Made fast and cheap to cash in on the slasher craze that was dominating the box office in the eighties, Slumber Party Massacre from Roger Corman's New Concorde productions proved popular enough to spawn two sequels. While these were originally released on DVD years ago by Corman's label, they went out of print but thanks to the efforts of Shout! Factory and their line of Roger Corman's Cult Classics special editions, the whole trilogy was born again on DVD back in 2011. Now the first film in the series is reissued on Blu-ray, and hopefully if it does well enough we'll see the sequels follow suit.
But let's get back to Slumber Party Massacre. The film follows an eighteen year old high school student named Trish Devereaux (Michele Michaels) whose parents are going away for the weekend and leaving her alone overnight. Trish, being an eighteen year old, does what most eighteen year olds would do and decides to host a slumber party for the girls on the basketball team. While showering off after practice (giving us ample opportunity for nudity right out of the starting gates) Trish invites her friends Kimberly (Debra Deliso), Jackie (Andree Honore) and Diane (Gina Smika) as well as the pretty new girl, Valerie Bates (Robin Stille), who has just moved to town with her younger sister, Courtney (Jennifer Meyers).
Valerie, who lives right across the street from Trish, opts not to go to the party, as there's some tension between her and some of the other girls on the team. This will prove to have been a very smart move indeed when the slumber party gets crashed first by the nosey neighbor and then later by escaped serial killer Russ Thorn (Michael Villella).
Chock full of blood, gore and boobies galore, Slumber Party Massacre can work as a clichéd slasher or as a send up of the genre depending on how you look at it. Directed by feminist Amy Holden Jones and based on a script by Rite Mae Brown, the film does do an interesting job with the reversing of roles typical in slasher movies. Here we see a female telephone repair person and a female basketball team, positions that would traditionally be held by men in horror films, while the male characters simply follow the girls around and dote on them, never mind the phallic symbolism of the power tool murders! If you want to read into this some sort of feminist leanings, go for it, they're probably there if you want to dig for them (and in fact the extras do touch on this a bit).
Some of us, however, prefer the more uncivilized approach and just want to enjoy the movie for the funny, gory, sexy slasher picture that it is. Holes and all, and there are a lot of them here, this is a wonderfully entertaining film from start to finish that hits all the right notes. It delivers some solid tension, a few fun performances, some quotable dialogue, and of course, some fantastic murder set pieces.The Blu-ray:
Slumber Party Massacre debuts on Blu-ray in what the packaging calls ‘a new HD transfer from the original camera negative' that is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The image is grainy but not dirty looking, there isn't much in the way of print damage to complain about. There's no evidence of noise reduction having been applied here, and this would seem to be an accurate representation of the elements used as source material. Detail is definitely better than the past DVD releases though keep in mind that this is a low budget eighties slasher made on the cheap, it never really hits ‘mind blowing' the way a newer or better made picture might. Some of the darker scenes show some minor compression artifacts but it's not a constant problem here. Texture is decent as well, you can see some of the fibers in the killer's denim jacket while skin tones look pretty good, never too hot or too pink or too orange. Colors look pretty good too, reds don't bleed the way that they sometimes do and the different hues and shades are pretty well defined.Sound:
The only audio option on the disc is a DTS-HD Mono track in the film's original English language. For an older single channel mix, the audio here is fine. The levels are properly balanced, there are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the dialogue is always easy to understand. The score and effects have a bit more depth and presence to them than they did on the DVD release. There are no alternate language options or subtitles/closed captioning options offered.Extras:
The disc carries over a commentary track with moderator Tony Brown, director/producer Amy Jones, actor Michael Villella, and actress Debra Deliso. Brown runs the Slumber Party Massacre fan site, The Hockstatter Place, and knows his stuff and as such is able to keep the discussion moving fairly well. Jones has more to say than the other participants and is keen on telling her side of the story, but all involved share some good stories. Jones seems intrigued by many of the sets and props, even pointing out a lamp that was used in the movie she made after this one and pointing out various crew members who pop up in the film in small roles. There are spots where they clam up a bit and seem more interested in watching the movie rather than talking about it but for the majority of the time they there's no shortage of things to talk about here and this commentary is a nice companion to the documentary.
The original trilogy release also contained an excellent feature length documentary on the making of all three films in the series entitled Sleepless Nights: Revisiting The Slumber Party Massacre (60:40). This Blu-ray release contains a scaled down version of that documentary (which runs 23:04) that cuts out the bits that relate to the sequels and which focuses on the first film. Affectionately done, this documentary contains interviews with Amy Holden-Jones, Kathleen Courtney (who was the Production Coordinator on the second movie), Jason Paul Collum (author of Attack Of The Killer B's: Interviews With20 Cult Film Actresses), actress Debra De Liso, actress Brinke Stevens, actor Michael Villella, and super fan/webmaster Tony Brown. We also get some interesting fan footage of some of the locations used in the movie. The documentary has a good sense of humor about it, never taking things too seriously but at the same time taking them just seriously enough and anyone with a passing interesting in the series will enjoy sitting down and watching this one. Ideally Shout! would have included the entire full length version but presumably if/when they hit Blu-ray we'll see that content ported over to those releases.
New to the disc (and not mentioned on the packaging for some reason) is an interview with Rigg Kennedy called The Man Next Door (13:22) that lets the actor who played David Contant (the next door neighbor) in the movie talk about how he got into acting, how it is a gamble in a sense, how in his younger days he did one man shows and how he wound up performing poetry. From there he talks about how he wound up getting the part in Slumber Party Massacre, why he didn't use his name in the credits and why that was a mistake, and what it was like on set. He tells some interesting stories about working on the picture, his appreciation for the beautiful actresses in the movie, and then about half way through he recites a poem and howls dramatically, breaks into Mariachi music and makes a lot of strange noises. Kennedy's a pretty animated and eccentric interviewee with a great sense of humor and a genuinely odd unpredictability to him. This interview goes way off topic but it's still a pretty great (and completely unexpected!) addition to the release.
The extras on the disc close out with a pretty massive still gallery of home video releases, poster art and promotional stills, trailers for all three films in the set, animated menus and chapter selection. All of the extras on the disc are presented in high definition.
Slumber Party Massacre remains a fun eighties slasher. It's not deep and it's not all that original but it features a great killer, plenty of pretty ladies, some good gore effects and some twisted humor too. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray offers a nice upgrade in both the audio and video departments and carries over (mostly) all the supplements from the DVD release, even throwing in a completely bizarre bonus interview with Kennedy for good measure. Recommended… bring on the sequels.