Thursday, May 14, 2009

Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

Directed by Deborah Brock
Starring Crystal Bernard, Kimberly McArthur, Heidi Kozak, Juliette Cummins
Rated R

"My burger is weird."

1982's Slumber Party Massacre was notable not for its slasher conventions (penis-shaped murder weapon, shower scene, plucky final girl), but for its sly humor and feminist slant. Written and directed by Rita Mae Brown as a parody of teenhorror, the film's producers insisted that director Amy Jones shoot it as a straight-ahead slice n' dicer, which resulted in the film's unique mix of queasy laughs and bloody murder. While it is no classic, the original Slumber Party Massacre did, at least, have a point of view. Its barely coherent follow-up, however, can boast no such claims. It's just mindless, overwrought garbage. Too-weird-to-ignore garbage, but slop nonetheless.

Slumber Party Massacre II opens, conveniently, with a flashback to the first movie. It comes at you in a blurry rush of disconnected images, and then it abruptly ends with screaming.

Courtney (Crystal Bernard, immediately recognizable as the chick-from-Wings) is the younger sister of Valerie, Slumber Party Massacre's final girl. Courtney's been having bad dreams about the incident again - hence the flashback - but she pluckily heads for school in her suspenders and high-waisted pleated pants anyway.

Her friend Amy (Kimberly McArthur, Malibu Express) picks her up, and on the way, they meet up with hunky, pushing-30, convertible driving sensitive-dude Matt (Patrick Lowe), who clearly likes Courtney. Our girl is to shy to act, however, so Amy tells him to come by their friend Sheila's garage after school, because they'll be jammin'. They have a band, see.

The prospect of an all-girl band is always exciting. Until you hear the band*. This one is a sub-Bangles jangle-pop, complete with awkward, shuffling dance moves. It's pretty painful. Sheila (Juliette Cummins, Psycho III) sings, Sally (Heidi Kozak) is the drummer, and Courtney and Amy play guitar and bass. Matt digs it, even if you don't.

Rehearsal over, Sheila asks if anybody wants a drink.
"Yeah," says Sally. Can you get me a Slice?"
How's that for 80's-centric product placement?

Sheila's dad bought a new condo - dunno why, sounds like trouble at Sheila's house - and the girls plan on staying there for the weekend to practice and party. Courtney invites Matt to go with her. Matt says yes, and the girls all celebrate with an ice cold Slice.

Of course, Courtney hasn't asked her mom for permission yet. When she does, her mom suggests that they visit Valerie at ye olde asylum instead. Courtney avoids the subject, but when they're cleaning up, she accidentally breaks a dish and then starts crying.
"Mom," she says, "Sunday is my birthday, and I don't want to go to a mental hospital."

Man, I've been there, Courtney.
Mom relents, finally, and the hustle is on.

That night, Courtney has awesome/weird dreams about the weekend. On the one hand, she's making out with Matt. On the other, body parts and blood are flying everywhere. In her dream, Valerie begs Courtney not to go. And then a greasy ShaNaNa castoff (Atanas Ilitch) shows up and says "Rock N' Roll never dies!"

So, it was a mixed bag, as far as dreams go.

The girls get to the condo and proceed to drink wine and eat Cheez Whiz and corn dogs, exchange some really lame dialogue (I think they improvised it), watch Rock N' Roll High School (this was a Concorde movie, after all), and then dance around suggestively/awkwardly to a droning rockabilly song that no one in their right mind would dance to. Sheila douses everybody with champagne and then pops her top off. Then she jiggles her boobs, which was pretty good. And then they have a pillow fight.

Two of the asshole boyfriends show up, and spy on 'em through the window.
"I didn't know girls really did this stuff!" says TJ (Joel Hoffman, Pumpkinhead).
"It's because we're dead," says Jeff (Scott Westmoreland),"And this is heaven."

TJ and Jeff sneak in the back door and pretend to be murderers. So that's funny.

That night, Courtney has a dream about the rocker guy again. He wears a leather jacket with big collars and fringe, like Andrew Dice Clay, and he chases her around with his driller-killer guitar. Courtney wakes up on the kitchen floor. Then she puts on a bikini and complains about a headache, so TJ, that ratfink, throws her in the pool. She totally freaks out. Later on, she opens the fridge and a headless, plucked chicken attacks her. Then she decides to take a bubble bath - the worst idea ever, given the circumstances - and of course, she hallucinates that blood is pouring out of the faucet. Sally comes up to help her out, and then the pimple on her cheek explodes in a torrent of pus that splashes all over Courtney.

Sally disappears, and everyone at first assumes Courtney's just crazy, but then they hear a weird crunching sound inside the trash compactor, and no one remembers turning it on. So, they call the cops, and the John Saxon-ish Officer Krueger (Michael Delano) and his partner, Officer Voorhies (yes, everybody has groan-worthy horror film names) show up to check it out. The cops listen to Courtney's crazy-girl blathering and agree to check things out, but then a perfectly-fine Sally comes strolling in to the house. She was at the store buying Oxy 10 the whole time. The cops leave in a huff, and everybody else splits too, leaving Courtney and Matt in the house alone.
Oh yeah, Matt showed up at some point.
He gives her a birthday cake, but she cries.
"You must think I'm the weirdest person in the world," she whines.
"No, I just think you're a sensitive person who had something bad happen to them when they were little," he says.

This guy will go a long way to bang the chick from Wings, man.

Everybody else comes home from wherever the fuck they were and start jammin' on the guitars while, upstairs, Courtney and Matt start to get it on. Suddenly, the Diceman shows up with his driller-killer guitar and messily guts Matt. By the way, there is virtually no explanation for this dude. He is not the same killer from the first movie. His journey from Courtneyl's dreams to the condo suggests a Freddy Krueger-esque origin, but we are never clued into where he came from or why he's chosen our already-stressed heroine as his vessel to the real world. Anyway, the garage-band ruckus drowns out Courtney's screams, and the kids are caught unawares when he comes storming down the stairs with his death-guitar. He starts slicing and dicing Courtney's friends, and when she calls Officer Krueger, he doesn't want to hear about it.

Meanwhile, the killer guy dances and sings a very lame and painful rockabilly number called "Let's Buzz".

I would call this bit a serious misfire.

After ten minutes' worth of stalking and slashing, Courtney dispatches the bad guy pretty effortlessly.

And then there's like 11 false endings after that.

It is important to note to younger readers that we weren't that fuckin' stupid back in the 80's. Nobody dressed like this or listened to this kind of music. All this just popped into Deborah Brock's head, and she went for it. Maybe drugs were involved, I can't say.

There are many reasons why we should just forget all about Slumber Party Massacre II and just move on, but the cringe-worthy music, Courtney's eye-scraping outfits, the flood-of-pus scene, and the sheer inexpliciblity of the guitar killer dude keep it alive, generation after bewildered generation. It was followed by an even-worse threequel, and awaits the inevitable hip-hop/screamo remake.

clip: In all its (in)glory, here's the full pillow fight scene!

Availability: Slumber Party Massacre II is available on DVD.

- Ken McIntyre

* Not always true. Just mostly.

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