When The Slumber Party Massacre came out in 1982, most critics ignored or dismissed it as a by-the-numbers version of an all-too-familiar slasher plot, where a group of partying teenagers get killed in increasingly disgusting ways. But in a way, the straightforwardness of The Slumber Party Massacre makes it even more subversive. The movie doesn’t telegraph its points through exaggeration; instead, it’s unpretentiously effective just as a gory horror exercise, with all the giggly, half-naked high school makeout sessions and shock-impalings that fans had come to expect since Halloween and Friday The 13th. The big difference is that Brown and Jones make their female victims into actual characters, who enjoy each other’s company and spend more time than usual conversing between murders.

Granted, most of the sisterhood happens while the ladies are wearing skimpy nightgowns. But Jones also works some gender-specific criticism into her imagery, from an insert shot of a discarded Barbie to the way the killer’s long, menacing drill often dangles between his legs. The bonding between the would-be victims matters, because what tends to doom them in this story is when they peel off from their girlfriends to go spend time with a fella. The Slumber Party Massacre emphasizes strength in numbers, especially given that these women aren’t being stalked by a superhuman masked monster, but some ordinary nobody with a power tool. Like the patriarchy, he’s brutal, but beatable.

Availability: The Slumber Party Massacre is available on DVD and Blu-ray.