Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Slumber Party Massacre III (1990)

... aka: Night Light
... aka: Slumber Party Massacre 3
... aka: Stab in the Dark

Directed by:
Sally Mattison

Entry three in this popular slasher series delivers precisely what anyone who'd be inclined to watch something called Slumber Party Massacre in the first place would want to see: attractive young ladies showing some skin before getting massacred. Since each of these involved a male psycho brandishing a large, high-powered drill, the first was written by feminist author Rita Mae Brown as a spoof on the slasher cycle (though so much was changed from Brown's original script she ultimately disowned the project) and all were made by female directors, much has been made of the phallic symbolism of the killer's weapon. The "driller killer" in this third installment is a good-looking, clean cut ladies man who is unable to "perform" because he was sexually abused by his uncle as a child. And thus, his weapon is how he vents pent up sexual frustration and the only way he's able to really "drill" anybody. Mind you, none of that is carried out in a clever, amusing or intelligent way here, but the potential was certainly there for more than what any of these titles actually deliver.

Blonde beach bunny Jackie (Keely Christian) and her high school pals are playing volleyball when they notice "The Weirdo" (Yan Birch) staring at them. Brushing it off, they decide to call it a day, but one of the girls is ambushed in her car on the way out and drilled through the seat. Guess who's gonna be a no-show at the slumber party? In case you're not up on your obvious red herrings, "The Weirdo," weird-o as he may be, is just one of many utterly ridiculous and useless suspects the film introduces to us. Another is Morgan (Michael Harris), Jackie's pervy hippie neighbor, who breaks into her home while she's out and later will be keeping tabs on the girls through his trusty telescope. And by keeping tabs, I mean watching them dance and change clothes. Nope, not him either. Because both the DVD and VHS boxes and the trailer have no problem revealing who the killer is, I guess I shouldn't give two hoots about it either. It's Ken (Brittain Frye). Since Ken isn't wearing a hockey mask and doesn't have long hair, I reckon the filmmakers thought we'd be surprised to see an upstanding young man clad in a button-up dress shirt and khaki's running around slicing up half-naked chicks.

During the girls' get together, they do what all women do when they're hanging out: eat high-calorie junk food, suck down beer, gossip, listen through the door while the others are having sex and dance around topless. There are only two names amongst the cast that require singling out. The first is Hope Marie Carlton, a Playboy Playmate best known to horror fans as the naked girl in the waterbed from the fourth Elm Street film. Strangely enough, and despite appearing naked in nearly everything else she did, Hope manages to get through this film with her clothes on. The nude duties are left to an unknown actress named Lulu Wilson and (our second "name" on the cast roster) Maria Ford, a favorite of producer Roger Corman and late-night cable junkies. There's something very sweet about Ford's voice and demeanor, so she seems miscast as the "bad girl" of the group. She'd have made a much better choice for Jackie than the actress actually playing her. Either way, it's Maria Ford and she's always an asset to whatever film she's in, even when stuck wearing a wig that looks like it was dug out of Elvira's trash bin. Now back to that slumber party massacre...

While the girls are doing their thing (which is basically sitting around looking bored), a few guys sneak over wearing monster masks to scare them. Ken shows up next. When he can't perform for Juliette (Wilson) he decides to electrocute her in the bathtub instead. Not content with the usual hair dryer or radio, he instead opts for a vibrator that Juliette found in a drawer, plugged in and left sitting on the sink for no good reason. Others are killed in a variety of ways, some of them creative. Aside from the death-by-vibrator, I particularly liked the death by "House For Sale" sign. Someone else is killed with a swordfish through the mouth. Another gets his legs cut off with a chainsaw, but manages to crawl all the way back to the house from several blocks away in a matter of minutes. A pizza delivery girl (Marta Kober, of FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART 2 fame) and numerous others are drilled. None of the moronic characters are bright enough to figure out how to leave a house. They also have plenty of opportunities to take out the killer, but insist on running away any time they get him down. The psycho manages to survive attacks with a fruit bowl, table lamp and polo mallet, plus bleach to the eyes and getting shot with a harpoon. When one girl wonders why the unconscious killer is breathing funny, another hilariously responds "Well, we hit him over the head a lot!" During Ford's prolonged death scene, her "friends" stand around and watch as she pleads for her life while the killer strips off her clothes off and drills her. Gee, thanks a lot, pals!

Brainless as this all is, it's never boring. SPM3 (which was released by Concorde / New Horizons on both DVD and VHS) is fast-paced, frequently very funny (often unintentionally so - but whatever) and has plenty of blood and a high body count. I also really dig the end theme song "Twist and Scream" by Jamie Sheriff.



spookyx3 said...

yes! maria ford is in peril while distracting the killer and nobody goes for the drill. they cut back to reveal the remaining girls have been standing by the door/window in silence for the last three minutes. stupid.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I just did a little research into this particular scene and why it seems so bizarre...

1. According to the trivia on IMDb (which I'd need another source to verify but think sounds pretty legit): "The death of "Maria" was a re-shoot. The director did not approve but agreed as it was a direct order from Roger Corman. Knowing this also helps explain continuity errors in the film. For example, as Maria is attacked the three other girls rush to aid, but presumably just stand there and watch her be molested and murdered while doing nothing. Originally after falling to the floor she was immediately killed (as evident in the long shot of her murder. Maria's dress is still on.)"

2. According to the director herself: "The first cut of the film ran short, so we shot an extra scene and added it in -- the scene where Maria gets killed. I believe that version was what was released theatrically and on video."

I guess when you think about it that really does explain the scene. Maria's nightie really IS miraculously back on in the long shot after she's killed. I could also definitely see Corman wanting a bit more blood and nudity and thus having the director re-film this to be more explicit.

spookyx3 said...

thanks. that odd, obtrusive scene is my favorite thing in the film.

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