One of  Roger Corman’s key skills is that he knows how to squeeze the max­i­mum amount of com­mer­cial value from any asset.  However, the down­side of that approach is he some­times beats a dead horse in his attempts to get the last few cents’ worth out of said asset.  Case in point: Slumber Party Massacre III.  After two suc­cess­ful entries, it was inevitable that Corman would go for a third.  Unfortunately, the results have a dated, mis­guided feel that ends the series with a whim­per instead of a buzz.

Once again, the story begins with a group of girls gath­er­ing at a house for a slum­ber party while one girl’s par­ents are out of town.  This time, Jackie (Keely Christian) is the nom­i­nal leader who hosts a party for her pals while pon­der­ing whether or not to move to Washington with her par­ents.  However, such con­cerns are ren­dered moot when she and her friends find them­selves under attack from an unseen killer.  With the help of some party-crashing guys, they try to fig­ure out who is attack­ing before it’s too late.  Unfortunately, the killer hap­pens to be much more inti­mately involved with the group than they think…

It’s a boil­er­plate slasher-flick setup but the treat­ment it receives falls far below the aver­age.  The key prob­lem is the script by Catherine Cyran.  Her script undoes the film’s girl-power inten­tions by mak­ing the hero­ines a dull, bubble-headed lot who are vir­tu­ally indis­tin­guish­able from each other and con­sis­tently do stu­pid things so the film­mak­ers can achieve the req­ui­site body count.

Cyran does try a few new wrin­kles — hav­ing a mys­tery killer, devel­op­ing a back­story to give said mys­tery killer a motive — but even those ele­ments are mud­dled.  For starters, the “rea­sons” the killer has for com­mit­ting the killing spree are deployed in an incom­pre­hen­si­ble man­ner (some­thing to do with child­hood abuse and sex­ual dys­func­tion).  It doesn’t help that the clumsy plot­ting makes it easy to fig­ure out who the killer is a good reel or so before its actu­ally revealed — and it plays out in a way that makes the other char­ac­ters look like com­plete morons for fail­ing to fig­ure it out.

To make mat­ters worse, the film suf­fers from weak direc­tion by Sally Mattison.  With the excep­tion of an clumsily-staged killing near the begin­ning, the first thirty min­utes is a com­plete snooze.  Once the killings begin, the set­pieces are staged in a flat, care­less style that saps any kinetic energy the film might have achieved (she also fluffs many intended jump scares).  Similarly, her hand­ing of actors is care­less, result­ing in per­for­mances that are either dull or annoy­ingly hammy.  Her indif­fer­ent han­dling of the mate­r­ial results in a tired and joy­less piece of work.

In fact, Slumber Party Massacre III only has one gen­uinely effec­tive scene: it occurs near the end when the killer cor­ners one of the coeds (played by then-regular Corman actress Maria Ford) and she tries to use reverse psy­chol­ogy to defuse his rage.  For about a minute, the film achieves ten­sion and dis­plays some effec­tive act­ing from the under­rated Ford.  Unfortunately, the scene lapses into stu­pid­ity when she only makes a half­hearted attempt to escape and gets drilled to death while top­less.  It ends up being the tack­i­est scene in the entire series and acci­den­tally por­trays the kind of misog­yny that the other two films are wrongly accused of (even the direc­tor is uncom­fort­able with this scene, which was added as a reshoot).

There was never another offi­cial sequel in the series (years later, Jim Wynorski’s Cheerleader Massacre would fea­ture a char­ac­ter from the series and some stock footage from the first film but that’s as close as any­one got to a 4th Slumber Party Massacre film).  It’s just as well because Slumber Party Massacre III revealed the series to be cre­atively exhausted.  Even vet­eran recy­clers must rec­og­nize when it’s time to give up.

The Slumber Party Massacre Collection

The Slumber Party Massacre Collection

As a spe­cial thank you for order­ing from ShoutFactory.com, we’re giv­ing away this amaz­ing gift-with-purchase! It’s a 30″ x 20″ (queen-sized) lim­ited edi­tion Slumber Party Massacre pil­low­case! Perfect for when you invite your friends over for a triple-feature (because you know you won’t want to sleep alone after). Offer valid while sup­plies last.Click to Enlarge

WARNING: This Trailer Gives Away The Killer’s Identity…