 2 Slumber Party Massacre entries. This Blu-ray is advertised as having been scanned from the original negative, includes the original title sequence, and looks quite improved from what was on that DVD release. The film is presented in a 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that offers nice balanced colors, decent black levels, and improved fine detail over previous editions. There is a healthy organic grain structure throughout the presentation.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD mono track in English. The track is quite suitable with dialogue coming though quite clearly, as does the sound effects and score. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
The disc kicks off with a commentary moderated by Tony Brown of the Hockstatter Place (Slumber Party Massacre fan site) website. It features director Amy Holden Jones, and a couple of actors from the film. This is followed by an abridged version of the documentary included on the DVD release of the film. It is entitled Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacre, and it's original form ran roughly an hour with discussions on all 3 films. This version is 23 minutes long, and was cut down to only include the pertinent information to this film. I hope this is an indication of the other SPM films getting Blu-ray's in the future. We then gets a 13 minute interview with Rigg Kennedy who played the next door neighbor in the film. The disc is rounded off a stills and poster gallery, and trailers for all 3 films.
Slumber Party Massacre is not the best of the 80's slashers,but it is quite a good little slasher ride. The A/V on the Blu-ray is improved from the recent DVD release, and the extras are quite interesting and informative. RECOMMENDED.