We return to the Drive-In for a special night of fun, movies, and a lack of social distancing. In all seriousness, though, it was a lovely night with a surprising amount of talent on the set.
Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)
Opening Rant: Don’t body shame women.
1987’s Slumber Party Massacre II is a weird movie. It’s fun, but it is also like a lesser version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Instead of exploring dream logic, Slumber Party Massacre II instead puts its eggs in the musical horror comedy basket to mixed results. Mind you, I am saying this as a fan of the movie.
The film follows Courtney, a survivor of the original Slumber Party Massacre, as she seeks time with her boyfriend while struggling with nightmares about the killer from the first film. Only now, inexplicably, he seems to be greaser and his drill is also a guitar. The movie is a comedy first and horror film second and while there is quite the body count, it also tends to be at the hands of a goofy, singing greaser.
There are a number of elements of the film that do not age well. For a film about a teenage girl who is in a band, a film with such a musical focus, the music really isn’t all that great. The logic of the killer is largely nonsensical as well, never really committing much to the idea of him being a real person or a dream entity in any convincing way. The story is about as complex as most 80s slashers, so the writing isn’t necessarily doing the film any favors either.
Yet, for the most part, none of this matters because it’s such a fun movie. I tend to love movies despite their flaws. A lot of my enjoyment of this movie comes from an appreciation for a lot of the same things I criticize in the first place. I enjoy how ridiculous the killer is, I like the songs despite the fact they’re fairly lame as far as songs go, and the ending makes no sense at all. The killer quips his way through his murder-spree like a rockabilly Freddy Kreuger.
Hell, the two cops who show up and do nothing for the teens are named Voorhies and Kreuger. It’s not a film that thrives on subtlety. It is one where topless karaoke, food and pillow fights, and light fixture grinding are in ample supply.
JBB was pretty fair with his own assessment of Slumber Party Massacre II, giving it two and a half stars. Among some of the interesting bits regarding the movie was the revelation that Paul Rubens spent time on the set for who knows what reason. Perhaps the best bit for the first half of the night, though, was Joe Bob’s expression of exasperated crew members of a Roger Corman production at 5 AM. If you remember “Demons-Fucking-Five” from the original Last Drive-In marathon then you get the same sort of energy here. Of course, the bits with Joe Bob and Darcy in pajamas were welcome and adorable, but none of the eventual guests were present for the first half of the night.
Basically, the night began with slumber party cheese that was punctuated by Darcy forcing Joe Bob to wear adorable Halloween pajamas, and isn’t that just what we’d expect from a Last Drive-In “Summer Sleepover?” Slumber Party Massacre II may not have been a master class in movie-craft, but it’s the perfect sort of junk food for the soul when you want to spend a night with friends. I can’t really go higher than three Cthulhus, though.(3 / 5)
Best Line: “My… burger’s… weird.” – Courtney
Opening Rant: The Leggings Wars.
So, full disclosure, I have not seen the three prior films in the Hatchet series, of which 2017’s Victor Crowley is the fourth installment. This half of the evening was a Shudder premiere and also was, quite obviously, the main attraction of the night featuring a cavalcade of horror talent clad in their bedtime best. Based on what I saw, however, I will be seeking out the other films in the series. This is good stuff.
The film follows an amateur film crew and a plane of media figures who are going to the swampy remains of the Crowley house. Their paths converge after an accident causes a plane to crash and they are then stalked by the vengeful and murderous Victor Crowley. It’s a simply story, but it pretty much puts the pieces in place right away and then proceeds to break them in fun, messy ways.
The main appeals of the film are clearly outrageous violence and Victor Crowley himself. The film does present some particularly brutal kills, particularly one that turns a veteran horror actress into a human sleeve. As an unstoppable murder machine, Victor Crowley is very much in the mold of Jason Voorhees; hulking, tied to water, apparently undead, and mercilessly disfigured, and as a whole, he works. I am not sure how deep Crowley’s story is, but there is enough there to interest me in seeing the previous films. Truth be told, Victor Crowley is the best Friday the 13th movie I have seen since The New Blood.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the film is that so much of the action is locked to the single location of the downed plane. The film does a good job using the plane and the limited surrounding swamp, but I can’t help but feel that the film spending so much time within the limited location was motivated primarily by budget concerns. Another concern is that the characters were also a bit broadly drawn, skewing more towards cliched archetypes rather than fully-fleshed out characters to cheer for, with the notable exception of Dillon who more or less steals the film as soon as he is introduced. Though admittedly, I am coming into the series in the fourth film, I did find Andrew to be fairly compelling, particularly as he was presented as such a punching bag despite what appeared to be some massive trauma.
Joe Bob was particularly effusive in his praise for the film, which is fair given the level of talent attached to it and present on the set. He gave the film the four-star treatment, but he was not above poking fun at the title a bit. We again have a bit of a Demons situation on hand here. Are we going to see Victor Crowley 2, or will we jump to Hatchet 5? Who knows?
Most of the host segments revolved around the continually growing list of guests and the running gag was quite fun. The amount of talent present was absurd: Felissa Rose, director Adam Green, Kane Hodder, Tiffany Shepis, and Brian Quinn all had their moment to share their thoughts on the film, and there was a great amount of rapport between everyone. What was amazing is that it never got chaotic. It would be crazy to ask the team at The Last Drive-In to pull off such a feat again, but what is The Last Drive-In if not a tribute to excess?
Perhaps the best host segments of the night represented the show running on two different ends. The first was a very intimate and frank discussion on the craft of film with Adam Green. He clutched Ernie, the resident Drive-In mascot, and talked at length about the struggles of making a horror film like the type that the Hatchet series is evoking in spirit. It was a wonderful moment of vulnerability from a talent and a level of insight that seems to come easily around Joe Bob Briggs. This is the sort of horror-nerd end of the Drive-In experience when it comes to host segments, frank, sometimes ugly, sometimes emotional discussions about how the screwed up things we love get made.
The other end of the Drive-In experience was one of emotion and community when Darcy brought out an emotional letter from a fan about his own experiences sharing Joe Bob’s older shows with his father. As these things go, the father eventually passed, but the feelings of love remain even today, as the author describes sometimes talking to his dad when watching the show now. It’s all very powerful and is just another one of those examples of the sort of camaraderie that has sprung from the community.
We know there is more of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs coming, but the horror community as a whole would be well served if Shudder recognizes the show for what it is: a communal touchstone and institution. The smart move is to keep it running for as long as Joe Bob, Darcy, and the rest of the family feel they need to.
Victor Crowley was a great premiere. It’s a quality film and even if Shudder could not show the unedited version, it was still just the right amount of nasty for the night. I feel comfortable giving Victor Crowley four Cthulhus. I do have some issues with it, but for my first Hatchet experience, I am intrigued and wish to see the other films.(4 / 5)
Best Line: “Ten years later, you are like the O.J. Simpson of Honey Island Swamp. Wouldn’t you say?” – Sabrina to Andrew
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
As per tradition, we gotta relay those Drive-In Totals. Thanks for providing them as Tweets, Shudder!
Also tradition? Our own totals! Let’s see what I have in my handy notebook, shall we?
- 2 MST3K Alumns in TLDI (Baron Vaughn and Jonah Ray)
- 5 Sleepover Guests
- 6 Severed Heads
- 9 names in Joe Bob’s list of the Greatest Texas Musicians
- $12,000 Pimple Effect Budget
- $400,000 Real Budget
- Dead Bird
- Suburban Terror
- Swamp People
- 80s Overload
- Topless Boyfriends
- Aborted Axe Throw
- Surprise PeeWee
- Killer Karaoke
- MPAA Blues
- Mangled Vagina
- Verbal Massacre
- Gratuitous Sing-A-Longs
- Gratuitous Slumber Party Girl Fight
- Gratuitous First Marathon Rememberances
- Gratuitous Emotional Letter
- Freudian Fu
- Awkward Genitalia to Light Fixture Grinding Fu
- Chicken Fu
- Gratuitous First-Half Joking
- Ernie Holding Fu
- Aggressive Fisting Fu
- Suicide Dive Fu
- Yuki Sightings: 1
- Silver Bolo Award: Cinamassacre
- Darcy Cosplay: No cosplay, but a very open set of pajamas.
A fun night with a cult classic, a Shudder premiere, and the world’s tiniest pajama top. What’s not to love?(4.5 / 5)
With any luck, we’ll be meeting up again for another event in October, but until then why not check out some of the other content here at Haunted MTL?