Danishka Esterhazy talks Slumber Party Massacre (2021)

The Slumber Party Massacre remake has been one of 2021’s unexpected slasher treats.

We caught up with director Danishka Esterhazy to talk about her version of the 80s slasher classic and her idea for a sequel.

Can you tell us how you got involved on Slumber Party Massacre?

In 2019, I was in Los Angeles for a meeting about another project when, by accident, I bumped into SyFy executive Josh Van Houdt. I had directed The Banana Splits Movie for Josh as well as two episodes of the kickass series Vagrant Queen – so Josh knew my love of horror and female-driven stories. He told me that he had approached screenwriter Suzanne Keilly about remaking Slumber Party Massacre. I expressed my excitement about his plans for SPM. A lot. By the following week, we were pitching the idea (and our team) to Shout Factory – the custodians of Roger Corman’s films and IP.

Tell us about the collaboration with Suzanne Keilly?

I knew Suzanne Keilly’s work. I loved her screenplays for Killer High (2018) and Leprechaun Returns (2018). Suzanne has a gift for creative kills and a wicked sense of humour. I’d been looking for an opportunity to work with her. So I was really excited to team up with her on SPM.

The original from Amy Holden Jones is regarded as a seminal part of the slasher film catalogue given it is written and directed by women, was this important for you going into the remake?

Absolutely. The original trilogy was groundbreaking. It’s a franchise that every horror fan knows. So I was thrilled to be able to become a part of that legacy.

There are plenty of homages to the original and the sequel plus other slashers, were there any of these moments improvised on-set?

Well, I made sure to share the original films with all the cast and crew. So everyone knew the references and was excited to sneak in Easter eggs for the fans. But I did plan those little nods. Which range from costume clones to set dressing and props to scenes that are shot-for-shot recreations. It was fun choosing all my favourite parts from the original films and sneaking them in.

What can you tell us about putting the cast together?

The cast is entirely from South Africa. We held auditions in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Some of the actors (Alex McGregor, Jennifer Steyn and Richard White) I had worked with before. But it’s a big ensemble cast so I had to find a lot of new actors as well. I started by casting Hannah Gonera as Dana and then built the remaining cast around her.

How important was it to screen the film at film festivals ahead of the release?

It was always a priority to me. I’d always imagined premiering at Fantastic Fest so it was very happy to be invited there. SPM is a film that is so much fun to watch with a big audience and I wanted to make sure that horror fans could have that experience. I’m so happy that the film has continued to travel to horror festivals around the world.

SyFy’s reputation for horror and genre products continues to grow, why are they the best home for Slumber Party Massacre?

SyFy has always supported diverse stories and female directors. They don’t get nearly enough credit for that. And they give their directors a lot of creative freedom. I had a very specific vision for this film and they let me run with it. They aren’t afraid of social commentary and they aren’t afraid of gore. So we are a great fit together!

What can you tell us about the shoot in South Africa?

I love shooting in Cape Town. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. The crews are excellent, the actors are fabulous and the landscape offers so many different kinds of shooting opportunities. SPM was my third shoot in South Africa and I would love to return to shoot more there.

Would you consider returning for a sequel?

Absolutely. Also, Suzanne would love write a musical version.

Slumber Party Massacre will be release on 13th December 2021 from Lightbulb Distribution.


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