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CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

Slumber Party Massacre II Deborah Brock 1987

Heavy on the Slum, Light on the Party

A low-rent, shapeless, ugly movie that wears stylistic flourishes like a warthog in a bonnet, Slumber Party Massacre II is a Nightmare on Elm Street knockoff that makes up for in sheer weirdness what it lacks in coherence, suspense, and production value. Plus, any movie featuring a candy-assed rockabilly dream-killer with a guitar drill is certainly worth seeing at least once.

Crystal Bernard (best known for her turn on It’s a Living, an equally low-rent sitcom tha co-starred Ann Jillian -- and was therefore one of the hottest shows in the history of television -- and Wings) plays Courtney Bates, younger sister of the original’s hero, Val, and one of the few survivors of the bloodbath at the Craven house years ago (although in the original the decidedly sex-piggish character was played by Jennifer Meyers, who vanished from the face of the earth after that single role). Val’s out of commish at the local looneybin (the original Val, Robin Stille, was likely shooting Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama at the same time), so Courtney takes center-stage as a VOCID (Victim of Crime Involving Drills) teen just trying to meet boys, get tan, and play in her girl-rock band. Pretty basic, right?

Well, not for long: it seems that Courtney is plagued by memories of the massacre that are interrupting her beauty sleep and generally putting her on edge. Well, that’s not entirely true – as she wasn’t actually present for most of the murders in the first film (she hangs out at home wanking to Playgirl for most of the movie), she’s technically plagued by memories of the first movie, which she likely watched half-heartedly in preparation for this role. So we see her having flashbacks to things she never saw in the first place, mixed in with images of a leering loony (Atanas Ilich) in some sort of smoke-machined netherworld (cue Nightmare on Elm Street references). Her well-meaning but wet-blanket mother (Jennifer Rhodes, best known for her “Veronica… Dinner!” in Heathers) is simultaneously smothering and completely emotionally inaccessible (cue more NOES references), doing little to improve the situation.

But Courtney does glean some genuine satisfaction from playing in a wretched rock band with her friends Sally (Heidi Kozak of Friday 7, as the ditz), Sheila (Juliette Cummins of the fabulous Click: the Calendar Girl Murders and Friday 5, as the rich sex-fiend) and Amy (Kimberly McArthur, Playboy’s Miss January, 1982, as… the good girl, oddly). The chicks like to hang out in the garage, drink Slice, and play their music for local hunks like Matt (Patrick Lowe, easily one of the blandest love interests in history, despite the fact that he has his shirt off for half of the film). When Sheila’s dad buys a new condo on a golf course (in theory – it looks like the middle of the desert to me), the girls plan a secret slumber party in the empty place so they can cut loose and rehearse.

Naturally, things don’t go as planned, and with Courntey’s increasingly bizarre dreams and waking hallucinations (my favorite is easily the whole frozen chicken that attacks her in the kitchen), tensions rise in Shangri-La (it also doesn’t help that two of the girls’ patently retarded boyfriends have arrived). No one seems to believe or really care that Courtney is obviously going completely Margot Kidder: their advice of “take a nap” or “have a hot bath” is about as helpful as a Farmer’s Almanac as the mystery rockabilly stalker seems to be getting closer and closer to bursting through the 4th dimension and entering reality. After a bloody bathtub vision (thanks, NOES) and a hilarious killer zit hallucination (Sally’s face looks like Pizza the Hut from Spaceballs), Courtney ignores the only good advice she’s gotten (from a dream of her sister, who urged her not to “go all the way”) and porks Matt, granting the Gay Elvis entry into our dimension.

Again, that’s not entirely true – Courtney doesn’t even get close to “going all the way”, unless she’s Mormon or something. In fact, they’re just kissing when the boot-scootin’ baddie plunges his guitar drill through Matt’s hairless torso. Not quite sure what the flexibility is on this kind of rule in the interdimensional codebook, but I seriously think this guy jumped the gun. Anyway, things understandably go from bad to worse as the rest of the kids are dispatched by the killer, even the goodie-goodie Amy, who, despite being what seems like a genuinely nice person, gets the worst of it by being chased, sliced repeatedly in the back, and eventually knocked off a building. Not much of an argument for being good, which is odd, considering that the overriding message of the film was ostensibly not to go all the way. A bit muddled, as sex-fear metaphors go, but hey – there’s a guy dancing with a drill!

Which brings me around to our driller killer, who is easily the stupidest villain in the entire slasher genre (or the dream-killer genre, for that matter). Complete with musical numbers, faux-Elvis pompadour, head-to-toe leather, and an annoying propensity to dance, the killer is about as scary as Liberace with a power tool. Actually, less. I don’t know what in the hell writer/director Deborah Brock was smoking when she came up with this character, but whatever it was, I think it was laced. Failing as humorous, entertaining, or scary, the killer comes across like your least-favorite American Idol contestants – you know, the ones who never stop soft-shoeing and singing in public and ultimately just invite hatred, aggression, and ridicule. The ones you hope trip on the steps and break their fucking kneecaps or get hit in the face with a bat. The killer does engage in some gender-bending antics (tucking a flower behind his ear like a senorita) and even goes so far as to wink and blow a kiss to one of the boys as he's drilling him. But I'm ignoring potential gay tipoffs because... we don't want him! He's the slasher genre's version of Kevin Spacey -- sure, we all know he's gay, but really -- we're better off without him. Let them keep him. Really.

The movie actually gets less interesting when the killer’s around, which is a tough feat for a horror film to pull off. This is due equally to the fact that the killer is painfully annoying and to an assortment of white-hot late-80’s set pieces that walk away with the movie. Aside from the aforementioned Slice product placement (which the soda giant would likely pay to have removed from this film); there’s a mind-numbingly awful pop tune, “Tokyo Convertible” (oddly, a song by the same name and similar lyrics appears on Don Johnson’s album with the band Roving Boy, “The Simple Truth”), which we have the pleasure of watching Bernard sing for at least 3 whole minutes in a car; there’s your standard lezzie-slumber-party strip dance (although this one ups the ante by adding a poledance with a halogen floor-lamp and a champagne wet-t-shirt contest); and there's enough horrific California fashion to make you dizzy.

Thanks to these off-the-wall elements and the grounded performances of the 4 leads (they’re all pretty likeable and are treated with a fair amount of respect by the script and director), Slumber Party Massacre II is, while a pale shadow of the original, a pretty amusing watch nonetheless. Guaranteed to put the last nail in the lid of anyone’s "I Hate Rockabilly" coffin, and certainly a bright spot in the film career of the likeable Ms. Bernard.

Rating (out of 5):