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  Slumber Party '57 Sleepover Shenanigans
Year: 1976
Director: William A. Levey
Stars: Janet Wood, Noelle North, Debra Winger, Bridget Holloman, Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith, Mary Appleseth, R.L. Armstrong, Joyce Jillson, Rafael Campos, Victor Rogers, Larry Gelman, Joe E. Ross, Will Hutchins, Bill Thurman, Randy Ralston, Janice Carman
Genre: Comedy, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1957 in the U.S. of A. and at this high school it's nearing the end of the day, where the boy's toilets look like they are on fire because of all the tobacco smoke billowing from it, where food gets pushed in faces, and where teachers are fried on electrified fences. Such innocent days! But were the fifties as innocent as we have been told? How about we follow six teenage girls who have found themselves at a loose end because the basketball team they would usually support have gone out of town for a game this evening, leaving one of their number, rich girl Sherry (Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith), to invite them over to her parents' mansion tonight where they can have a slumber party...

William A. Levey is not often mentioned in the same breath as the worst directors in the world, those bashed creatives whose filmography is consistently held up as a chapter of cinematic accidents, but take a look at any one of the movies with this man at the helm and you would be wondering why he was never considered among that blighted company. Well, there are plenty of directors who make terrible films whose profile is never too high, mostly because hardly anyone watches their output, and it may be accurate to observe Levey was among those, though with Slumber Party '57 he did at least have a claim to fame among the discoveries in his main cast.

She was Debra Winger, the no-nonsense star of the eighties, whose first agent got her a job on this film which she can't have been enormously thrilled about, but at least it was paying work and her foot in the showbiz door. Her five co-stars (all plainly not teenagers) were notable because three of them died prematurely, and of the other two, one went on to extensive animation voice work, though she was not the voice heard in many of the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons, that was Janice Carman, and she appeared in one of the interludes occurring when the girls decide a great way to pass the time would be to share their experiences of losing their virginities, leading to a collection of soft-focus flashbacks.

Except this is supposed to be a comedy, and you imagine it was Levey and his male production team who believed sharing sexual experiences was a great way to pass the time for their characters, so there were a bunch of entirely laugh-free sequences the impatient audience would have to sit through before the actress relating her tale would finally reveal her breasts (though one had the cheek of using a body double, and Smith didn't bother at all). A typical tale was the first, where hick Bonnie May (Bridget Holloman) rhapsodises about losing it to her moonshine running cousin, which is intended to be... what? Hilarious? Erotic? Hilariously erotic? The offputting nature of much of this could be summed up by the anecdote delivered by Angie (Noelle North), a fan of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

It's not quite as bad as you think, especially in light of a last act twist, but Angie's reminiscences of seducing middle-aged Howard (Will Hutchins, looking uneasily like British all-round entertainer Roy Castle) at her parents' party were compounded in their right off quality when her father bursts in (literally) and in his fury takes his naked daughter over his knee and spanks her - which she thoroughly enjoys. It was that undercurrent of nastiness emerging intermittently that made even the most innocent softcore fan uncomfortable, and its laboured point that the fifties were really no more innocent and naïve than the seventies did little to make this any the more acceptable. Other guest stars included Joe E. Ross, apparently as his character from classic sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? and celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson as a carhop at the diner, but Winger was the reason the curious seek this out, though whether they think their curiosity paid dividends was as dubious a prospect as the '57 setting - the music is mostly from the 60s, a trailer for Cauldron of Blood at the drive-in is seen with a 1967 copyright date, and everyone has seventies hairstyles. Sheesh.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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