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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Slumber Party Massacre Collection



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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted October 17 2010 - 08:36 AM

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THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE COLLECTION
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Distributor:Shout! Factory
Packaging/Materials: Double disc DVD Keepcase
Year: 1982, 1987, 1990
Rating: R
Running Time: 241 minutes
MSRP: $34.99




THE FEATURE

SPECIAL FEATURES

Video

480p 1.78:1 & 1.33:1

SD

Audio

Dolby Digital mono and stereo

DD2.0

Subtitles

none

N/A


The Feature: 2/5


I like to run in road races to challenge my body physically and my mind mentally.  It doesn’t matter if its 5km, 10km, 15km or a marathon, the brain thinks the same thing with the known end in mind.  It’s quite easy for the brain to give up first before the body is willing so a lot of preparation is needed beforehand to overcome these hurdles.  Just before any race, I’m prepped and ready to take on the world while looking at my competitors beside me and the long road ahead.  A rush of excitement floods through my veins when the gun fires the runners dash from the starting line – what a great feeling!  I feel like I’ve got everything I need to succeed and make it to the finish line.


But after running on a high for a while, my brain starts to feel a bit exhausted.  Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all…  I’m tired, thirsty, and need a bit of encouragement.  I feel down for a while and am unsure if I can keep up.  And then it happens: people are cheering for me at the half way point and I feel like I can make it, maybe not in first, but definitely not last.  As my feet continue pounding the pavement, the pain sets in.  I’m going to regret this race and wish I didn’t start it but I know I’m committed to the end.  How could I give up when I’m this far into it?  I’ve enjoyed the beginning of the race and the encouragement in the middle, but now as I hear the people cheering for me at the finish line I’m only happy to hear them because it’s over.  With perseverance any race can be overcome…well, almost any race.


Watching The Slumber Party Massacre Collection is like running a marathon.  For four hours I ran these films and didn’t stop from beginning to end.  The beginning was great and the typical ‘80s slasher affair: lots of T&A and no wait for the gore.  Members of an athletic high-school girl’s basketball team are terrorized at their slumber party by a drilling maniac.  In this film the characters are likable, the boys are the bozos who get the most grueling deaths, and the women are the ones who fight back (go women!)  For the guys watching, the girls aren’t bad to look at.  For the girls…well, my wife just laughed her head off at them…  This first film is the good part of the race.


The sequel to the original story involves one of the sisters from the first film but none of the original cast members.  An early lead role for actress Crystal Bernard as Courtney Bates, this movie isn’t the slasher of the early ‘80s.  I would dare to call this a slasher film.  I think the acting and the cinematography is a step up from the first film but we lost the gore and nudity.  Both are virtually absent throughout the picture.  Using a rock and roll guitar playing “driller killer” as the worst nightmare (he comes from Courtney’s dreams), the viewer is questioning the intentions of the filmmakers.  This is the part of the run that makes me wonder “why?” and I needed some encouragement to get through it.  There’s no way this movie should be taken seriously and in the end I left confused but slightly amused.  I also found a nice place in my heart for Kimberly McArthur who I found to be an adorable actress and underrated for her performance.  Looking her up online, I was disappointed to find that she completely disappeared from the spotlight.  What a shame.


I almost gave up with the last film.  It was horrible to go through and seemed like a straight to video release.  I was shocked to see that it actually had a limited theatrical run.  Everything about it is wrong.  It did not feel like a slumber party like the first two movies.  You had to guess who the killer was.  There was a motive behind the killings.  There was a mask involved.  The writers and director for this film decided to throw out everything from the first two films and make their own horror movie using a drill.  They should have just left the original title as Stab in the Dark.  I couldn’t wait for this movie to end.  The finish line is up ahead…thank God it’s over.


Video Quality: 2/5


Expect nothing great here.  Despite new anamorphic widescreen transfers of the first two films, the image is still wanting in clarity, detail, and tamed colour.  The first film is accurately 1.78:1 and has many artifacts in the image like dirt and wear.  Using Rec.601 primaries for colour display, the colours are strong and grain is ever so present that DVD just can’t distinguish the details between it and real detail.  The second film is advertised as being 1.85:1 but actually appears a fraction smaller than 1.78:1 (I noticed about 5mm of black space at both sides on a zero overscan 58” panel).  Its image is the best of the three.  Real detail is improved over the first, colours aren’t as hot, and shadow detail is improved.  The third film doesn’t even come in its original theatrical ratio and we are depraved with an image that is desaturated, dim, and light levels that fluctuate in dark scenes.  It’s the worst of the three and looks like it was sourced from an S-VHS tape.


Audio Quality: 1.5/5


Harsh.  Hiss. Snap. Crackle. Pop. Noise.  Mono.  Strained.  Distorted.  What else…?  The first two films are full of treble.  The second film has a bit of bass.  The third film, recorded in Ultra Stereo is far from ultra and it may be the worst of the three again.  The dialogue is very quiet I had to crank up my preamp just to hear it.  The music gives a bit of a stereo spread but hardly much.  Bass is non-existent.  There’s nothing here.  With all three films, it can be difficult to hear what people say sometimes for a variety of reasons.  From a technical perspective, these are horrible soundtracks.

Special Features: 1.5/5

Each film includes audio commentaries, anamorphic theatrical trailers, and a photo and poster gallery.  An all-new three part documentary titled Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres is also included and runs for 44 seconds over an hour.  The directors of the films and cast are brought on to speak of these movies and it’s interesting to hear their take on it and their strategies for creating their characters.  The collection also comes with a 12-page booklet which a nice touch is considering that most discs from major studios come with nothing these days.

Recap
The Feature: 2/5
Video Quality:
2
/5
Audio Quality:
1
.5/5
Special Features:
1.5
/5

Those who remember these films (or at least the first two) from their early slasher days will enjoy watching these movies.  It’s nice to have all three films as a complete collection and may be fun to watch as a throwback to the ‘80s.  On the technical side these are a disaster and would require a little TLC on a future HD release which I would gladly purchase of the first two films.  Maybe I’d give the third film another try if the video and audio were done correctly.  As it stands, the third film is a disaster in this regard.  Maybe because it was at the end of the long run of films I disliked it so much.  I’ll promise myself that the next viewing (HD only) will be in 5km increments rather than the full marathon at once.



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#2 of 3 OFFLINE   SD_Brian

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Posted October 17 2010 - 12:34 PM


Special Features: 1.5/5

Each film includes audio commentaries, anamorphic theatrical trailers, and a photo and poster gallery.  An all-new three part documentary titled Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres is also included and runs for 44 seconds over an hour.  The directors of the films and cast are brought on to speak of these movies and it’s interesting to hear their take on it and their strategies for creating their characters.  The collection also comes with a 12-page booklet which a nice touch is considering that most discs from major studios come with nothing these days.


Great review but I'm curious to know why, with audio commentaries, galleries, trailers, the documentary and the insert booklet, you've only scored the special features as 1.5/5? Are they poorly done or do the movies just not warrant them?



#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted October 17 2010 - 12:47 PM

Hi there.  Thanks for the positive review comments.  No, the special features are not poorly done and I don't grade based on quantity either.  Actually, I'd rather not put a grade on special features at all.

It's the standard that seems to be on almost every disc these days: commentaries.  Documentary.  While I enjoyed watching the documentary, overall there was nothing that really stands out to me - someone who isn't much of a special features guy and who is new to these films.

Readers and/or fans of these films can conclude the value of the special features based on what's important to them.


Thanks for reading.

Mike


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