Saturday, May 5, 2012

Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

... aka: Don't Let Go
... aka: Massacre 2
... aka: Slumber Party Massacre 2
... aka: Slumber Party Massacre: The Sequel

Directed by:
Deborah Brock

While the other two Slumber Party titles are straight-up slice n' dicers (the original with the novelty of a little more comedy than usual), this first sequel seems to take its cue from the supernatural-themed slashers popularized by the Elm Street series. The good news is that it's so bizarre that it almost defies description and manages to stand apart from many similar films. The bad news is that it's frequently irritating as hell to watch and becomes a huge mess by the end (something the last minute attempts to remedy). I have no clue what the director was really shooting for here, but the whole thing seems like some warped parable about losing one's virginity. From a female perspective, naturally.

Only three girls were left standing at the end of the original "massacre:" Trish, the girl who threw the slumber party, Valerie, her next door neighbor, and Courtney, Valerie's nosy kid sister. This centers things around the virginal Courtney (Crystal Bernard, who'd eventually become a TV star on Wings) and how she's coping with things. Judging by the fact her pleasant dreams about a would-be boyfriend running around in slow motion shirtless are always interrupted by visions of blood and death, none too well it seems. Still, she's doing better than her sister (Cynthia Eilbacher), who's currently residing in a mental asylum. It's no wonder Courtney's mother (Jennifer Rhodes) has kept her girl on a tight leash during her formative years.

Courtney plays in a band with three of her high school friends: guitarist Amy (Playboy Playmate Kimberly McArthur), singer / guitarist Sheila (Juliette Cummins) and drummer / song writer Sally (Heidi Kozak). Sheila's wealthy dad has just bought a condo in a developing area still under construction. The girls decide to spend the weekend there to party and work on their music, and through some begging (and a birthday conveniently falling on an upcoming Sunday), Courtney's able to get her strict mother to agree to let her go. The first night there is filled with the usual slumber party shenanigans, such as pigging out, guzzling champagne, laughing and having slow-motion topless pillow fights. Sheila's incredibly annoying boyfriend T.J. (Joel Hoffman) and his friend Jeff (Scott Westmoreland) stop by. And so does the man of Courtney's dreams. Well actually, both of them. The nice guy football player she has a crush on (Patrick Lowe) and the Elvis-looking 50s-style leather-clad rocker (Atanis Ilitch) who's been haunting her nightmares.

Just typing out the plot description makes me realize that more thought probably went into this film than meets the eye. The virgin is faced with two distinct male archetypes of who she might lose her virtue to: the sweet, sensitive guy who's thoughtful enough to bring her a cake for her birthday and is there to lend an ear when she thinks she's losing her mind, and the aggressive, tongue-wagging bad boy who only seems to want in her pants and licks her blood off his fingers. Courtney has strange hallucinations involving her sister telling her "Don't go all the way!," imagines her hamburger is a severed hand and that her friend's face turns into a giant, puss oozing zit. A chicken leaps out of the refrigerator and attacks her, and her relaxing bubble bath quickly turns into a bloodbath (her period?). Eventually, the nightmare man materializes in 'real life' brandishing a giant drill guitar and speaking in rock song cliché ("I can't get no... satisfaction!," "Come on baby... light my fire!") to kill everyone off, taking time out from his killing spree to perform a musical number ("Let's Buzz"). The ending - sort of - explains all of the weirdness.

I'm not so sure that all of this really works, much of the humor is lame and the whole thing is pretty frustrating to sit through, but it's still more interesting to watch than most other slasher flicks. Interestingly, this is by far the goriest film in this series, but it also has the least amount of nudity (which is relegated to just one scene). Roger Corman was the executive producer and it was released (along with the other two Slumber titles) on DVD by Concorde / New Horizons. Followed by the more by-the-numbers SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III (1990) and a belated, shot-on-video fourth installment, which was filmed as Slumber Party Massacre IV but released as Cheerleader Massacre (2002). The fact the latter was directed by the estimable Jim Wynorski meant that any pretense of subtext was removed in favor of gratuitous T&A.

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