Trish (Michele Michaels) is an 18-year-old high school student whose parents are away for the weekend, which gives her a chance to invite her friends round for a slumber party. Unfortunately, an insane killer has escaped from the local asylum and is stalking the streets of the town - something Trish and her friends find out that night in the worst way possible...
Slumber Party Massacre earns a special place in slasher movie history for its reputed feminist angle on the genre conventions, which by 1982 were already getting pretty laborious. It was produced and directed by a woman, Amy Jones, and written by feminist writer Rita Mae Brown, but if you're expecting anything out of the ordinary, then you'll be disappointed - this is really more of the same, and even at 77 minutes long it feels overstretched. There is a female telephone engineer at the start, though, and just as many males are killed as females, so I suppose this might be an equal opportunities slasher.
That's not to say there aren't a few nods to a woman's point of view. But on the other hand, there is a lot of nudity and the girls are always bitching about each other, so they can be seen as sex objects or just unsympathetic, if you're in a sceptical frame of mind. However the male characters can act just as stupidly as the female ones - nobody listens to the warnings on the radio, and when it's obvious that there's a killer on the loose they keep finding excuses to wander around outside instead of locking the doors. And why does everyone creep up on the others and act innocent when they get a fright instead of calling their name from a few feet away, like normal people?
Slasher movie killers are usually masked or have their faces hidden from view for most of their onscreen appearances, but here the murderer wanders around in plain sight, brandishing his two foot long electric drill. His weapon of choice is presumably a phallic one, an analogy picked up on by many observers, not simply in this horror but in many others of a similar ilk which popularised the perception of slashers as hopelessly anti-female, yet the filmmakers don't make much of any possible metaphorical aspect apart from a shot showing the killer looming over his victim with the drill between his legs. He does get a sort of castration scene at the end, though. All in all, it's unremarkable stuff and doesn't make as much as you would expect from the commentary on gender issues in the genre from talent like this. Music by Ralph Jones, which sounds like it's being played by the Phantom of the Opera.
American director who made her debut in 1982 with the would-be feminist slasher Slumber Party Massacre, followed by dramas Love Letters, Maid to Order and Rich Man’s Wife. Wrote the screenplays for mainstream hits Mystic Pizza, Indecent Proposal, Beethoven and The Getaway.