Thursday, July 14, 2016

Episode 12: The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

“How pretty. All of you are...very pretty...”

Don’t you just hate it when things don’t go according to plan?

It was supposed to be an intimate gathering of girls only; a slumber party wherein old friends gorged themselves on junk food, sparked a little Mary Jane, and reminisced about old times. Unfortunately for Trish, our party’s hostess, things start off on the wrong foot. A lecherous neighbor has made himself a little too available, some male classmates show up to pull a prank or two, and Diane, Trish’s closest friend, is more concerned with getting it in (with her horned-up boyfriend, not Trish) than spending quality time with longtime contemporaries. As if poor Trish doesn’t have enough on her plate, an escaped maniac convicted of five brutal slayings has decided to crash their little gathering—with his portable electric drill.

Plans. Makes me wonder why any of us even bother with ‘em. I myself had a plan for this particular episode of B-Movie Bonanza. Since The Slumber Party Massacre has been in my top five horror films for well over two decades and I’ve spent years talking about it at length, I wanted to do something other than yammer on about my obsessive appreciation for the film and the hundreds of times I’ve seen it, as well as its successors. . I do a fair amount of gushing during the actual commentary, but for the blog post accompanying it, I thought it would be interesting to include something different.

As I’m sure you all know, the screenplay for The Slumber Party Massacre (formerly titled Sleepless Night) was penned by feminist author and activist Rita Mae Brown, who made a name for herself in the early 1970s with the publication of her debut novel Rubyfruit Jungle, and throughout the ‘90s with a series of mystery novels centered around cats. In 1997, she released an autobiography entitled Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble Rouser. In this 500-page tome, she delves deep into her personal life. sharing hundreds of stories involving her early years living in the south, the homophobia she later experienced during her college years (when closeted faculty members looked down their noses at students, like Rita, who were comfortable enough in their sexuality to publicly embrace it), a rocky relationship with her aunt and adoptive mother (who were always at odds), as well as high-profile lesbian relationships with tennis pro Martina Malinova.

She also spends a fair amount of time discussing her literary career and, from what I’d been told prior to picking the book up, talks briefly about the original screenplay for what is now known as The Slumber Party Massacre. As far as I know, Rita Mae has never spoken publicly about the film and I’d always been curious about her original intentions, as well as her reaction to the final product. I knew the script was written as a Student Bodies-style parody of the era’s slasher films, but shot in more of a straightforward manner. Other than this microcosm of information, I knew nothing of the movie’s origins. So, I was very excited to read what she’d have to say and planned on including excerpts from the book in this blog. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the book’s mid-point, so I never actually made it to the section devoted to the film.

While Rita Mae’s stories and life experiences are interesting enough, the book rambles on endlessly about her formative years, going into everything without sparing the smallest detail. It was a seemingly endless array of stories, anecdotes, and rites of passage. After a while, I simply couldn’t take it anymore, so I put the book down sans reaching the finish line. From what I’d been told by a previous reader, the Slumber Party passage is quite brief. Even so, I was excited about reading Rita Mae’s memories of this particular endeavor, not to mention sharing this information with devoted fans of the series. However, much like Trish’s ill-fated get-together, things didn’t go according to plan.

Despite my shortcomings, I recorded what I think is a pretty decent commentary, wherein I discuss the usual: how and where I discovered the film, memories of seeing it for the first time, how I obtained my VHS copy, and, believe it or not, how The Slumber Party Massacre has helped in my quest to master the French language. As a source for this commentary, I used the Scream Factory Blu ray edition, which runs 1:16:15. So, get ready to kick back and enjoy the show, because it’s time to revisit “the ultimate driller killer thriller!”

Brandon Ford's B-Movie Bonanza - Episode 12: The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) from Brandon Ford on Vimeo.

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