Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fans of Slumber Party Massacre: Their Hearts Are Young and Gay

It’s Outfest time in Los Angeles. L.A.’s oldest film festival, founded in 1982 to showcase movies that resonate with the gay community, should draw 40,000 fans over ten days. I suspect a fair number of Outfest’s sixty-four offerings will be outrageous sex comedies and sensitive coming-out-of-the-closet dramas. But there’ll also likely be a horror film or two. From working on the Slumber Party Massacre trilogy, I’ve learned that films of this ilk have a substantial gay following.

The question is—why would a young gay male want to watch a gaggle of pubescent girls in lingerie fend off a rapist/killer/creep armed with a phallic electric drill? For answers, I turned to two experts. Jason Paul Collum, a filmmaker whose work includes Something to Scream About, recently wrote, produced, and directed “Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres.” This documentary is a featured extra in the new Slumber Party Massacre box-set that’s part of Shout! Factory’s Roger Corman collection. Tony Brown, a serious fan of the genre and creator of the Old Hockstatter Place website, helped out as co-writer and associate producer of "Sleepless Nights.” As a gay man, Tony appreciates the Slumber Party movies for “their sense of sisterhood, basically. . . All the girls team up together to help defeat the killer.”

Jason Collum explains that “women-in-jeopardy films as a whole appealed to me as a teenager because I was associating myself with the heroine of each film. I wasn't enjoying watching her get tormented. I was enjoying watching her survive. Overcoming the odds. Here was someone going through the worst time of her life, but she was coming out on top. Battered, bloodied and bruised, she was still beating the bad guys. That's how—in some pseudo-psychological way—I was trying to just get through teen angst and my feeling of everyone being out to get me.”

Growing up, Jason “always hung out with the girls. . . . Most of my childhood was spent adoring my mother and aunts. Strong women, like Wonder Woman, or the women I later viewed in horror films, drew my attention in particular. Maybe it had to do with having something of a more feminine side than most of the straight men in my life.” From his perspective, “when you look at a horror film, and you see an initially defenseless girl who more often than not is being tormented by a brute of a man using some phallic symbol (which Slumber Party Massacre in particular does very pointedly, right down to the ‘castration’ of his ‘big drill’ at the end), I think psychologically there's something going on in a gay man's head.”

Like other gay males I’ve talked to, Jason and Tony value big studio pictures like Brokeback Mountain for teaching the general public to empathize with specifically gay problems. But for their own pleasure, they much prefer the low-budget and the lurid. The movie Tony remembers most fondly from 2005 is not Brokeback Mountain but rather Jason’s shot-on-video October Moon, a gay male version of Fatal Attraction that ends in a pool of blood. Blood, of course, also spurts in the Slumber Party film trio, but Jason too focuses on the camaraderie: “The girls in each film are pretty, enjoyable, and fun-loving. They're the girls you wanted to hang out with in high school. They were strong, independent. . . . Nobody was trying to steal anybody's boyfriend. And once the mayhem begins, they generally stick together.”


  1. Great post, and a curious perspective about those movies! Personally, I would never have thought that a documentary about the SLUMBER series would have been warranted, but it's nice that one was produced as no doubt some interesting stories are on there and some have surfaced right here regarding the making of them!

    I must say that's a fascinating view point from a gay perspective that they were identifying with the females of the cast. It makes perfect sense, but I wouldn't have ever thought about that unless I read it here.

  2. Thanks, Brian. A link to this post on Facebook's Old Hockstatter Place fansite has elicited comments from several more gay men who agree completely with Tony and Jason's premise.

  3. That's really wild - like V5 said - hadn't thought of it - but it makes perfect sense when you read it. And as sordid as these movies could be, still probably a better target for identification than most "lonely outsider" movies which usually don't end well for anyone in them...

  4. Interesting perspective that I would not have thought of.

  5. I'm so glad you checked this out, Wesley (and you too, Mr. Craig).