Friday, April 22, 2011

Slumber Party Massacre 2

You might think all slasher films are juvenile and sexist. But did you know Slumber Party Massacre 2 was written and directed by a woman? It's also different from other horror flicks in that it has a sense of humor about it. Also, it's a scary movie in the vein of Joe Dante's Gremlins because it's more fun than it is frightening.

The killer in Slumber Party Massacre 2 is a good-looking rockabilly type who kills his victims in a musical rock & roll manner. His electric guitar has a giant drill attached to it. I suppose the underlying psychological appeal to these driller killer movies is that the drill is representative of a threatening phallic symbol. The formula for these movies is often that only the virgin survives. Taking this into account, Slumber Party Massacre 2 is the only one of these movies that directly relates these symbols to the subconscious. The director, Deborah Brock, has done this by setting the film in the premise that we are watching a teenage girl's nightmare. The girl is a guitarist in a rock & roll band which makes the driller guitar killer seem less random. Other dreamlike fantasies include giant exploding zits and bbq rib sandwiches made of body parts. These reflect typical teenage girl worries...acne and eating disorders. Also, for the most part, the movie leaves the viewer in suspense because most of the killing doesn't occur until the very end of the film. And instead of creepy John Carpenter-esque music, the massacre is accompanied by fun, upbeat rock numbers with the killer singing along like a toned down and less participatory Rocky Horror Picture Show. Until the massacre occurs, this is pretty much your typical 80's teen romance sex comedy with some poignant moments (and less typical stirring psychological dreamlike moments). The girls are all cute with distinctive personalities and decked out in fashions out of an 80's rock video. The guys are doofuses, making these girls appear even cooler.

It would be a stretch to call this a feminist slasher film. However, the girls here definitely appear to be having a good time while ready to "kick ass"! It's also colorful and hammed up in the way that most 70's Roger Corman productions were. It really is a good movie that stands the test of time.

Another thing that fascinates me about SPM2 is that it came out just two years after the teen mass market horror paperback book of the 1980's. In fact, Christopher Pike's first book, Slumber Party, was released in 1985. Interestingly enough, Pike would become one of my favorite popular writers of the late 1980's. Often mistaken as a sort of West coast R.L. Stine, Pike's thrillers lack the humor of Stine's book but make-up for that cheekiness with touches of science fiction and spirituality. I often wondered what a potential Pike movie might look like. In 1996, there was a made-for-tv movie based on Pike's Fall Into Darkness. However, with it's southern California setting and strange slasher appeal, SPM2 offers as much eye candy as the uniquely neon spines of those amazing Pike novels that have all but vanished from public library shelves.

Also recommended are...

Favorite Christopher Pike books: The Star Group & Sati

Favorite scary movie: Exorcist 2, The Heretic