A major rite of passage in the life of a preteen or teenage girl is, of course, getting her period. A close second to that, however, is The Art of Sleepovers: Hosting and Guest Starring At Them. In fact, just the other day I was thinking about all the slumber parties I had growing up. The last full-blown one I had was for my thirteenth birthday. The real memories that stand out involve this one girl who we invited that I only sometimes liked, because rule three of slumber parties is Always Invite Someone Who Two-Thirds of the Other People Attending Hate. So anyway, this girl and I always were at odds with each other -- frienemies I believe the kids call it today -- and at my party, my one friend stole her underwear and we soaked it in water and put it in the freezer and after she finally fell asleep, we got it and threw it at her, and that caused Frienemy to cry and start screaming and then we got scared she was going to kill my sister who was asleep upstairs and then we started crying and then my mom got really mad and then we finally all went to sleep and then Frienemy and I were mostly enemies the rest of our lives, which culminated in me knocking her on her ass in a play my senior year, and then we graduated high school and I went off to do my thing and she became a stripper and eventually died, so that’s pretty depressing and entirely true and a good segue into what I really meant to say in this paragraph, which is: I watched the Slumber Party Massacre series.
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE
So it’s 1982 and everyone in high school in those days is in their mid-20s and trusted to have sleepovers when their parents are out of town -- or at least youngish Trish is. Her parents leave her alone for the weekend, asking their single male neighbor to peek in and make sure she’s behaving (had we followed this plotline more it would’ve been more assacre and less massacre, am I right, guys?) at the slumber party.So Trish goes to school and makes the final round of invites to her party, which includes Valerie, who fulfills the aforementioned Slumber Party Rule Three. Valerie, however, passes because she knows these girls are secret bitches, and decides to babysit her little sister Courtney instead.
When party time arrives, the girls don’t realize they’re already being eyed by a recently-escaped-from-prison wackadoodle known as Russ Thorn who is desperate to further his skills with a power tool, and is doing so by killing a few young girls when the chance arises. And just like a frat guy in a bar, our murderer goes to where the crowds are at -- Trish’s house, where the estrogen is high, and so Russ first kills Lonely Male Guardian Neighbor, then starts catching the girls and trying to drill them, not figuratively but literally. So these girls are getting diced up and start screaming and those screams alert the other neighbors, who get Valerie and Courtney to go check on the party, because when children are screaming inside a house, the reasonable thing to do is send in more children. With bodies piling up, Valerie and little sis go and hide in the basement and wait for an adult to show up, in the form of the local gym coach, who tries to take a fire poker to Russ, but murderer > coach at murdering, which means the remaining girls have to take matters into their own hands with the help of some knives and machetes, which ends poorly for Russ, but you know Trish and Valerie and Courtney are going to have some real issues with men when they grow up because of this.
You know what the most upsetting part of this movie was? Delivery pizza back in the day cost these kids $6. Fuck you, inflation.
FILM-TO-SLUMBER PARTY EQUIVALENT: Having your mother tell the mother of the popular girl who invited you to her sleepover party that you have to wear your headgear when you sleep so your orthodontist will see results (I AM LOOKING AT YOU MOM).
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II
Oh Courtney. Poor Courtney. I knew it -- I knew that having your sister/babysitter drag you into a murder house would have lingering effects, I just knew it. And that’s we learn in Slumber Party Massacre II, which tells the story of Courtney After Puberty.
We learn that Valerie had a hard time adjusting to killing a murderer and now spends the bulk of her time in an asylum. Courtney has fared better, it seems; she has the occasional nightmare, but overall is a functioning high school student with a group of friends and a crush on a 30-year-old senior. She even loves music and plays in an all-girl rock band! Courtney is clearly An American Girl, so when she gets the opportunity to go with the three other girls in her band -- I am three percent sure the name of it is Inflamed Lady Parts -- to a condo one of their dads just bought, she happily makes the trip and plans for a weekend of debauchery. First up, they raid the dad’s booze closet and then have a weird pillow fight involving feathers and one of the girls removing her bra after drenching themselves with champagne (this is exactly how all slumber parties unfold), but then Courtney’s trip takes a turn for the worse.
You see, there is a marginally hot guy who has a guitar with a giant murdery drill bit attached chasing all her friends, except no one but Courtney sees him. In fact, through a series of events, everyone starts to believe Court is crazy, but then when people start dying left and right at the hand (or frets, I guess?) of murdery musician, Courtney must fight for her life by pulling a pre-Sidney-Prescott Sidney Prescott. So she lights her murdery friend aflame, and aha! one thinks, maybe now she will have a normal childhood, except whaaaaaat? Guess what you guys! We got Inceptioned by Slumber Party Massacre! It turns out Courtney is dreaming about the murdery musician the entire time! She wakes up happy in bed with her creepy old boyfriend and smiles in relief before turning to make out with him and hooray, it’s a happy ending, except whaaaaaat? Her boyfriend turns into murdery musician and then Courtney wakes up again in what appears to be a mental hospital! It’s a dream within a dream within -- wait, suddenly the guitar fret/drill bit starts ripping through the floor of her hospital room, and I am very confused and unimpressed and decide to take a break to go play with the new eyeliner I recently bought, in a very Slumber Party For One sort of way.
FILM-TO-SLUMBER-PARTY-EQUIVALENT: Having such crippling hypochondria and anxiety that you can only really handle the germs and burden of one friend, and with great excitement accept an invitation to spend the night at her house only to learn her parents are hoarders.
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III
There is such a sense of promise for the future with teenagers. They believe everything will be fine, don’t pay attention to you-are-going-to-be-murdered-hints and every romance is The Romance of their lives. It’s so different from adulthood. I know shit is going awry, I get very concerned when a man stands outside my house at night staring into the windows, and I only get to daydream about someone just grabbing and kissing the shit out of me. So watching Slumber Party Massacre III is really a mixed back -- a murdery step up from the second movie, but a harsh reminder I am in my 30s and the best is behind me.
So Jackie has it pretty good. She lives near the beach and gets to have a sleepover, because her parents, like the parents of the children in the previous two movies, are neglectful and leave her alone for the weekend. So she and her girlfriends all get together to begin the day at the beach, and with the exception of noticing a creeper staring at them from a distance (a creeper who looks a lot like a guy I had a crush on in the early 90s, by the way) everything seems kosher -- until one of the girls goes to her car and gets drilled through the midsection. Awesome! Murder in minutes. Everyone else gathers together at Jackie’s, where drinks flow, pizza is consumed, practical jokes result in another death unbeknownst to everyone and coitus is rampant: Frank and Jackie, Juliette and Ken, Susie and Tom -- it’s couple’s night, clearly.
Unfortunately, post-coitus Juliette gets murdered by a vibrator and the cops refuse to take the death seriously. Some of the guys decide to go get Ken’s ex-cop uncle to protect them, and as they are walking through the shadows we learn that oh shit! It’s not the creeper killing people. KEN IS THE KILLER. Ken is the psycho killer, you guys! THE DRILLER KILLER HAS BEEN INSIDE THE HOUSE THE ENTIRE TIME. Diabolically, Ken calls the girls and says that his uncle told them it is much safer to stay inside the house, which basically gives him, like, a human meat farm upon which to feast -- which he does. These kids are terrible at staying alive, and Ken is a veritable master with his yardstick of a drill bit. After a failed attempt to capture Ken with a volleyball net, Jackie ends up having to take matters into her own hands -- she is the party hostess, after all -- and kills Ken. But at what cost? Her friends and lover are dead. The police force has failed her. Her parents have abandoned her. Jackie is now an adult, and for that, I am the most sad.
FILM-TO-SLUMBER-PARTY EQUIVALENT: Going to your best friend’s house for a slumber party with the new girl, who annoys you because she steals everyone’s attention but seduces you because she teaches everyone how to French kiss boys with pillows, leaving you both annoyed and aroused for the first time in your late teenage life.
Thirteen years after the driller killer was last seen, we divert from traditional titles and settings to add Cheerleader Massacre to the film series, and let’s cut to the chase: This is really, really bad. First off, our cheerleaders look old enough to be mothers, are not good at cheering and the music is ripped straight from a porn. Between that and the film quality -- I am pretty sure this was shot with a Canon XL1 by a guy who has lived off energy drinks for two weeks -- I actually paused it to make sure I wasn’t accidentally watching a porn.
I wasn’t. It’s just a terrible movie. Basically, here’s your plot: There are some cheerleaders. The ringleader is bitchy. The others are too. Also there is a brunette one. They get in a car and the car breaks down. The bitchy cheerleaders and the brunette, along with the van driver, two arbitrary guys and the coach, find a cabin in the woods to spend the night in. Meanwhile, we learn that a crazed killer is also on the loose in the area looking for vengeance against the cop who put him away many moons ago. So many plotlines, I can barely keep up! Soon people start dying and you’re supposed to be all, like, oh no, there’s a wackadoodle in the woods killing this group of upstanding students, but wait a second ... Maybe it’s not the convicted killer. Maybe he has a one track mind, focusing solely on revenge, and the real killer of the cheerleaders is ... THE BRUNETTE! This is what happens when you bully the dark-haired girl.
I hate this movie. Things about cheerleaders that are better than this movie: “Bring It On,” “Bring It On 2,” actual cheerleaders, the junior varsity squad at my middle school that I did not make due to my crippling anxiety and two left feet and R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Cheerleaders series, which actually did creep me out and still does, because at one point a cheerleader in it basically gets boiled to death, unlike the boring deaths in this one (no, seriously, those books stayed with me since I read ‘em at age 11). Thank you, R.L. Stine, for giving me a real cheerleader massacre.
FILM-TO-SLUMBER-PARTY-EQUIVALENT: Going to a sleepover but instead of getting pizza, getting AIDS.
CHEERLEADER MASSACRE 2
So this one opens with a little more promise, sort of. A group of cheerleaders are on their way to a cheerpetition when some sort of drone outfitted with circular saw blades attacks the bus. We get spilled entrails and decapitated girls within the first five minutes, and to be honest, I kinda hoped this was a short film, except no, after the deaths and opening credits, we cut to a woman sensually bathing herself while acoustic guitars weep quietly in the background, which apparently has absolutely zero bearing whatsoever on the rest of the film. I suddenly miss the murderous musician from the second film, who I have now romanticized into the main character of Meat Loaf’s “Wasted Youth.”
Anyway, there is a cheerleading competition up in the mountains, pitting the red team against the blue team, except blue team was recently murdered by one of President Obama’s drones, so we are just waiting around with our remaining team, who uses the free time to practice, bang and walk around generally topless -- until some more weird alien-drone-things show up and start offing people.
Eventually we learn that one of the cheerleader’s dads was working on a secret government weapon project and that she is using them to kill everyone, all in the name of ... feminism, because it’s a man’s world and cheerleaders are bimbos and if we kill the bimbos and then men then we can have ... world peace? This is a twist I did not see coming. You know what twist I wish had been in this movie? The gentle, sweet, buzzing twist of a drill bit going into flesh. I miss the 80s. I miss my youth. I miss slumber parties where people died with items you can find at home. When did it all get so complicated, you guys?
FILM-TO-SLUMBER-PARTY EQUIVALENT: Going with a friend you find slightly annoying to her church lock in because your crush is also supposed to go, except he bails and bangs your slutty best friend while you are locked in a sanctuary all night.