If you’re after a movie that fits the term “cult favourite” like a glove, then look no further than 1982’s The Slumber Party Massacre. It has a brisk runtime, brimming with low-budget gore, memorably silly dialogue, and the expected amount of slasher nudity that one would expect from a Roger Corman production. Most importantly, it was directed and written by women, a noteworthy fact from an era where men typically dominated the genre. It results in a film that is as schlocky as its title, but one that has importance and value underneath its cheap thrills.

Fast forward to 2021, and “legacy sequels” are a big trend in the horror of today. This updated version of The Slumber Party Massacre is more of a sequel reboot to the original, much like Halloween (2018) or Candyman (2021), and for the most part, it hits all the right notes. Director Danishka Esterhazy and writer Suzanne Keilly have crafted a nice homage to the source material, a homage that still feels like it has its own identity.

The core group of characters are all extremely likable, and time is taken to establish that we are following the story of a group of strong, determined women who can hold their own, led by a charismatic Hannah Gonera. It’s no effort to root for their survival and packs more of a punch when the body count begins to increase, a far cry from the arguably typical genre trope where the “good guys” are often written as cannon fodder. The villain of the piece is a returning Russ Thorn, an antagonist who never hit the lofty heights of Jason or Freddy, but who still deserves a spot in the expansive pantheon of slasher big bads. Rob van Vuuren does a good job of emulating Michael Villella, and that’s about it. Thorn gets a little more back story than before but nothing overly necessary.

Slumber Party Massacre Review 2021

The feminist stance is far less subtle than the original, but it completely works. It’s loud, fun, objectifies male characters in an incredibly self-aware manner, and makes sure it’s gratuitous in its execution. There’s one scene in particular where a group of men are the subjects of a topless, sweaty pillow fight. It’s over the top, ridiculous, and hilarious, and moments like this, combined with the capable main protagonists ensure that it’s mostly a blast. On top of all this, there’s some commendable gore and plenty of great shots courtesy of cinematographer Trevor Calvery.

Unfortunately, proceedings fall apart a little in the final third. The film makes a shift into full-blown, serious slasher territory. Consequently, it flat out abandons a lot of what made the first hour exceedingly entertaining. The smart characters start making dumb decisions, and the narrative plays out in a way that leaves a slightly sour taste in the mouth. It ultimately leads to an underwhelming ending, which is a shame considering how genuinely decent everything starts.

When all is said and done, however, Slumber Party Massacre is a decent time overall. It’s far better than any SyFy film has any right to be and will surely appeal to fans of the original. It may be flawed, it may be silly, but ultimately, it can proudly stand side by side with its big sister.

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