My Take by Jim Carl
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982)
I'd always heard about Slumber Party Massacre, but had never seen it til last night on NetFlix. My roommate was asleep down the hall and so I had to watch the entire movie at a sound level so low that only the sounds of screams and power drills were discernible. That was okay with me because when you're watching a movie about a group of babes being drilled to death by a psychopath, the dialogue is the first thing I can do without. The only thing I clearly remembered reading about this movie was that it was written, produced, and directed by a woman. Thirty years ago, that was a big thing. Horror movies were gaining a notorious reputation in the press, especially by Siskel and Ebert, who were denouncing the violence towards women in these pictures. The Equal Rights Ammendment had been a much-discussed topic in the 1970s and, I dunno...I suppose that someone had the bright idea to let a group of women make a horror movie and see if things turned out any differently. What a surprise it was to everyone when it turned out that Slumber Party Massacre had even more gratutitous female nudity and on-screen violence than almost anything directed by a man. Watching the film last night, this came as no surprise to me. Men take scores. Women take scalps. Ask anyone who's been in a relationship. I doubt that this was a script delivered to Jane Fonda, Jill Clayburgh, or Goldie Hawn.
Did I like the movie? Sure, on some dumb, nostalgic level, it was fun to experience a true 80's grindhouse flick. I could tick off the cliches on the tips of my fingers, and that only enhanced the experience. Unncessary shower scene in the girl's locker room? This one has scenes that must be seen to be believed. The camera does not so much linger as lock-on to its targets. If it had been directed by a man, the cries of mysogyny would surely have been deafening. Over-the-top gore? Let's just say that the MPAA must have had several restless nights before awarding Slumber Party an "R" rating. Nonsensical plot? There is no plot, just scenes of half-naked women awaiting puncture by a power drill. The film runs a tight 78 minutes and I can honestly say that I was never bored. I am a child of the 80s and I love this kind of stuff. To almost anyone under the age of 30, however, the experience would undoubtedly have been excruciating.
Let me tell you why I believe this is true.
More and more these days, I'm reading comments on the Internet by the younger generation about this current wave of 80s nostalgia that seems to be rising among the aging members of Generation X, of which I am one. Many don't understand all the fuss and are first in line to criticize anything filmed before 1994, the year which Pulp Fiction unspooled in theatres, and which has seemingly place-marked an entire generation's taste in movies. This makes sense if you're of a certain age. Pulp Fiction was probably the first adult-oriented movie most members of Generation Y have a memory of seeing on VHS, with the possible exception of Jurassic Park. Anything prior to Pulp Fiction is an "old movie" and now eligible for consideration in the National Film Registry. I do not begrudge this opinion. After all, it was Mr. Spielberg's Jaws in 1975 which place-marked my own generation's taste in movies, with the possible exception of Star Wars. How vividly I recall my elders decrying the fact that Generation X could not appreciate a good old-fashioned popcorn movie like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cat Ballou, or West Side Story. Nothing interested us but nudity and gore, they told us. And they were right. To those of us born unto the Baby Boomers, anything lensed before that Great White Shark leapt aboard the Orca was indeed meant for people in nursing homes. What goes around, they say, does indeed come back around, it seems. And bites you in the ass.
I've gotten a lot of flack for claiming that Pulp Fiction is my least favorite movie of all time. People seem to think I'm talking about the movie itself, as if I can't appreciate a well-written film when I see one. They have it all wrong. Pulp Fiction marked the first time in my life that I realized a newer generation had replaced my own as the dominant force in pop culture. (Alas, it would not be the only time this has happened since.) When Pulp Fiction exploded at theatres in 1994, I remember saying to myself, "When did I get old? Is this what generation gap means? It does? Well, it sucks." It's an important lesson to experience. It changes you. It should. I resent this movie not because of what it did to a generation of filmmakers and movie-goers, but because of what it did to me. Its mere existence pushed me out of the front of the line, if you know what I'm saying. I felt outraged to not be part of the target demographic for this movie, not even part of the generation for which it was meant. It was coldly unsettling, this feeling; knowing that I was irrelevant. My approval was not required. My disapproval was inconsequential. It was the first time I felt, clearly, that a film didn't need me, not in the slightest. Pulp Fiction would succeed or fail without my input, whatsoever. And become a new generation's milestone, it did. Pulp Fiction, at least to me, marked the exact moment in movie history where Generation X passed the torch onto Generation Y. And for that reason alone, I will forever have negative associations toward it.
Do you have a movie that made you self-aware that you were getting old? That a newer generation had replaced your own as the dominant force in pop culture? What was that movie? Tell me about it.