What’s the sign of a good horror sequel? Is it adherence to the things that made the original work? Is it branching off in a new direction while still paying respect? Or is it having a rockabilly-quoting Greaser (big G) with a drill attached to the end of his guitar killing every pastel wearing teen in his wake? The answer is possibly all three, but today we’ll focus on the last one with Slumber Party Massacre II (1987), Deborah Brock’s ridiculously fun (and delightfully odd) follow up to Amy Holden Jones’ cult classic.

Released by Roger Corman’s then imprint Concorde Pictures in March followed by a video release in September, SPM II is essentially an updated Beach Blanket Bingo movie dipped in A Nightmare on Elm Street and rolled around in sprinkles of Saved by the Bell. You know same old, same old.

Remember little Courtney from the original film? When she wasn’t busy ogling Playgirl centerfolds while licking a lollipop, she and her older sister Valerie managed to survive being slaughtered by the Canadian Tuxedoed Driller Killer. Fast forward five years; Valerie (played here by Cindy Eilbacher) is confined to a mental institution, and Courtney (Crystal Bernard – TV’s Wings) seems to be on her way, with constant nightmares of not only the events of the first film but of a leather clad rocker (Atanas Ilitich – Ragin’ Cajun) with a shiny and deadly red electric guitar.

Not wanting to visit her sister, Courtney decides instead to go on a “slumber party weekend” at a condo with her girlfriends, who are all members of a band; Amy (Kimberly McArthur – Easy Money), Sheila (Juliette Cummins – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning), Sally (Heidi Kozak – Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood) and Courtney grace us with a Banglesesque (yes, it’s a word, don’t look it up) tune in the garage before heading to their retreat.

Add in a few boyfriends and/or boyfriend adjacents (Patrick Lowe, Joel Hoffman, Scott Westmoreland), crazy hallucinations (headless dancing chickens, a zit that a Costco tub of Clearacil won’t cure), more Banglesesque tunes, a stop in the slaughter so the killer can perform a whole song, bumbling cops, gore galore, inflatable sex doll poolside fervor, and a cheeky commentary on the ‘80s sheen of the MTV generation, and you have a film so far removed from the first that it barely clings on to the II.

That is partly what’s so great about it; the viewer really doesn’t need to know the events of the first film (although they could have presented those clips in a clearer fashion since they chose to incorporate them anyway) to like SPM II, only an appreciation of ‘80s aesthetics and the absurd (of which it happily wallows in both). What both films also possess is good humor; neither show a misogynistic bent to the material, but rather comment on it; and while the first does this through a prism of slasher saturation, SPM II uses the growing banality of music television (even by ’87 they were blurring together) to piggyback on Freddy yet not even bothering with any ground rules to battle this iteration of The Driller Killer.

But our fella leans more towards Freddy’s Revenge and does all his slaying in the girls’ reality, which seems far enough removed from ours that it may as well be in a dream anyway; the musical performances are flat out full songs, not snippets, lending an extra layer of “what the fuck?”-ery that writer/director Brock (Rock n’ Roll High School Forever) revels in piling on.

How about another layer? The rock guitar is already very much a phallic symbol; many a guitarist has graced the stage and stroked the neck in orgasmic release while playing a 12 minute solo. Throw a drill on the end of that, and it becomes a caricature of a hoary cliché that was even exhausted by the time this came out; Brock was clearly looking to satirize the toxic masculinity prevalent in rock music at the time.

Oh, you’re looking for some more WTF? Instead of creating some hair metal anthem for the killer to belt, he dances around the condo with his flaming red guitar grinder crooning a rockabilly tune as he swivels and swoops, coming across much closer to Gene Vincent than Gene Simmons. Confusing, sure; it seems like a lost opportunity to razz the follicle farmers of the TV age, but the point is more than taken with his head to heel leather. (I’d be dancing too if I had to figure out how to go to the can in that outfit.)

SPM II has a cast that was certainly known to horror lovers at the time, and they all bring infectious enthusiasm to intentionally cardboard cutouts; Bernard would soon find small screen success, and here she conveys a squeaky clean image when she isn’t busy having psycho-sexual dreams of her dreamy driller. Yes, “repressed” is covered too in the clever screenplay.

We’ve all seen more than our share of stupid slashers, with bad character choices on top of ill-advised scenarios driven by leering filmmakers. That films like the original and Slumber Party Massacre II chose to lampoon that stupidity with a strong female gaze, by women filmmakers, right in the thick of it all says as much about the subversive nature of the genre as anything from the French extreme. Perhaps more; even Martyrs has to give it up for a film that has a song called “Let’s Buzz” in tribute not to a chainsaw, but a drill.

Slumber Party Massacre II is available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory as part of a Double Feature with Slumber Party Massacre III.

Next: Drive-In Dust Offs: THE REDEEMER (1978)
  • Scott Drebit
    About the Author - Scott Drebit

    Scott Drebit lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is happily married (back off ladies) with 2 grown kids. He has had a life-long, torrid, love affair with Horror films. He grew up watching Horror on VHS, and still tries to rewind his Blu-rays. Some of his favourite horror films include Phantasm, Alien, Burnt Offerings, Phantasm, Zombie, Halloween, and Black Christmas. Oh, and Phantasm.