Monday, December 21, 2009

Slumber Party 57 (1976)

AKA Teenage Slumber Party
Directed by William Levey
Starring Janet Wood, Noelle North, Debra Winger, Rainbeaux Smith
Rated R
"First time, here I come!"

Director Levey has a pretty spectacular resume, stacked high with late 70's scuzz and high 80's cheese. He helmed the infamous square-headed Blackenstein (1973), cheapo sci-fi sex epic Wham Bam Thank You Spaceman (1975), The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977), starring 60's sex kitten and future topless disco star Joey Heatherton, and the godawful roller-discosploitation epic Skatetown USA (1979), among others. He also wrote 1984's Night Patrol, which featured the immortal triple-threat of Linda Blair, Billy Barty, and the Unknown Comic. A wild-eyed, dimestore visionary operating during one of American pop culture's lowest ebbs, Levey somehow managed to carve out a solid career working with threadbare budgets, ridiculous scripts, and a ramshackle collection of desperate psuedo-celebrities and creaky has-beens. He deserves his own movie. William Levey, King of Garbage. If you are out there, sir, drop me a line. It's time your tawdry tale was told.

Slumber Party '57 is one of Levey's more obscure works, which, given his track record (Hellgate, anyone?) is really saying something. A teen sex comedy set in the late 1950's, it was clearly influenced by the success of the similarly themed American Graffiti (1973) and Happy Days (1974), and it paved the way for Sweater Girls (1978), Porky's (1982), Losin' It (1983), and all the other faux-50's/60's hornball flicks. However, unlike the majority of those films, Slumber Party '57 is an incoherent, episodic, nearly plotless mess that would be very rough-going were it not for its remarkable, good-looking cast, and it's wonderfully sleazy tone.

A group of bored high school girls (in reality, everyone was well into their 20's) get together for a slumber party. After frolicking topless in the pool, they settle in for the night, exchanging stories about their 'first times'. Each girl's deflowering is exhibited in a series of cheap and dirty flashbacks.

Backwoods cutie Bonny May (Bridget Holloman, Evils of the Night) and her moonshine brewing beau barely escape the clutches of 'revenuers' in an old timey, Roger Corman-esque car chase before slipping quietly into the drive-in and making sweet late 50's love while Boris Karloff's Cauldron of Blood (1970 release, but who's counting?) unspools on the screen.

Angie (voice-over actress Noelle North), seduces one of her parents' middle-aged friends (Will Hutchins) on her sixteenth birthday. The already scuzzball scene goes right over the top when her monster-faced dad (Bill Thurman, RIP) barges in and spanks his bare-assed teenage daughter. "You little cunt!" Grunts dad, while he swats Angie's quivering butt-cheeks. Angie, meanwhile, smiles wickedly, having just realized she sorta likes being spanked by her father. If that's not a queasy enough scene for you, the rest of the girls readily agree with her. "Getting spanked by my dad does kinda hurt, sure," says Debby (future Urban Cowboy star Debra Winger), "But it's also kinda hot."

Wait, what? Who the fuck are these people?

Debby eats a banana while her boyfriend Buddy (Randy Ralston) beats up a bunch of bikers at the beach. Impressed with this manly display, Debby balls him in the backseat of his convertible. Celebrity Skin fans will be pleased that Miss Winger let her ample sweater-puppies loose for this scene, although the DVD (and the VHS, where I believe the DVD was sourced from) is a little too fuzzy to make out the finer details of said famous boobs.

Back in the present, Sherry (70's B-Goddess Rainbeaux Smith, RIP) races - and beats - a wildly vamping Mexican gang-member (Rafeal Compos, The Doll Squad. Also RIP) in a drag race. "Fast Martha" (Robin Mills) waves the starting flag. Well, she has no flag, so she just shakes her tits. Same thing.

Flashback time again. Smitty (Janet Wood, Russ Meyer's Up!) has sex with stable-boy David (Bryan Englund, who also happens to be Cloris Leachman's son. True story.) on a pile of hay in a barn while his topless sister Hank (Janice Karman, instantly recognizable from her role as Bunny in Switchblade Sisters) sits in a couple feet away, licking her lips and flicking at her nipples.

"I thought I'd died and went to Heaven," Smitty tells her friends. Holy smokes, what a slutty gang of girls!

Then the girls thwart a cat burglar (omnipresent 70's/80's character actor Larry Gelman) and call the cops. Seeing at this mess is supposed to occur in 1957, Car 54 gets the call. A 60-something Joe E Ross shows up to huff and puff around the joint, chasing the bad guy. Hilarity ensues.

Finally, aspiring actress Joanne (Mary Appleseth) has a quickie with an aging 'movie star'(Victor Rogers, RIP) on the hanky-panky filled set of a Tarzan film. Afterward, the natives chuck her into a pot with vegetables and make soup out of her. Really.

And then, as they always do, a group of horny rabble-rousers crash the slumber party. How'd they find about it? Sherry made a deal with them. Seems that she's the only virgin in the gang, so she told "Larry and the guys" they could crash the party if they promised to gang-bang her.

Here's the thing, though. As Sherry dutifully tromps upstairs to get violated by five dudes, the rest of the girls admit to each other that they made all those stories up. They're all virgins, too. What a mix-up!

Can/will they stop her in time?


Slumber Party '57 is full of historical inaccuracies - most of the songs on the soundtrack are from the early 1960's - and it often drags as it weaves drunkenly along from one fuzzy flashback to another. But it's got such a high 'What the fuck?' factor that you cannot help but to keep watching, right until the final (and sorta shocking) shot. It's not exactly fun, but it's remarkably pervy stuff, and the cast is littered with classic 70's B-girls, all of whom (except, shockingly, Smith, who was naked nearly constantly in the 70's) doff tops and drop trousers for the cause.

So, it's pretty mandatory stuff, really.

- Ken McIntyre

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