A salacious and riotous party flick, “Slaughterhouse Slumber Party” is everything you hope it will be — an absolute blast made by and for genre fans.
As a horror journalist and pseudo film scholar, I often discuss the genre’s importance in the pantheon of significant and influential art. While horror films are often dismissed out of hand for being about nothing more than the genre’s base elements — boobs, blood, and carnage — rabid fans understand these films are often about so much more.
However, as much as I love a deeply artistic and thought-provoking genre gem, I’m not of the camp who believes the “elevated” films are the only ones of any value.
And as much I rail against classifying an entire genre as mindless, trashy fun, sometimes there’s nothing more thrilling and more satisfying than film that knows exactly what it wants to be — and doesn’t try to be anything more.
Dustin Wayde Mills’ Slaughterhouse Slumber Party is one of those films.
The press release for the recent digital HD release of the film crossed my desk. I read the plot synopsis:
What started as the debauched annual slumber party for a tight knit group of gal pals becomes a fight for their lives when supernatural evil threatens to destroy the world–and even worse, ruin the one night of the year the ladies get to have a nude pillow fight. Trapped by magic, surrounded by evil, and very underdressed, will they survive the night? Or will this slumber party become a slaughterhouse? SLAUGHTERHOUSE SLUMBER PARTY is the unholy hybrid of HARD TO DIE, EVIL DEAD II, and PARKS & REC the world never knew it needed.
I then watched the cheeky, irreverent, censored but still very NSFW teaser trailer (which you can check out below).
While I knew this was a film that could easily tip the scales of bad taste and groan-inducing humor in favor of something puerile and uninspired, there was the promise of something special. I hoped the WTF intrigue of the trailer would translate into a film that was weighted more towards a mindless but entertaining romp.
I have a surprising amount to say about this film. But let me start by bottom-lining it for you. If you read the description, watched the trailer, and thought, “That sounds like it could be a lot of fun,” I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Slaughterhouse Slumber Party is everything you hope it will be — plus so much more.
If you’re a high brow cinephile with arthouse sensibilities, maybe pass on this title. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, and it doesn’t want to. While there’s a small bit of subtext regarding gender double standards and body positivity, this isn’t a film dying to deliver a message. It’s not here to change the world; it just wants to brighten it a little.
And, damn, does it ever succeed.
Writer/director Mills said about the film:
“I am ready to do some funny, sexy, stupid shit. I need it in my life right now. To be honest, I think the world of horror needs it. The world feels pretty ugly for a lot of us right now, and I think something lighthearted and inventive like SLAUGHTERHOUSE SLUMBER PARTY has the potential to let us all breathe a little bit and just smile for a second.”
I watched this film after a particularly hard day in the middle of a very long week where I — like the rest of the world during these scary and difficult times — was desperate to feel some joy.
From the very first frame, I knew I was in for a treat.
This film is silly and campy and totally over-the-top. It’s loaded with toilet humor, (intentionally) cheesy effects, (intentionally) bad puns and one-liners, a nonsensical plot, and excessive (I don’t say that lightly) amounts of full-frontal female nudity. There’s also some soft-core lesbian porn thrown in for good measure.
Deaths involve a girl getting bisected by a ghost shark, another whose face melts off after getting doused with demon urine, and yet another who gets attacked by demonic titty tentacles (couldn’t make that up if I tried).
Nothing makes a damn bit of sense.
The girls are fully naked or mostly naked about 95% of the time, for absolutely no reason. They all willingly embrace a very inhospitable stranger and don’t seem too terribly bothered by her “quirks”, which include chugging a jug of human blood from her bag, pulling bones out of her vagina, and sneaking off to read from the Necronomicon, fully naked of course.
And, for some inexplicable (albeit hilarious) reason, they constantly stop and speak directly to the camera like they’re all part of a The Office style documentary.
It’s not just crazy. It’s batshit crazy.
And it has no right working as well as it does. But it does work. It works its ass off. And, in spite of everything I just said, it’s a hell of a good time.
Yes, it’s gratuitous and low brow. But it also has enormous heart, a playful and self-aware sense of humor, an impossible-not-to-love cast of incredibly talented women, and an irresistible charm that immediately put a huge smile on my face; a smile that never left.
For those on the fence, let me offer some assurance.
You’ll know in the first five minutes whether this movie is your cup of tea.
It starts with a trailer for a fake movie that features an ass-kicking ghost hunter named Rocket Von Ribcage, whose superpowers are engaged when she dramatically rips off all her clothes and starts battling CGI ghosts and skeletons. It’s as cuckoo bananas as it sounds.
We’re then treated to one of the best animated title sequences I’ve ever seen, backed by the film’s original theme song by Society’s Ugly Son that is honestly too perfect for words.
After the credits, we jump right into the titular slumber party, an annual gathering of a highly diverse but tight-knit group of gal pals. The partygoers agree to abide by three main rules: no fighting, no judgement, and no boys.
I immediately fell in love with the entire cast of Slaughterhouse Slumber Party.
A true ensemble film, every character is completely endearing, and every girl gets her chance to shine. While some are more front and center than others, I found it difficult to pick a favorite.
Everyone was genuinely funny, and each actress perfectly embodied her character — from the party host, a big-hearted Southern belle (Kayla Elizabeth), to a sensitive goth chick with a taste for charmingly bad horror movies (Erin R. Ryan), a free-spirited bookstore owner (Melissa Sue Zahs), a shy librarian (Eve Moreau), and a bad ass cop in training (Roni Jonah), along with her ex-wrestling partner, a feisty bounty hunter (Reagan Wright).
Standouts also include a hard-partying bartender named Courtney (the wickedly funny Haley Madison), an unflappable Russian art teacher named Stoya (Alyss Winkler), and the hilariously deadpan villain, Gretchen (J. Ania Lupia).
Each of these actresses is fully committed to the ridiculousness of the movie they’re a part of, and they all seem to be having an infectiously fun time with the material. The cast has an amazing chemistry, and it really feels like we are watching women who have been friends forever.
This is definitely a film that is heavily focused on the comedy, and it truly delivers on that front. I was surprised at how much I laughed during this movie, from the very beginning to the very end.
And while there’s no attempt here to be scary, this is a film made by passionate horror fans — a heartfelt love letter to the genre.
There are plenty of heavy-handed references to classic horror films like The Evil Dead, Poltergeist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Slumber Party Massacre, and The Exorcist. We also get some great genre-adjacent references to films like Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters.
With indie horror FX legend Marcus Koch on board (whose short but memorable cameo in the film brought me considerable joy), there’s some incredibly fun and gore-tastic effects work that gives horror fans plenty to cheer about.
There is a ton of violence, but it’s all very comedic in nature — featuring stylized, cartoon CGI combined with the kind of highly effective, great looking practical effects you’d expect from someone of Koch’s caliber. A lot of work went into making the inventive kill scenes really stand out. Despite the micro-budget, Dustin Mills really makes the most of every dollar spent. It’s quite an achievement.
One potential turnoff for some viewers may be the copious amounts of female nudity.
I definitely respect any woman who finds the whole thing a bit tasteless. But I will say, as an unapologetic feminist, I did not find it exploitative in any way. These actresses were clearly having fun with the material and relishing in their witty winks to the camera. In one scene, a character asks, “Why are we naked?” and another turns playfully to the camera and asks, “Why not?”
There’s also a bit of dialogue about the nudity double standard between men and women, with one character bemoaning the way our patriarchal culture demonizes bare breasts, demanding to free the nipple. Of course, have no fear about being hit over the head with a preachy social agenda. The very next line is, “I freed my nipples once. I’m not allowed back in that daycare.”
I also loved that this movie showcased a wide range of body types and representations of female beauty. These actresses look like real women, managing to exude considerable sex appeal without trying too hard to look and act sexy.
This is a group of women I’d adore to have a slumber party with — even if it did break out, for no discernible reason at all, into a fully nude pillow fight.
Overall, I found this perfectly paced and laugh out loud party flick to be completely endearing and damn hard not to love.
It looks like a film that was as much fun to make as it is to watch. It wastes no time immersing you in both the insanity and hilarity of the film — neither of which lets up in the slightest, making the sure the audience doesn’t even have a chance to breathe in between clever quips and “What the hell did I just watch?” action.
Practically every line of the film is so utterly quotable — so much so that I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite moment.
If you need a joy-inducing escape from real life horror, I highly recommend Slaughterhouse Slumber Party.
Just turn your brain off and go along for the entertaining ride. As one character in the films asks when talking about her passion for objectively bad movies, “Is it stupid to love something so stupid,” my answer is an emphatic and impassioned, “Hell, no.”