"The Slumber Party Massacre," a despicable stalk-and-slash exercise currently at a dozen area theaters, proves not only that blood tends to flow more freely than fresh ideas in that genre, but that an equal-opportunity employer can also be an equal-opportunity exploiter.
"Massacre" was written by feminist writer Rita Mae Brown and directed by Amy Jones, moving behind the camera for the first time after editing several Roger Corman features. One hopes Brown did it for the money, because there is not a single line or plot device in the film that suggests a feminist viewpoint or intelligence. Even the title sets up a typically misogynist mentality: Because it's a slumber party, most of the victims will be women.
"Massacre" was reported shot for $250,000 -- less than most half-hour TV shows -- and it shows in the bare-bones plot, the minimal acting abilities of an unknown cast, and the repetitive methods of dispatch.
As the opening credits unfold, a newspaper headline blares "Mass Murderer of 5: Russ Thorn Escapes," a high school girl's parents leave for the weekend and she decides to have a slumber party. Meanwhile, Thorn (played with bug-eyed somnolence by Michael Vilella) warms up with a couple of killings and then parks himself under the front porch and starts working on a new record. His principal weapon is an electric drill with a three-foot bit -- a piece of phallic symbolism somewhat lacking in subtlety. Thorn eventually kills six girls, four boys and one man before several nice-girls-as-vengeful-survivors get even; like the Shape that won't die in "Halloween," though, it's not over without two or three false endings, all badly conceived. And we never do learn Thorn's motive.
There's abundant nudity in the film's early setting in a girl's shower room, where the basketball team looks like it was recruited from the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. There's a lot of casual conversation hinting at violence ("Oh, she'll just kill me," etc., etc.). There's even some humor, but precious little of it.
Otherwise, "Massacre" is a formula slasher film, with more false startles than most, segues that make no sense, below-average gruesome effects and every cliche'd encounter imaginable. There's even a weak rip of the "Halloween" musical theme, but "Massacre" is all trick and no treat. The whole thing is a bit we've seen before, dulled by uninspired writing and directing.