Slumber Party Massacre III 1990 Review
Slumber Party Massacre Part III 1990
Directed by: Sally Mattison
Starring: Keely Christian, Brandi Burkett, Maria Ford
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I feel a bit strange posting a review of Slumber Party Massacre III. It’s mainly because I’ve never covered the first chapter, which is one of the biggest and most popular slasher movies of all time. Still I watched this one more recently and I decided that none of you would really care or even notice the chronological order of which I work through the series and so I took them from behind. (Oooh yeh!)
I’ll go in to this in more detail when I get round to tackling Amy Jones’ cheese and marinara extravaganza that launched the franchise, but I always felt that it was one of those movies that was blessed with a reputation that was built upon the back of a Brontosaurus. What do I mean by that I hear you ask? Well it became successful based on elements or an element that didn’t actually exist in reality. Or in other words, it gained a legion of imitators and a legendary status whilst not really bringing anything new to the template. Oh, you didn’t know that Brontosauruses were frauds? Well, you learn something new every day my friends…
A young girl decides to enjoy the final hours of having her parent’s house to herself by inviting some friends over for a slumber party. Before long, their boyfriend’s gate crash and the frolics begin to flow. Little do they know that a psychopath is amongst them and he’s brought a large power tool along for the ride…
Let’s be honest with each other here; Part II was as good as a single’s disco in Pripyat town centre and the series really needed to up the quality levels if it wanted to sign off in style. In the end, they did what everyone that’s having a bit of a visionary nightmare should do when the chips are down… went back to basics. By doing so they created not only the strongest entry of the entire trilogy, but also one of the best slasher movies of the late eighties/early nineties.
Número tres doesn’t play by the rules of either of its predecessors and instead begins as something of a mystery/whodunit. Not a huge amount of time or effort is spent on disguising the identity of the nut job though and he reveals himself about halfway through, which allows for a pulsating final rout. Instead of him waiting around for victims as they wander off to do something stupid like making out in a deserted place or searching for a missing friend, he just confronts and goes after the remaining five or six as a group and it’s something that we don’t get to see often enough. It also allows the stranded girls to work together in conjunction to save themselves when the maniac finally traps one of them alone. This leads to a gobsmacking moment when sexy semi-scream queen Maria Ford’s character, Maria, who had fought valiantly to protect two of her buddies moments earlier, is slowly murdered whilst those same ‘friends’ watch on without doing anything to help. No fair! I’ll come back to that scene in a bit.
For the first slaughter, which happens after only eight-minutes, the maniac remains off screen, but for the next couple he dons an awesome guise that’s exceptionally creepy. One of the things that I thought was weak about part one was the fact that the killer looked like such an ordinary guy. So much had been borrowed already from John Carpenter’s Halloween that I was somewhat disappointed that they settled on a bogeyman in a denim jacket and jeans. Thankfully, this time around we get a full-on masked, power-tool clenching nut job and in effect, the complete slasher package.
Whilst SPM 3 can hardly be classified as a gross out classic, it does have a few extremely brutal murders and the film feels credibly menacing when compared against the two earlier efforts that share its branding. The comedic slant has been lessened to an almost bare minimum and an eerie score from Jamie Sheriff builds some credible tension. Director Sally Mattison does well to enlighten the tone on only the rarest of occasions and the feeling of dread remains consistently strong all the way through. Aside from a couple of flat shots that I felt could have been more creative, she did a solid job on her debut and pulled off some decent stuff. It’s interesting, because the SPM series are famous for having female screenwriters and directors, but you’d never in a million years guess that was the case by what you see on the screen here. Some of these chicks get a pretty horrific time, especially Maria in the scene that I said I’d come back to earlier. After being pinned down, stripped and sexually assaulted (almost raped) whilst her friends just stand there and look, she’s disemboweled by a power drill after begging for her life. It’s pretty grim to be honest and not what I’d have expected.
We cut away from the action now and then to a bumbling cop who ignores various calls from the girls and thinks that they’re just having a drunken party. This is of course is the most basic and simple screenwriting method of removing the chance of any armed-police attending the scene. Midway through, he introduces a plot-branch about a cop that had committed suicide very recently. Then we learn immediately after, that the father of Jackie, the likely heroine, is a successful lawyer. I was sure from that chain of events that we were going to be given a really good back-story and motive that unraveled more as the flick came to a close. I mean why else put those sequences in that order? Was it an investigation from Jackie’s dad that forced the cop to kill himself? Did he leave behind an orphaned deranged killer that’s seeking revenge on the lawman’s daughter and her friends? It seemed fairly logical by what we had seen to expect something along those lines, but what we got was; well, not quite what we’d been promised.
It looks as if they rushed the back-story parts and left one too many loose ends. I mean, who was the long-haired guy from the beach? Why did he climb into the basement? What was it exactly about the uncle? Was he an abuser? Was that sexually or psychologically? Is the girl watching this with me really not wearing any knickers? Well at least one of those I can find the answer to, but the rest are ongoing mysteries. Excuse me, ahem…
Still, whining aside, as far as slasher movies go, this is a rip roaring one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of the reasons that I fell in love with the genre in the first place. Cheesy pop-rock tracks, beautifully dumb women, awful acting, a threatening masked killer, some effective scares, oh and Marta Kober! Did I tell you that the busty brunette that got speared in Friday Part II turns up for a cameo and gets a pretty good kill scene? Is that enough? No? Well how about death by vibrator? Does that tickle your fanciful spots? (No pun, honest)
SPM 3 is not a perfect movie, but what it does well, it does really well. I have added it to the 30 greatest all time slashers list. Let me know of you agree. Peace…
Killer Guise: √√√