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Children of the Corn (2023), Dance of the Dead, Under the Skin, The Night House, and the Slumber Party Massacre (both versions)
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 225
We’ve got our usual lineup of four movies and a short film this week— This time, it’s another wild assortment of weirdness!
This week, we’ll watch the brand-new reboot of “Children of the Corn” from 2023, then the older, but still funny “Dance of the Dead” from 2008, the weird, sci-fi-ish, “Under the Skin” from 2013, and the terrifying “Night House” from 2020.
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For our bonus reviews over at horrorbulletin.com, we have both versions of:
• “The Slumber Party Massacre” (1982)
• And “Slumber Party Massacre” (2021)
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
1. NEW! “The Horror Guys Guide to the Films of Peter Cushing” is available now at all the usual places, including our web store: https://brianschell.com/b/cushing. This is one of our biggest books yet, looking at all fifty of Cushing’s horror films and eight of his other influential movies.
2. FREE! “The Horror Guys Guide to The Halloween Films” is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/b/halloween. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note, that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
Here. We. Go!
Children of the Corn (2023)
• Directed by Kurt Wimmer
• Written by Kurt Wimmer, Stephen King
• Stars Elena Kampouris, Kate Moyer, Callan Mulvey
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This could either take place years after the first movie, or it could be a reboot leading to the first movie taking place in the future. There’s some strong performances and good effects and issues you have to work hard not to nitpick. It’s decent but not great.
We open on Rylstone Children’s Home, where a little girl watches Boyd stagger in from the cornfield. He picks up a knife and a gun and says, “I don’t want you to cry anymore, Eden. Don’t worry, nothing ever really dies in the corn.” Boyd then stabs a man and kills all the adults in the children’s home. The police pump in knock-out gas to get Boyd to calm down. We see lots of dead kids on the floor.
We see the headline that fifteen people died inside. Pastor Penney comes to the police station to talk to Eden, the only survivor of the incident. He wants her to come live with him. As credits roll, we see the town of Rylstone is looking pretty bleak. A lot of the stores have closed down.
Cecil and Boleyn Williams, walk through the rotting cornfield and she reveals that she’s going off to college next week. He whines that with his grades, he’ll be stuck in this “creepy, dying place” forever.
Eden rides up on her horse; she’s infatuated with the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. It looks like Eden and her many friends are making some kid “walk the plank” from a water tower. Calder Covington comes out of the field and yells that the kids have broken out the window in his car.
Bo and Calder go off together. He turned 18 last week, and he’s growing weed to make enough money to get out of town.
There’s a town meeting. Robert, Bo’s father, blames “Big Corn” and GMOs. Pastor Penney says it has more to do with their moral and spiritual failings. Another man wants to simply accept subsidies and never grow corn again. Bo says she disagrees with both of them, all they do is argue and sell their souls to different masters—they need to restore the soil. They take a vote, completely ignoring the many children in the room. One guy takes umbrage to children wanting to vote, and everyone laughs at the kids. The measure to plow over the corn and take subsidies instead passed.
Eden goes out into the cornfield to cry in embarrassment, and the corn reaches out to comfort her. As the tractors and threshers get ready to dig up the cornfields, Eden talks to the children. Bo calls her father a sellout, and he seems to agree.
Cecil walks down the street and overhears arguing in every house. Eden comes out of the dark and says, “I can help—with your pain.” She leads him out to the cornfield, where a bunch of kids sit in a circle singing. They go on a little further and he sees… it.
Bo talks to her teenage friends about contacting an Internet reporter to help with the town’s problems. Bo catches Eden and all the children painting the corn roots red with the blood of pigs. Bo tells Eden and all the kids to spread the word about a secret town meeting tonight at the town hall. She asks Cecil, “Are we making a mistake?”
Robert and his wife wake up in handcuffs. Bo and Cecil tell them they’re to be witnesses at a trial. The group drives to the town hall and finds only Eden. She says, “You were late, so we just went ahead and did it. The trial.” Inside, Bo finds Calder’s father hanging from his neck.
The group walks through town, which is now very much on fire. They arrive at the police station, where most of the adults are locked in a cell. Bo and the teenagers aren’t involved with any of this, it’s all the little kids. Calder tries to do something, and he’s immediately beaten to death. Eden puts on a gas mask and fills the jail full of the same poison gas that killed all the kids at the orphanage.
Most of the adults, including Bo’s mother, wake up in a deep pit out by the cornfield. Eden gives the command, and boys in tractors fill in the hole.
Bo warns her two teenage friends to get out of town and be safe, but she’s going to stay and help free her father. Eden tells her, “Putting them on trial was your idea. What did you think would happen? Whose side are you on?” She intends to send the remaining prisoners out into the cornfield to feed “He Who Walks.”
Eden talks to Pastor Penney about sinning. He didn’t sin against the corn, but he did… something she wants revenge for. The kids pull his eyes out one at a time before releasing an inhuman roar. The rest of the adults are led into the cornfield. They go willingly because they don’t realize there’s really something in there. We notice that the corn has been getting greener and thicker.
Eden demonstrates that she’s captured the reporter that Bo had called. They carry the woman to the barn, where Bo finds her two friends hanging from the rafters, dead. They hang the reporter up and call for “He Who Walks.” Bo swears that “He” isn’t real.
Then He arrives, absolutely, positively real. It drags the reporter off into the dense, green corn. They knock Bo out and pour fuel all over her. Bo convinces Eden that the whole barn would explode, so she orders them to chop her up instead.
Bo runs for it out into the cornfield, trailing gasoline behind her. She finds her father and others, all dead. She gets a good look at He Who Walks, and he’s basically a big, green Groot.
He chases her through the cornfield. Groot roars like a dinosaur and walks right past her—nope, jump scare! It grabs her, and she stabs it with an old machete and runs off.
She runs to Calder’s abandoned car and looks for the keys. They’re inside, but didn’t Calder mention that the gas tank had a hole in it? It’s not going far. She barely makes it to the road before the car dies. Not only that, but Eden’s hiding in the back seat with a cattle gun. Bo uses the cigarette lighter from the ancient car to ignite spilled gasoline.
Between the leaking fuel from the car, and the trail she left behind her, the fire finds it all the way back to the barn, which explodes and sets the rest of the cornfield on fire. Everything burns.
Bo gloats, “Your fantasy is finished Eden.” Eden glowers as a burning Groot comes out behind her. She walks into the cornfield as the monster follows her. Then everything burns some more, and we see the monster burn up.
Bo goes out to the field the next day and finds a burned-up Eden out there. “Relax Bo, nothing ever really dies in the corn.” Then she sprouts tendrils and kills Bo.
Kate Moyer, as Eden, is really very good as the psychotic little Eden. Elena Kampouris, as Bo, wasn’t as good, and wasn’t convincing as a teenager, but I suspect that was due to unrealistic writing, not necessarily her acting.
This one doesn’t offer the same religious evangelism that Isaac did in the original film; Eden’s just evil— because. The original was also making a statement on evangelicals, cults, and religious fanatics; this one is just a mind-controlling monster who lives in a cornfield.
The monster effects were decent, but the logic behind that much fuel not evaporating and still making a burnable line that far away is just ridiculous. It wasn’t awful taken on its own, but it pales in comparison to the original and really didn’t need to be made.
Dance of the Dead (2008)
• Directed by Gregg Bishop
• Written by Joe Ballarini
• Stars Jared Kusnitz, Greyson Chadwick, Chandler Darby
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s loaded with dark humor and bucketloads of gore. This was another one that surprised us with how entertaining it was. There’s a little bit of a slow start as they set up the characters and go through some teen drama, but once it gets going it’s a wild ride.
We open on the caretaker of a cemetery, doing all the usual caretaker-y things, but occasionally, he hears a faint moaning. Suddenly, an arm shoots up out of the grave and chokes him until he gets his clippers and cuts its hand off. He puts it in his box with a bunch of others and covers it up. Credits roll.
It’s the night of the Cosa High School Prom. Jimmy and Lindsey talk about the prom during biology class. Steven and Gwen don’t want to dissect their frog, but the teacher forces them. Jimmy and Steven wind up in detention with Kyle, the redneck punk. Steven’s friends are the school nerds, but Gwen wants to invite Nash, the “van guy” to the prom instead. Nash says he’d rather chew his own tongue out than go to the prom.
We get a getting-ready-for-prom montage with most of the characters we’ve already met. Steven and the nerds go to the cemetery instead with their electronic devices. They meet the gravedigger. Meanwhile, Mitch and Lindsey are making out in a parked car at the same cemetery.
Steven’s group goes to a mausoleum and goes inside. It’s got a coffin lying on the floor for some reason, so they have to open it. It’s empty! A zombie grabs Rod and eats his brains as the others run away. Mitch also gets eaten, and Lindsay sees a whole gaggle of zombies. The gravedigger hears her screams and goes to work; he tells Steven’s group to smash them in the brain to kill them. Zombies are soon literally leaping out of the ground.
Back at school, the prom commences. In the biology lab, the teacher has a run-in with undead animal specimens and is killed by a zombie frog. Jimmy runs into Kyle, but some zombies steal Jimmy’s car. Kyle has a gun, which is useful until he almost shoots Gwen. The three of them battle hordes of zombies and find out that zombies disassemble rather easily.
Nash and his band buddies soon figure out that the dead are paralyzed by music.
Lindsey sees Jimmy’s car, but Jimmy’s not driving. She calls Jimmy, who promises to come after her. Lindsey, Steven, and Kyle take a shortcut through the sewers. The tunnels are full of green goop, waste from the nuclear plant, that has been seeping into the ground to reanimate the dead. Soon, everyone is barricaded in a big old house. Then they realize they’re in a funeral home full of reanimated bodies. They fight them all off, but Kyle gets bitten and dies. Kyle gets up again in no time, and he’s even meaner than before.
Jimmy wants to go to the prom and save everyone there. Gwen breaks out and steals the hearse to drive the others to the prom. They meet up with the coach, who’s a crazy prepper-type with weapons ready to go. They rescue Nash and the band, who are getting exhausted from jamming out. Nash thinks they are attracted to music, like bees in a hive.
They arrive too late; everyone at the school is dead. The coach wants to wire the whole place with explosives, and he’s prepared for that. He gets it all set up, but then he drops the detonator remote in the gym.
Jimmy needs to go in after it, and Lindsey goes in with him; she doesn’t want to miss the prom. They’re soon surrounded, and it looks grim, but suddenly, Nash and his friends climb the stage and start playing, which distracts the dead long enough for Jimmy and Lindsey to get in a dance.
Gwen confides to Stephen that she’s been bitten. That goes badly for him—sorta.
One of the zombies accidentally pulls the plug on the music, and then there’s a free-for-all. Pandemonium ensues as most of the heroes escape. Jimmy and Lindsey kiss as the school explodes.
What’s left of the group decides to head to the power plant and blow it up too, since they all figure that’s where this started. But first, the coach drives them all to get pancakes…
The gore and creature effects are surprisingly good. The humor is surprisingly good. The action scenes are surprisingly good. Everything was good.
The only thing scarier than prom is zombies, so overall, it’s a good zom-com.
Short Film: Make Me a Sandwich (2023)
• Directed by Denman Hatch
• Stars Anne Shepherd, Peter Gidgins
• Run Time: 3:00
• Watch it:
“Where’s my sandwich!” Screams the grumpy looking old man. His wife Marcie tries to start knitting, but he wants another sandwich. He’s impatient and rude, so she put dish soap on his bologna.
It’s not long before he wants another one. What will she put in that?
Now I’m hungry!
It’s really short, well filmed and looks good. The end was unexpected, which is also great!
Under the Skin (2013)
• Directed by Jonathan Glazer
• Written by Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer, Michael Faber
• Stars Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mckay
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is slow-moving, but we thought it was still entertaining. It’s visually beautiful and interesting. A lot is unexplained, but we were okay with that. It’s definitely an artsy, indie kind of movie despite having such a big name in the lead, so it’s not for everyone but the Horror Guys liked it.
We get long, lingering shots of an eyeball before the credits roll.
We cut to someone riding a motorcycle on a dark road. He stops and goes off the road to pick up an unconscious woman and put her in the back of a truck.
We cut to someone undressing the woman in a pure white room. The woman doing the undressing is naked as well, and she puts on the other woman’s clothes. We see that they have similar faces.
The woman then goes to a shopping mall, where she gets a fur coat and some lipstick. She stops her truck several times to talk to men alongside the road for directions. One guy admits he doesn’t have any family, so she lets him get into the truck. She eventually takes one home with her and they both undress. He then sinks into the floor and vanishes. What?
During the day, she watches a swimmer at the beach. He says he’s living in a little tent on the beach. She watches the man try to rescue a drowning man and his wife. They both die, and the man is upset, but our woman doesn’t seem to care much– she whacks him with a rock and drags him right past the dead man’s abandoned baby, whom she ignores. The man on the motorcycle then goes to the swimmer’s tent and collects the man’s stuff– and the baby.
She goes to a club and meets a single guy who ends up in the dark room with the magic sinking floor. We see the man sink into what looks like black tar, but beneath there, it’s like he’s underwater, but he can breathe and sees another man down there, the previous victim– until the previous victim sort of dissolves into nothing but empty skin.
The next day, she meets up with the man on the motorcycle and they stare at each other for a long time. Later, she’s walking down the street and face-plants into the pavement. She drives around all day, seemingly just watching people.
Next, she picks up a man with a disfigured face. She tries to seduce the ugly man, but he’s very suspicious. She has him touch her face, then her neck, and she compliments his hands. She eventually convinces him to go with her to the black room, and that ends just like the others. Later, we see him walking naked through a field outside of town– she released him. The motorcycle man catches up to him and finishes him off.
The woman parks on the side of the road and walks into a fog bank. She goes to a restaurant and has a slice of amazing-looking cake. She tries to take a bite and spits it up; food doesn’t seem to agree with her. Rather than getting back in her own truck, she takes a bus. She meets a man on the bus who takes her home with him. Neither of them has much to say, but he gives her her own bedroom and leaves her alone.
The next morning, they go for a walk and see an old castle. They stop for a romantic kiss inside. They go home, and she lets him undress her.
We see that the motorcycle man is out looking for the woman by this point, and he doesn’t look happy. She stops halfway through sex and looks at her pelvic area as if she didn’t know it worked like that.
She leaves him and goes out for a walk in the woods. She runs into a logger who tells her all about the trails. She finds a hiker’s shelter and goes inside as it rains. The logger comes in while she’s sleeping and tries feeling her up, but she runs off. He chases her, catches her, tears her clothes off, and then he tears her skin.
He runs off, and she realizes that her skin has been torn open. She removes her face, and she’s just a shiny, hairless black thing underneath. The logger comes back and pours kerosene on the alien and lights it.
The motorcycle man sees the smoke from her burning body.
It’s a very visual, very artsy movie, with lots of lingering, colorful shots of… places and things. The woman acts oddly all through the movie, and then when she tries to eat, we see that maybe she’s not human. There’s almost no dialogue except when she’s trying to seduce men into her truck, so for most of what’s going on, you have to figure it out for yourself.
Scarlett Johansson was a fairly big star already by the time this was made, but this is definitely not a Hollywood production. She actually picked up most of the men off the street for real, and her questions for them were unscripted. They were told later that they were part of a movie.
It’s super slow-moving, but for some reason, it wasn’t boring. Still, I can definitely say that this one isn’t going to be for everyone. Other than the fact that the woman turns out to be an alien, nothing is really explained.
The Night House (2020)
• Directed by David Bruckner
• Written by Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
• Stars Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 47 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is one that really leaves you wondering what is going on throughout it, right through the ending. And that’s a good thing. The effects, acting, script, and everything about this one is a win. Very entertaining and chilling.
We get views of a nice country home on the lake as the credits roll. Beth comes in alone, carrying a cooked meal, leaving her friend outside to leave. She dumps the food, pan and all, into the trash. She drinks heavily and watches her old wedding videos. It soon becomes obvious that she was returning from her husband’s funeral in the previous scene.
There’s a knock downstairs, but when she goes to investigate, there’s no one there. Is that a man’s reflection in the glass?
Morning comes, and Beth goes out. She sees the gate to the dock is open and also what looks like bloody footprints leading off the end of the dock up to her deck. She then hears a shot and jumps. It’s just somebody hunting or something.
She goes to school for teacher training and sits with her friend Claire. Hunter’s mom, Becky, comes to see her to argue about her son’s “C” in speech. Beth tells her that her husband took a boat out onto the lake and shot himself in the head Thursday. Becky is suitably appalled and leaves as quickly as she can.
When she goes home, her friend Mel is there, and he offers to haul away that rowboat. She notices the bloody prints are gone. She mentions that even though her husband Owen built the house, she is thinking of selling it. That night, she puts his clothes in the donation bag and puts away all the photos. She also finds a book of plans for the house they built. The plans show off, mazelike rooms under the house. What?
Late that night, the stereo turns itself on and wakes Beth up. She gets a text from Owen, “Come down. Don’t be afraid.” She calls Owen’s phone, and someone picks up. “Look out the window.” She sees a naked man standing out in the lake—and then she wakes up. In the morning, there’s no record of anything on her phone.
She charges and checks out his phone, but there’s nothing there either. Except she starts finding photos of other women. Maybe. It’s either Beth or someone who looks just like her.
She goes out to drink with colleagues and says she thinks there’s a ghostly presence in her house. She mentions that Owen used to sleepwalk, and now she’s doing it. One of them asks if Owen left a note, and she whips it right out and lets them read it. “You were right, there is nothing. Nothing is after you. You’re safe now.”
Beth tells Claire later that in high school she was in an accident and died briefly. People would ask what she saw, and she always lied about it. She saw… nothing. Now she’s not so sure that there’s nothing since she’s been experiencing some weirdness.
Late that night, she’s awakened from sleep by the whole house shaking. She hears someone outside again and goes to investigate. Several women run right past her and jump off the cliff, but there are no bodies. She looks up and sees a house on the other side of the lake; when she looks again, the lights have gone out. She hears the word “Boat” and goes down to investigate. She passes out in the boat.
The boat stops, and Beth wakes up. She’s arrived at that other house. The house looks just like her house, and there are women in the house that all look similar to Beth. Owen’s in there too. She wakes up back in her own home.
She goes through Owen’s computer and looks at photos there. It looks like Owen was stalking a large number of women who resemble her. She asks Mel about a house on the other side of the lake, and he says it’s all National Forest, and they can’t build on it. Still, she keeps on looking, and she does find it, except it looks like it was unfinished and still under construction. She picks up a weird statue inside.
Beth confronts Mel about the duplicate house out in the woods; Mel doesn’t know anything. Mel admits that he caught Owen once taking that same route, and he had a woman with him. Owen told Mel that he “had urges” that he needed to fulfill.
She finds a book in Owen’s things on Caerdroia, inverted mazes, and they are intended to confuse or mislead dark forces. She goes to the bookstore that sold him the book. She meets Madelyne, the woman in one of the photos. She does look a lot like Beth, but she swears she never slept with Owen. What was he doing with all those women if it wasn’t sex?
That evening Madelyne comes over, saying, “I’ve been here before.” Owen invited her over and showed her the other house. He asked her to hold a weird statue and then tried to strangle her until she told him to stop. He then drove her home. He told her that he had to end it for good.
Later, Beth walks through the rain to the other house. She steps through a weak board in the floor and finds bodies down there. Owen must have been a serial killer. She calls Claire and leaves a cryptic voicemail. Then the ghost shows up; he hugs her. Then it says, “No. I’m not Owen.”
She then watches a reflection as Owen kills her lookalike in the mirror. It then slams her head into the mirror in the same way. She walks into the next room, and everything is reversed. She then watches various scenes of Owen killing dark-haired women as a strange shadow-man watches.
The dark man says they men way back when her heart stopped. “You saw me, and I’ve been with you ever since.” He wanted Owen to kill Beth, but he wouldn’t do it. “He sent me them instead.” It then picks her up and strangles her. She watches as Owen sits in his boat and talks. “He thought he could protect you; he was wrong. Come back to me.”
The next morning, Claire comes over. She sees that Owen’s gun is missing and looks outside to see Beth sitting in the boat, alone with a gun.
Beth chooses not to end things. Claire and Mel help her out of the boat. Mel sees a black shadow sitting in the boat.
This is really good. You have no idea where it’s going or what Owen was really up to. Is he a ghost? Was he a serial killer? Could it be something worse? Are Beth’s problems really over? Nothing was really resolved with the shadow-man; she didn’t kill herself today, but is it really going to stop?
The acting is good, and the setting is good. Everything is dark but lit enough to tell what’s going on at all times. The not-really-there-but-visible look of the shadow demon is really cool.
The ending is very ambiguous. The thing’s just gonna come after her again tomorrow, right?
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
• Directed by Amy Holden Jones
• Written by Rita Mae Brown, Amy Holden Jones
• Stars Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Debra DeLiso
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 17 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It moves well and is entertaining. The killer isn’t as iconic as some have been, but they get the job done. The sense of isolation and being trapped is a little exaggerated, but it’s forgivable.
The newspaper headline reads, “Mass Murderer of 5 Russ Thorn Escapes.” Trish wakes up and puts some toys in a bag as we hear about Russ Thorn on the radio again. Her parents are going away for the weekend. She throws the toys away as she leaves the house, and we see someone steal them afterward.
Neil and Jeff, two guys at the high school hit on the phone repair woman, and as they walk away, the killer drills her in the back of her van.
The two guys go inside and whistle at Valerie, the new girl at school as she plays basketball. After practice, we get a gratuitous shower scene of the team. Trish asks her friends to invite Valerie to the party. Diane’s a snob and says mean things about Valerie, but Valerie overhears the whole thing. On the way out, Linda goes back inside and gets locked inside. The killer chases her around the school with his long drill, but she’s not too hard to follow with a blood trail.
Football player John Minor follows Diane home; he wants her to skip the party tonight. We get a few jump scares as the various girls prepare for their party. Neil and Jeff make plans to scare the girls later. Mr. Contant from next door is pretty laid back when he finds the weed and beer. Neil and Jeff watch through the window as the girls all strut around in their underwear. Meanwhile, Valerie and sister Courtney are next door doing homework and stuff.
Mr. Contant goes outside with a butcher knife to kill snails (people do that?), but the killer gets him. Suddenly, the lights go out. When they go out to the garage to fix the fuse box, they find Jeff and Neil.
Diane gets John to park his car in the garage where they make out. He winds up without a head, but she gets the drill. The pizza guy arrives, but he’s lost his eyes, which puts a damper on the party.
Valerie hears screaming next door and calls her coach. Courtney wants to investigate the screams.
Trish talks Jeff and Neal into running to Mr. Contant’s house for help—bodies and construction equipment are discovered. The killer starts storing bodies in the trunk of John’s car, but he soon runs out of room. The killer soon finds his way inside and kills Jackie.
Valerie finally comes over to see what’s going on and calls for them, but Trish and Kim are afraid to answer. She soon leaves without finding anything, but the killer does find them and stabs Kim. Courtney and Valerie soon find Kim’s body, and then the killer comes looking for them as well. The killer throws the pizza guy’s body in the basement, then lays down in the same spot and covers himself with a blanket.
The coach arrives to make sure everything’s OK and she finds the body in the living room. When she pulls the sheet up, she gets the drill. Meanwhile, Trish goes out to the garage and gets a rotary saw but forgets that hers has a wire—the killer’s drill is cordless. The three girls gang up on the killer, but the coach ends up disemboweled.
Valerie chases the killer outside with a machete. She hacks off the end of the drill. Then his hand goes along too. One more hack, and he falls into the pool. He’s gotta be dead, right? Nope! He jumps out and attacks Valerie, but lands on the machete instead.
There are a lot of scenes of people walking around in the dark backyard where not much happens. This all happened in a quiet, suburban neighborhood. The girls could have walked to any of the neighbor’s houses as a group without any problems, but that probably would have necessitated putting on pants.
It’s a basic, by-the-numbers slasher movie. The killer’s not as interesting as Michael or Jason, but it’s well-made, looks good, and doesn’t slow down at any point.
Slumber Party Massacre (2021)
• Directed by Danishka Esterhazy
• Written by Suzanne Keilly
• Stars Hannah Gonera, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Mia Rayne
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 26 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was surprisingly fun. In a horror movie kind of way. There’s still the body count and gore, but it’s a bit of a parody of itself changing up some gender tropes. It’s a worthy remake that was as good if not better than the original.
It’s 1993. Chad asks Trish if she’s cheating on him, but she says she’s broken up with him. She and three friends are having… a slumber party.
Chad watches through a window and sees someone watching through a window on the other side of the house. There’s a man there with a huge drill, and soon Chad is no more. They find Kim’s body in the kitchen and then the lights go out and the phone stops working. Jackie tells her that Diane is dead too and then admits that she’s the one who slept with Chad. The killer kills Diane with a big CGI drill that isn’t fooling anyone. He drills through Trish’s hand and then chases her out to the dock. She knocks him out and he sinks into the lake… as credits roll.
In Los Angeles, today, we hear about “The Driller Killer” on the news. His body was never found. Trish now has a daughter, Dana, and she’s a little paranoid about safety. Dana and her three friends hop in the car and head out into the country. They find someone hiding in the backseat—oh, it’s just Alix, whom they didn’t invite.
They break a belt on the car and have to stop for the night. One of the girls notices posters for many missing animals in the area. The lady in the store says it’s probably bears eating them. Dana notices a phone company van that looks just like the one in the previous film. Kay, the woman at the store, says she’s got a place they can stay. She warns them to stay inside and stay safe, then leaves. The mechanic stops by with the part they need, but he runs into the Driller Killer instead.
Alix goes out for a walk in the woods at night and finds the mechanic’s truck and body. She runs back to the house and has everyone lock the doors and windows. She remembers hearing the Driller Killer’s story on a true crime podcast. The other girls think it’s a cool story and each of them pulls out a weapon. They not only know the story, but they also came here to hunt Russ Thorn. They’ve been planning this for a year.
John and Matt come to visit. They’re neighbors renting a place nearby. They also heard the murder story on the podcast, and they’re staying in the actual murder house. The girls decide that they are likely to be killed off by the murderer, so they decide to follow them home to protect them. The girls arrive at the cabin just in time to watch all the shirtless guys having a pillow fight and dousing each other with beer. Maeve asks, “Are they out-slumberpartying us?”
Suddenly, the lights go out, and Guy gets drilled in the middle of everyone. The three guys want to split up and search, but the girls say that’s a stupid idea. The women really go all out to justify not calling the police. They hear the drill and all run in separate directions.
Dana finds the killer first, and he chases her through the woods. One of the guys interrupts the killer with a huge electric guitar, but that’s as stupid as it sounds and works about the same. Dana swings at the killer with a machete and… it kills him. Alix then charges out and stabs him a hundred times after it’s too late.
The next morning, Russ Thorn’s body is still there, he’s really dead. John and Matt come out of the woods and watch Dana continue to mutilate the body. They decide to go back to their cabin, call the police, and hide until they arrive. Alix is told to watch the body, but she thinks that sucks and goes inside.
Over at the men’s camp, we get a gratuitous shower scene. Someone gets him from behind with an electric saw. Ashley works on repairing their truck and gets eaten by the radiator fan. Dana looks out the window and sees that Russ’s body is gone. There’s someone outside shooting nails from a nail gun at them; Breanie gets it in the eye.
Suddenly, Alix starts vomiting. Maeve figures that the cookies she’s been eating may have been bad. John and Dana accuse each other of trying to kill each other. He drives off in the car and leaves Dana alone. Dana soon runs into Key, who says she is out snail hunting. Dana talks about killing the killer, but Kay says the killer died decades ago. Kay rants about the stupid podcasts that keep harping about “that one incident…”
Kay turns on Dana. Kay was Russ Thorn’s mother. She gave them poison cookies so they wouldn’t tempt her son. They call names and then stab one another.
The door slams open and angry Trish storms in. “Dana, you didn’t call me!”
Trish and Kay fight hand-to-hand. Dana goes back inside to help and watches Trish stab Kay with Russ’s drill.
It started off fairly predictably but soon went on a self-parody as everything you expect is just the opposite of what happens. The guys have the pillow fight and get all the naked shower scenes this time around while the girls are the tough ones—at least until they find they’re up against another girl.
It was good.
It’s not at all meant to be taken seriously, but it was far better than we expected.
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