Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Last Slumber Party (1988) dir. Stephen Tyler

Logline: An escaped lobotomy-candidate sort-of-terrorizes his doctor's daughter and her friends (and their boyfriends) during what may turn out to be (egads!) the last slumber party these gals ever have.

A lovely example of limited means, resources, and ambition producing a thoroughly limited picture. Everything about The Last Slumber Party screams low-budget video release (some late pick-up shots in the film even look as if they’ve been shot on consumer home video). Nonetheless, and probably by pure coincidence, the film maintains a cheesy charm that earns it some good will through the first half an hour or so. History has proven that slumber parties are a wonderful setting for slasher shenanigans because of their ability to strand teens in the most unassuming of suburban settings (see: Slumber Party Massacre I & II), and yet the film even somehow flubs that up by having the mother of one of the girls sleeping soundly upstairs all night, oblivious to any of the screaming or throat-slashing around her.

But it’s those more-than-slightly off-kilter elements that elevate the film from being simply inept to being bizarrely inept. For example, witness the repeated conversations about the necessity of orange juice in the morning, or the fact that the surgical-masked killer spends the majority of the film crouching next to a bedside table making bug-eyes in the world’s most frequented bedroom. Most bizarre of all is when our bug-eyed killer is momentarily halted in his rampage by another murderer stealing his kill (in this case the second maniac is an ancillary nerd character who is presumably taking revenge for having wads of paper thrown at him one too many times. Also his name is 'Science'). Our killer’s bug-eyes have never been wider.

To be fair, he almost blends into the Bee Gees poster.
Sadly, our heroines are a bit less than compelling (Chris, the sunken-eyed final girl, spends one shot considering for half a minute whether or not she’s going to pick up a newspaper from the front porch), and there’s a strong line of homophobia running through the script that is especially curious considering it’s funneled mostly through the mouths of said heroines (memorable dialogue: “He’s such a homo; He took the bedspread”). That said, one of them has posters for both Xanadu and Tom Selleck on her wall, so they can't be all that bad.

Budgetary restrictions naturally put a damper on some aspects: take, for instance, the entire opening scene, which for about ten minutes features the actors’ muffled dialogue and its cheesy dance score mixed at exactly the same volume, or the fact that in ADR one of the actresses is far too close to her microphone. Similarly, the film also has the budget for only one make-up effect (surgical scalpel across the throat) which it utilizes repeatedly (meaning: nearly every time there is a scene of violence). But these are the sort of things you come to expect when you watch straight-to-video “classics” like this from the late '80s boom. For the longest hour and ten minutes of your life, may I present: The Last Slumber Party.

No comments:

Post a Comment