It’s Halloween day in 1989 and college student Jackie Blue wants to enjoy a quiet birthday in the midst of a chaotic semester at school. Her friend Amber has other ideas and persuades Jackie to come to the annual Monster Mash party on campus after her shift at the local movie theater. As murder plays out on the silver screen during the theater’s Halloween night Horrorthon, Jackie falls under a strange spell, all while a mysterious stranger watches over her every move. As the night unfolds, Jackie slowly unravels and everyone around her is turning up dead. Jackie finds herself helplessly trapped like prey in a spider’s web, and all she can do is try to survive the night!
Sounds like a pleasant, friendly sort of word, doesn’t it? Like an affectionate pet name Gomez might call Morticia.
Set on Halloween night in 1989, our story is focused on Jackie Blue (Mariah Brown) as she struggles through her college exams amid all the craziness of the season going on in her dorm. Her roommate Carrie (Anjali Alm-Basu) is a Halloween fanatic, and is insistant that Jackie come out with her to the campus Halloween party known as The Monster Mash.
You see, October 31 is also Jackie’s birthday, and in this case, her 21st birthday. So it is the obligation of your friends on that occaision to take you out and get you wasted. Jackie’s friend Amber (Samantha Mills) is also pushing to take Jackie out and have her enjoy herself.
However, Jackie has a lot of problems on her plate. Her parents have recently seperated, and her scholarship is in jeopardy if her grades fall, and like most college students she also has a job. On this night, she is working at the local movie theater for their Halloween movie marathon. She does agree to meet up with her friends at the Monster Mash after she gets out of work.
Jackie is also having nightmares. Visions of a strange Shamanic character with an animal skull on his head, and of a sigil that keeps appearing both in her dreams and in the real world. Jackie doesn’t know what any of it means, but she’s definately a bit freaked out by it.
And let’s not forget the bizarre Professor Lynch (Frank J. Aard) to whom Jackie has to turn in her research paper. He likes to stand a little too close, and talk a little too crypticly, and when he wishes her a happy birthday it’s pretty damn creepy.
As Jackie gets into her car, she finds an anonymous birthday gift on the seat – a gorgeous silver and amber ring, which she puts immediately on her finger and heads to work. Like you do, right? She didn’t even notice the tarantula on the back seat.
Yes, an actual tarantula.
As they night wears on at the movie theater, Jackie has a few light moments with her boss, Shirley (Rachel Jeffreys), but starts to feel sick. Especially when she sees the tarantula. Actually, Tarantulas, plural. And when she starts vomiting them in the bathroom, Jackie realizes pretty quickly this isn’t going to be a good night.
Yes, I did say she was vomiting spiders. What the hell, you ask? You’ll have to see the movie to find out.
There’s a lot of fun stuff going on in this film. First of all, the “movie within a movie” thing never gets old. Think about films like Matinee or Popcorn, where the film the characters are watching and the film the viewer is watching combine. In this case, the filmmaker has given us “Sleepover Slaughterhouse Part 3” which is probably the best parody of the 80s slasher genre I’ve ever seen.
I also don’t think some of the character names are an accident, either. Weird Professor Lynch, maybe named for the equally weird David Lynch? Her roommate Carrie, maybe named for the eponymous Stephen King character? Even the Monster Mash party, which could be a nod to legendary songwriter Gary Paxton, whose entire Halloween catalogue was made available for this film. Including, of course, the Bobby “Boris” Pickett classic “Monster Mash”.
And the more grunge inclined of you may recognize the title of the movie as being the same title of a song from the early recordings of The Smashing Pumpkins. This is also not an accident. The song “Honeyspider” is stated as the inspiration for the film, and with permission from SP’s Billy Corgan the song is used in the film’s score. There is also a scene very early on with a couple of college kids “smashing pumpkins” outside a dorm. Definately no accident there.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Rocky Horror references as well, seeing as the film’s credits give special thanks to a local RHPS cast, The Rocky Horror Denton Affair.
Most of this cast have little to no experience in film. Director Josh Hasty (who wears a LOT of hats on this production) has a few short films to his credit, and I believe this is his first feature. Writer Kenny Caperton has worked with Mr. Hasty in the past, and they obviously have a good working partnership if this film is any indication.
There are a few big names in the horror genre in the film. Frank Aard, of course, whom you would know from April Fool’s Day(2008). Joan Schuermeyer, who plays the crone Vevila, you might recognize from Zombieland.
I do have some criticisms for this film. The sound in the opening scene is epically awful, but considering they were filming a big, echo-y hallway, I can let it slide. The story rambles a bit, and perhaps a good amount of stuff could have been edited down to speed things along. My real issue is that when I found out this was a period piece (set in 1989, filmed in 2014), I really didn’t see late 80s in either the costuming or the make up/hair design.
All that being said, I think the film was pretty fun overall. All the deep geek references you can eat, a bit of “fan service” for those who dig that sort of thing, and while the gore was minimal, it was pretty good.
I should point out that the film had two seperate make up artists – one for the film itself, and one for the “Sleepover Slaughterhouse” segment. This segment featured effects that were an obvious homage to the way splatter was done back in the day. Must give a shout to Elizabeth Mize who created the effects for Sleepover Slaughterhouse. Fun, fun stuff.
So on a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 7 gooey spiders.