A *Surprisingly Feminist* Slumber Party – The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

When Abbey and I were picking out the first batch of movies to talk about on the podcast, one of the ones I had suggested was The Slumber Party Massacre (1982). I had only seen it once before when I was home alone and making star origami like a cool kid, and I remembered thinking that it was good but not that memorable. I couldn’t remember the names of the characters (still can’t, honestly) or the bad guy’s face (he doesn’t wear a mask….) or who even wrote and directed it (understandable, right?) and the plot was also incredibly simple. It goes as follows:

A group of beautiful teen girls decide to have a slumber party. They are attacked by a madman with a power drill during the slumber party. Many die except for the final girl. The end.

Spoiler alert?

There’s no surprise kills, in-depth character development, or a twist ending. You would think the movie would completely escape my brain after watching it once but it didn’t. I still thought it was good and I couldn’t figure out why but I couldn’t get that DVD cover out of my head…. You know the one I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’ll place it here in this blog post for you to see. The DVD cover that is totally NOT suggestive AT ALL. NOPE.

SPM cover

The cover is a bit crude but there’s something about it right? It’s definitely intentional which made me think “Who is behind this movie? Who made this?” It seems like, on the surface, some young dudes made the movie in their spare time right?


I finally realized why I and so many others liked The Slumber Party Massacre: It’s subtle but it’s feminist and that’s the real twist.

Emanuela Betti wrote a great article for Bitch Magazine called Slumber Party Massacre and the Male Gaze. Here’s a small piece from the article:

“Through its witty and clever humor, the movie deconstructs the prevailing sexism and masculinity in the slasher genre, offering one of the most entertaining feminist exploitation movies ever made.

Slumber Party Massacre is very women-centric: both in the characters and the women behind the scenes. The film was directed by Amy Holden Jones, one of the few female directors to delve into the exploitation genre, and written by feminist Rita Mae Brown. This fact alone should make you want to pay attention to the small details, which in this movie are actually not that small but thrown right into your face.”

When you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear us talk about the different “in your face feminist” moments but you’re also going to hear us try to get around the confusing moments as well. The ones that make you feel like “Wait, I thought this was written and directed by women? What’s with all of this objectification?”

There’s parts of the film that are definitely troubling but maybe that’s the point. Maybe those moments of objectification are meant to make us feel icky inside and to feel uncomfortable with what we see and how these women are treated in the film. The Slumber Party Massacre isn’t so much a parody on slashers but a feminist statement piece.

Maybe now we’ll all look at male dominated horror movies differently and question them a bit more.

  • Gracie

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