Friday, October 8, 2010

Halloween Havoc: THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY (1980?)

Some movies are born bad. They are badly conceived, badly written, badly acted and badly produced. They slip into obscurity and sometimes, on occasion are dug out of obscurity by the filthy few of the truly obsessed so we can all gather around and say “yep, that movie sucks!” Then there are movies that are every bit as bad but refuse to go quietly. They have no redeeming features whatsoever and yet manage to be widely distributed and continue to make money while everyone stands around with mouths agape saying “yep, that movie sucks!” Such is THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY.

Shot on what appears to be 16mm in what appears to be 1980, the film was shelved (or more accurately, dug out of a closet) in 1988 and released during the DTV boom. At that point, much like now, you could throw anything horror themed out on video and you could make bank. The crazy thing is that unlike many of the more celebrated schlock of the era, such as BLOOD CULT (1985), THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY sported none of the exploitation elements that you’d expect other than a “deranged” killer (we know he’s crazy because his eyes are always popped wide and he tilts his head back and forth) and yet still this movie persists and even thrives on the home video market.

This film is one of those films that is absolutely terrible in all the right ways (except for a lack of cheesy gore). The film hits the ground running with a credit that reads “B&S Productions”, which these days would be smirky humor by hipsters who are showing that they know they are making a Bull Shit movie. Here it is actually executive producers Bill F. Blair and Betty S. Scott. But man, it sure is an amusing coincidence. The essential premise is that a maniac has escaped a local hospital with scrubs and a scalpel and is carving up a path directly to the house of the doctor who performed the frontal lobotomy on him. Of course that very night is the night that the doctor’s daughter is having the weakest slumber party ever with a couple of friends from school. Eh, what more do you need really? I'm good with that.

Teh hawtness!
At the local highschool, a classroom of “kids” who have apparently been held back for about six or eight years. We know that they have been held back, not because they are too old even for college, but because they are stoked on the fact that one of the guys has a “super watch” that actually counts time in seconds. Damn man, is this a sci-fi flick or what? Crazy! The guys talk a bunch of crap about how one guy is a dork (Rick Polizi, named “Science” because he wears scrubs to school and is fascinated by poking the vertebrae of a cheap plastic anatomy skeleton), and how Chris (Jan Jenson) “isn’t wearing a bra again!” While the soundtrack plays a song written for a casio synthesizer that includes the lyrics “let’s go out tonight, let’s go out and boogie”, Chris and her friends Tracy (Nancy Mayer) and Linda (Joann Whitley) discuss their plans for a slumber party. Unfortunately they can’t go to Chris’ house because last time someone invited “that bohemian football player”! What? Since when do highschool kids use the word bohemian, except when referring to a famous Queen song? And since when are football players bohemian?! What did he do? Paint impressionist still-life on the walls after doing wine-barrel stands?

So it’s decided, Linda’s house it is, even though she claims that the conditions are  “no guys and no drinking.” To which Chris exclaims “Tommy and Billy have snuck into a million houses before, it’ll be a piece of cake!” Uhhhh, yeah, sounds like you got a couple of keepers! Hell, the house is so big that no one would ever know there was a party going on there at all. Not even the audience.

Linda’s house is something to behold all right, it’s a bi-level plantation-style mega-house complete with Doric (or is that Ionic?) columns and a sculpted yard. Dad (David Whitley) is a rich doctor, who you know is rich because all the young nurses are hot for him even though he’s balding, pasty, and has all of the personality of a dishtowel. Too bad his richness doesn’t extend to the inside of the house! Phew!

Woooo! Par-taaaaaay!!
With the party in full-swing, by this I mean the ghetto blaster is cranked up and the girls are spasmodically jumping up and down, Dad comes home and gets cranky turning down the LP so they can hear a special news bulliten about the psycho who has just killed a nurse at a bus stop near the hospital. The girls look mildly concerned and as Dad walks off, Tracy says “do you know anything about this Dr. Sickler?” to which Dad replies “well… I just don’t know.” Thanks doc! I've never been a big fan of the old plot-exposition monologue character, but damn, throw us a bone here! Another moment of inspired dialogue comes after the boys show up in Halloween masks and “scare the piss outta those babes”. After a round of “screw you” and “I can’t help it if you are on the rag”, Chris (who looks more and more like a coke-head as the movie progresses) and Tracy have this exchange:

Chris: “He’s such an asshole, I don’t know why I like him”
Tracy: “Because he’s so fucking good looking, that’s why!”
Chris: “Oh yeah? Since when have you been taking inventory?”

Huh? Wait... Inventory? What?

But wait, I almost forgot, there’s a killer on the loose! Finally the killer finds the docs house (so wait, this guy is completely unhinged, had a lobotomy and still managed to escape and find the doctor’s house in a few hours?). After attacking Tommy (Danny David), who merely looks surprised while having his throat slashed and who never should have taken off his shirt in the first place. There’s even a shower scene thrown in here where nothing, except a bare shoulder, shown which makes me wonder why even bother to shoot it in the first place? Then again, this movie completely breaks the golden rule of exploitation filmmaking: “Only hot chicks have slumber parties.” Tyler, buddy, I may be a little late with this advice, but lemme tell ya, there are other ways to be a rule-bustin’ maverick. That ain’t a rule you mess with... unless you are making some feel-good female mid-life crisis flick with aging stars trying to recapture their youth.

I guess if you do enough coke,
this totally makes sense.
This movie has more “wtf?” moments than you can shake a remote at: the girls “hide” the booze from the parents on a table in the dining room in front of a floor to ceiling window; because they are having a party, they decide to stash all the phones in the bathroom; Billy spills beer on his shirt and decides to fix the situation he’ll throw the can of beer out of an open window; and seriously, what the hell, did Science actually slash Billy (Lance Descourez) or was that the killer pretending to be Science after having killed him and if so, why did he pop up from under the bed with the mask on? Ghaaaa!

Amazingly writer-director-actor Stephen Tyler (no, you’re thinking of Steven Tyler, now that would have been something) never went on to make another feature film, nor did his cast. I’m guessing his dialogue exchanges didn’t have Hollywood banging on his door. When Tommy disappears while waiting for Chris to get out of the shower, Chris goes looking for him marching over to the closet saying “ok queerbait, isn’t it time you came out of the closet?” and later to the other girls “he’s such a homo, he even took the bed spread!” With such longevity, it's amazing no one has tracked the guy down and interviewed him. Matter of fact there is very little info on this film out there at all. Clearly this is “backyard filmmaking” done with friends and family, but it would be interesting to know what the intent was. If Tyler was using it to get into filmschool, I'm guessing the entry requirements were more stringent back then. I've seen worse student films... then again, I've seen a lot better too.

Added as an afterthought for the late ‘80s home video market, a couple of tracks by the band Firstryke were added to the soundtrack. Back in the early ‘80s (ok, ok, and even today), I was heavily into the metal scene and have a fairly solid knowledge of bands of the era and Firstryke (presumably pronounced “First-Strike” and not “Furs-Tryke”) was a new one on me. Hailing out of Oklahoma, sporting only a single album and a sound that is comparable to every other damn band that came out of the LA scene at the time, Firstryke actually seemed to gain a career being associated with this film. Their one and only album “Just a Nightmare” actually got re-issued last year and they have regrouped to do tours. All because of their association with this turkey? Man, if only we could get them on tour with Easy Action!

4 Reactions:

  1. This was one of the direct to video films produced by Oklahoma based United in the wake of the success of Blood Cult and The Ripper (1985), so it was definitely released in 1987, and was shot in 86-87, and not 1980. Even though it was shot on 16mm, there are a few shot-on-video insert shots, strangely enough.

    If you look closely during the scene where the girls are talking while leaving high school (it's the scene where you have the "Hawtness" tag), Chris forgets her line in the middle of the scene and asks the other girl what her line is! You'd think that would call for a reshoot. Also, this may have the most convoluted/nonsensical twist ending in "cinema" history.

    Thanks for the info on Firstryke. I'm honestly surprised they released an album, but good for them I guess.

  2. Yeah, Bill Blair was the founder of United based in Oklahoma and went on to found VCI Video that still exists today. I talk about this more in the review that will post tomorrow.

    Sometimes the production date can be quite a bit different from the release date. The hair-styles, clothes, furniture, cars, absolutely nothing in the movie is 1987. The only thing that's 1987 is the two Firstryke tracks and those, like the titles, were added later. I would actually peg the date at '78 or '79 if there wasn't a poster of Tom Selleck from Magnum PI in one of the rooms (the series debuted in '80). The poster is right next to a BeeGees poster and lemme tell ya, there was nothing more uncool in the late '80s than a disco band! The science teacher in the beginning of the film has a perm and what kids now call a "cop mustache" that was fashionable in around '77 / '78 and became a serious fashion foul around '81 / '82.
    The watch that the "kids" are so impressed with in the beginning of the film would be commonplace in '87. I make fun of the scene, but yeah, in 1980 having a watch that does count-downs was pretty slick. There's a lot of indicators if you're looking for them.

  3. I thought I read an interview with Bill where he said they funded Last Slumber Party after Revenge: Blood Cult II, so that's what I was basing it on. I guess it was possible that some local Oklahoma dude shot a movie with his own money circa 1980 and stuck it in a closet. United bought it circa 86-87, did some post on it and released it.

    There is also a Xanadu poster, which would also place it in 1980. Then again, maybe Oklahoma was, like, totally behind the times! Or maybe the filmmaker was trying to warn people that clinging to outdated technology/pop culture is bad, and that you deserve to get a scalpel shoved into your abdomen :P

    We won't kno for sure until Criterion releases a blu-ray special edition.

  4. It was according to star Jane Jensen shot in 1984


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