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Blu-ray Review: 'The Slumber Party Massacre'

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The Film:

The 70s and 80s saw a whole slew of low-budget slasher films that tried to bank off of the success of the most popular entries in the genre such as “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th.” Unfortunately, most of these were just really cheesy knockoffs where filmmakers thought that all they had to do was put several teenagers in a situation in which they could easily be killed off. This led to such uninspired attempts as “The Slumber Party Massacre,” where the premise is simply that a group of teenagers are having a party while an escaped mental patient is on the loose. Do you want to take a guess where he ends up? Lots of murder and mayhem ensues as he picks off the group one by one with a power drill, leaving us to wonder if anyone will be able to stop this maniac.

As a big fan of slasher films, I’ve seen quite a lot of them, and with so much experience it quickly becomes evident when a film of the genre is doing it right and when one is just a pale imitation. Sadly, writer Rita Mae Brown and director Amy Jones thought, as many others did at the time, that you could create a passable slasher film by just sticking to the formula mentioned earlier, but the problem with that is that it merely creates an extremely generic entry in the genre because it has nothing memorable about it. The all-time great slasher films all had something more to them. “Halloween” had a killer that was the embodiment of evil. “Friday the 13th” had an intriguing mystery as to who was committing the murders at Camp Crystal Lake. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” had a killer stalking teenagers in their dreams.

“The Slumber Party Massacre” has nothing of the sort, instead featuring an incredibly generic escaped mental patient as the killer. With nothing to make it stand out from the multitude of other slasher films that came out around the same time, it’s no surprise that this became forgotten just like many others. It’s true that they meant this as more of a satire of the genre, and indeed there are a few parts that could be considered funny in a black comedy kind of way, but that still doesn’t help lift it out of the blandness it creates by knocking the film down to the simple basics. By the time it hits the end of its brief 76-minute runtime, chances are you won’t remember a thing about it.

Video/Audio:

“The Slumber Party Massacre” is presented in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that looks practically new again. This transfer was remastered from the original camera negative, removing much of the grit and fuzziness (examples of which we can see in the extras), leaving behind a picture that looks absolutely incredible. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio is likewise excellent, allowing for every little sound to come through in perfect clarity. As usual, Shout! Factory has done a great job bringing a relatively obscure film back from the dead and making it look as fresh as the day it was first released.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Director Amy Holden Jones and Actors Michael Villela and Debra De Liso: It’s not a completely terrible commentary track, but they don’t really have anything interesting to say, spending much of the time reminiscing about the duller side of the production. Easily skipable.

Sleepless Nights: The Making of The Slumber Party Massacre: About 20 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew discussing how the film came about and their experiences working on it. It’s a decent look behind the scenes that’s worth watching.

Interview with Rigg Kennedy: A completely pointless interview with the man who played the neighbor. He clearly doesn’t have much to say, and in fact, spends much of the time reading his poetry instead of talking about the film. Skip it.

Conclusion:

This release seems rather lacking in extras when compared to other Shout! Factory releases, but it’s hardly surprising. What else could one possibly say about a simplistic slasher film like “The Slumber Party Massacre” that couldn’t be said in a commentary or “Making of” featurette? It’s fair to say that the film has garnered something of a cult reputation, but nothing like its much more famous brethren. Fans of the genre will find very little to appreciate here, while those who aren’t fans will find even less. Unless you’re desperately looking for a little T&A and blood, then it’s best to stay away from this party.

Score: 2.5/5

Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.

Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Inside Llewyn Davis, In Fear, Oldboy (2013), Cold Comes the Night, Gravity, Mr. Nobody, The Americans: Season One, Hellbenders, Rocky: Heavyweight Collection, Chicago: Diamond Edition, All is Lost, Austenland, How I Live Now, Night of the Demons, Witchboard, Dallas Buyers Club, The Fifth Estate, Captain Phillips, You're Next, A Single Shot, Insidious: Chapter 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Now playing in theaters: Pompeii, Labor Day, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Also be sure to check out my lists of the Best and Worst Films of 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.

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