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June 6, 2011

Random '80s Horror Throwdown - The Slumber Party Massacre vs. Hell Night

When life gives you lemons...well, life probably gave you '80s slasher movies.  Although, that might not be fair to say, '80s horror movies seem to be the place where live gives you melons.  (Get it? THEY HAZ BOOBS IN EM.)  Anyway, this '80s Horror Month edition of the Random Horror Throwdown features two films that try to make their mark by being exceedingly top heavy.  One has that girl from The Exorcist in a corset, one has about 37 twenty-nine-year-old teenagers....both have much silliness and lack that little thing I like to call GOOD.  But hey, it's random selection....and one of these movies is about to be selected for destruction.
The Movies:
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982, Dir. by Amy Holden Jones.)
Starring: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella.
IMDB Synopsis: "An eighteen-year-old high school girl is left at home by her parents and she decides to have a slumber party. There is friction between some of the invited guests and the new girl, who is better at basketball than they, so the new girl decides to stay at home (which is conveniently across the street from the host's house). Meanwhile, a murderer of five people with a propensity for power tools has escaped and is at large, and eventually makes his way to the party, where the guests begin experiencing an attrition problem, with only the new girl to help them." (Note from The Mike: Damn, this is a far more epic movie than I expected.  Well done, IMDB Synopsis writer Ed Sutton!)

Hell Night (1981, Dir. by Tom DeSimone.)
Starring: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton.
IMDB Synopsis: "Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion where they get killed off one by one by the monstrous surviving members of a family massacre years earlier for trespassing on their living grounds." (Note from The Mike: Man, that's the kind of set-up that always equals a great flick.  Or....an episode of Scooby Doo.)
The Directors:
OK, let's get this out of the way now - because I can't say I've ever heard of either of these directors brought up in a conversation.  Upon further investigation, I can tell that a) SPM director Amy Holden Jones is in fact a woman, and b) Hell Night director Tom DeSimone appears to have directed a lot of gay porn in the '70s.  So basically, no matter who I pick, I'm being discriminatory.  Sometime's it's hard being a straight white male.  (Not really, it's pretty easy.  Except that I'm fat, so people discriminate against me based on that.  Were only I a straight white skinny male, I'd have it made.)

Hey, qualifications!  That's how I'll pick.  DeSimone also directed Sybil Danning in Reform School Girls and some episodes of the Swamp Thing TV series, Jones directed The Rich Man's Wife with Halle Berry and wrote Beethoven.  Remember that time I said Swamp Thing? I do, and thus Hell Night gets a point. (1-0, Hell Night leads.)
The Casts:
Hey, more people I don't know much about!  Wow, this post is dripping with knowledge! OK, I lied - I kind of know about Linda Blair.  Just a little bit.  Wasn't she the kid in The Omen?

I know, my jokes aren't funny either.  So let's cut to the chase here.  Linda Blair is one of those rare horror icons who's actually an icon.  Maybe she doesn't show up in as many bad, cheap, horror movies as someone like SPM co-star Brinke Stevens - but she was in THE freakin' EXORCIST.  Sure, she's slumming it at this point, and wasn't quite to the high point of Savage Streets that would come in 1984.  But she's Linda Blair, she was Reagan McNeil, she don't take crap from nobody.  Somebody give Hell Night another point. (2-0, Hell Night leads.)
The Plots:
I know I already expressed my happiness at how Hell Night's set up reminds me of everything from The Legend of Hell House to The Real Ghostbusters (Remember when they were cartoons? Oh, it was such a fantastic and simple time!), and rightfully so.  The "spend the night in a haunted house" plot is so effing perfect.  I always wanted to see a movie where people are told they have to spend the night in a haunted house, but nothing happens.  Like, you're all expecting House on Haunted Hill, but instead you get The Breakfast Club in dark corridors with bell towers.  Seriously, that movie would rule.
Speaking of spending the night, you know what else rules? SLUMBER PARTIES! Sure, you had some bad Slumber Party experiences when you were a kid - but you also got to stay up all night watching flicks like Deliverance and Clownhouse and got yelled at by your friends' parents for being too loud but didn't care.  Slumber parties were like the pre-teen version of Animal House, if only for a night, and all the problems were totally worth it.  And if you add a killer with a giant phallic drill to the equation, You've won a piece of Mike's heart. Let's throw Slumber Party Massacre a point, shall we? (2-1, Hell Night leads.)

Did You Know That The Slumber Party Massacre was both written and directed by women?
No?  Well, it is.  How weird is that?  I'm sure there's a lot of mumbo jumbo that's been written about how meaningful that is, I just think it's really cool.  Both of the SPM sequels were directed by women too.  In a subgenre that's all about degrading women, it's nice to see them in control for once.  So let's give Slumber Party Massacre another point!  (2-2.)

This Choice is Like:
Everybody's gotta sleep somewhere, man.  Whether it's a haunted mansion or a teenage slumber party with a loosed maniac, it's gonna happen eventually.  And if I have to choose which one of these films I have to sleep in....well, the choice is pretty obvious.

Look, I know it sounds like I'm picking the film that's sleazier because I would rather spend the night with a bunch of young ladies who have trouble keeping their shirts on, but that's not the case.  Truth of the matter is that Hell Night...well, it's kind of a snoozer.  102 minutes of nothing but silliness and Linda Blair's exploited cleavage.   Man, at least Slumber Party Massacre would be a fun film to die in.  Let's give it the final point and the win! (3-2, Slumber Party Massacre wins!)

4 comments:

matango said...

While I haven't seen Hell Night, I expect I'd still go with Slumber Party Massacre. The scenes with the dead pizza boy and when the killer gets disarmed (. . . uh, maybe dismembered is more accurate?) are perfect.

Jack Veasey said...

I'm glad somebody mentioned the pizza scene. Any movie where a buxom girl in a teddy eats pizza off of the pizza boy's recently deceased corpse deserves some kind of recognition.

Emily said...

Hell Night has a soft spot in my heart as being a childhood VHS pick, but I only watched SPM this year and quickly fell in love. It's just too much fun.

The Mike said...

Thanks folks! I can't believe I didn't mention the pizza scene somewhere, so good save. :)