Tagline: Thrills, Chills and Guitar Drills.
Director: Deborah Brock
Writer: Deborah Brock
Starring: Crystal Bernard, Jennifer Rhodes, Kimberly McArthur, Patrick Lowe, Juliette Cummins, Heidi Kozak, Cindy Eilbacher, Atanas Ilitch, Joel Hoffman, Scott Westmoreland, Michael DeLano, Hamilton Mitchell, Marshall LaPlante, Don Daniel
Rejected | 1h 17min | Comedy, Horror, Music
Back in 1987, Fred Krueger took his first steps to becoming the horror genre’s first bona fide rock star. With Wes Craven back on board to beef up the characterisation, Chuck Russel’s The Dream Warriors salvaged a stuttering franchise following the misguided debacle that was Freddy’s Revenge, returning to the dreamworld concept and catapulting Krueger to commercial superstardom. Still the scourge of nightmares, the character would shed his darker dispositions to become the ethereal circus master of a marketing campaign that exceeded all expectation, resulting in the kind of unlikely merchandising never before achieved.
With Krueger, Craven had redefined the slasher genre, and with Slumber Party Massacre II writer/director Deborah Brock attempts to redefine a franchise in her own right, using the Krueger character and its marketability as a blueprint. Brock may disagree, and perhaps this is all just a very fortunate coincidence, but the similarities between the two movies are thinly veiled at best, and were probably the main reason why producers bought into this ambitious, yet haphazardly judged slice of slasher hokum.
First of all, the movie gives us an antagonist who plagues our heroine’s nightmares, using her fear to draw him into a reality where he can have his way with a fictional girl group and a couple of generic douchebags looking to get their dicks wet. Not only that, it gives us a villain whose weapon acts as an extension of his evil, one which takes centre stage as he reels off inane puns that have neither the wit nor the bite of the ‘Nightmare’ series. So strong are the similitudes that the movie even seems to make a direct reference to Craven’s phenomenon by giving one of its characters old pizza face’s notorious surname.
The plot is simple enough: Courtney (Crystal Bernard), the younger sister of the first movie’s protagonist, is all grown up and suffering from the kind of viscera-strewn nightmares that threaten to bleed into reality, and when she and the rest of her rock band plan a salacious sleepover, the inevitable massacre ensues. Eventually.
The first 45 minutes of the movie consists of inane interactions, impromptu pop performances and the kind of subliminal violence that offers nothing of any substance, while the neon sets and frenetic editing leaves you more confused than anything, teasing the arrival of our killer for far too long. In the end, that’s the movie’s biggest flaw: it’s inability to go anywhere with any kind of urgency or assuredness. Also, the decision to have every character look directly into the camera may work for quirky first-person sitcoms such as Peep Show, but here it seems shallow and tacked-on and generally counterproductive.
Still, the movie provides its fair share of gross-out moments that are sure to keep fans of schlock happy, with severed hands, phallic penetration and the kid of gargantuan teenage zit that just won’t quit (man, I feel queasy just thinking about the mess it leaves). By 1987, the sub-genre had turned to self-mocking as the blood dried-up along with the ideas, and the movie couldn’t be any different in tone from the original, which although originally planned as a parody on the slasher craze was instead presented as the same kind of cynical, dead-eyed trash that had long been banished to commercial ignominy by the time its goofy sibling broke out the playful gimmickry.
In the end, the movie’s bizarre driller killer (Atanas Ilitch) is the real draw. A mixture of Shakin’ Stevens and Billy Idol, his leather-clad rockabilly wields an absurdly ostentatious guitar which doubles up as a giant drill, leading to a series of repetitive kills and inexhaustible references to rock songs from the 1960s as spontaneous bouts of knee-jerking play out like a pop video magazine.
As an exercise in savvy marketing that no doubt spoke to producers. The movie succeeds in appealing to the MTV generation, but with no real plot or characterisation to sink your teeth into, the whole experience seems empty and unfulfilling, and though something tells me this was exactly the point, personally I fail to see the purpose.
Unique, yes, but sometimes Unique just isn’t enough.
All the drill-related deaths are spuriously similar, using compensatory close-ups to disguise the movie’s lack of budget. A scene in a which a victim is drilled through the chest during sex is perhaps the most memorable, but only because the actor in question closely resembles a young Jim Carrey, which to me was the funniest part of the entire movie.
Most Admirable Moment
After the kind of boringly sensual opening that belongs in a softcore sex guide, Brock flips our expectations with a subliminal montage of graphic violence, the first indicator that this movie is about to break all the rules. Quite the audacious concept, one that reminds us that rules are there to be broken, but understanding what not to break is just as admirable, and infinitely more important.
Most Absurd Moment
After hearing her friend Sally complain about an invisible pimple, Courtney has the most ridiculous and ghastly dream of the entire movie, a marvel of practical effects which sees Sally’s head turn into a bubonic bag of puss, one that explodes and gushes all over our heroine like a gooey syrup. Yuk!
The Slumber Party Massacre trilogy is the only trilogy to be directed entirely by women – all of them different. Some have credited the series as a liberating tongue-in-cheek parody of misogyny in slasher movies, while others have damned their efforts as treacherous to the feminist cause.
Slumber Party Massacre II was also one of a small collection of films that was actually rejected for classification by the BBFC for reasons which were never disclosed.
Most Absurd Dialogue
With nothing too memorable beyond the obvious ‘Light My Fire’ and ‘Satisfaction’ lyrical references, here is one example of the kind of confusingly inane dialogue that features throughout.
The Band has just taken part in an unlikely cushion fight which has left their semi-naked bodies covered in feathers.
Sally: You know what you look like?
Shelia: [laughs] What?
Sally: A big chicken!
Shelia: Shmerack! Shmerack! [flaps open bra]