You know a villain is a great one when he’s rocking the all-denim look!
Written By: Rita Mae Brown
Directed By: Amy Holden Jones
I’m sure that noted feminist author Rita Mae Brown had something to say in The Slumber Party Massacre. The pieces are all in place for a critique, or parody, of the emerging slasher genre of the 1980s. Somewhere from print to screen I have the sneaking suspicion that Miss Brown’s script was watered down and altered to the point where a mundane slasher was all that remained.
Gender roles as seen in The Slumber Party Massacre are unique within the realm of the slasher subgenre of horror. The cast is mainly female. They dominate the screen so much so that all the male characters, sans the killer, are relegated to one note jokes. This is where I believe Miss Brown was trying to use her feminist viewpoint to attack the tropes of the slasher genre head on. We get to see the women in The Slumber Party Massacre as resourceful, stupid, and everything in-between. They play all the roles and are more important than the men because men are not needed for women to survive or get by in life.
The killer in The Slumber Party Massacre is obviously a walking phallic symbol. Every weapon he uses to assault the various women, and men, he encounters is phallic in nature. The only time we hear him speak he talks about loving the women he kills. He is the fragile male psyche lashing out at all those who would dare to challenge his manhood. They need not challenge his manhood directly, they only need to be living and breathing to be threats to his weakened manhood.
The problem with all of the above is that those ideas are ultimately very shallowly explored in The Slumber Party Massacre. The feminist theories are discernible, but they are overpowered by the bad acting, the lack of direction, and the films willingness to wallow in the tropes of the slasher subgenre. I enjoyed the fact that Amy Holden Jones’ film was able to tap into a feminine side of the slasher genre that is not often explored. However, I wish it would have explored it more in order to make up for how middling the rest of the film ended up being.
The Slumber Party Massacre can’t hang its hat on suspense, tension, or inventive kills. Miss Jones’ film needs to play to its feminist strengths. Instead it muddies those thrusts of the film and relegates itself to nothing more than a standard slasher flick. When the film finished I didn’t feel like I had watched anything special. I knew that I had watched a film that could have been something different. In the end The Slumber Party Massacre is no better, and not different enough from, than any cheaply made slasher from the 1980s.