Coed Gina Smika cowers on the floor, framed by the outstretched legs of wacko driller-killer Michael Villella, corkscrewing three-footer throbbing down from his crotch; at the climax, circumcision is in order via Robin Stille's avenging machete. Virtually made for order for Carol Clover's Men, Women, and Chainsaws, this drab dead-kids-in-the-house proves that a female crew (directed by Amy Jones, written by Rita Mae Brown) scarcely amounts to sneaky feminist manifesto. Still, the slasher genre has always been tailored for the male gaze, and Jones' camera understands the rules of the game -- barely one minute in, Michelle Michaels wakes up and whips out her titties. Later still, the invitation for the eponymous bash arrives during a post-basketball match shower, a soapy rump more of an object of contemplation than the ketchup-gore at the tip of the villain's power drill. Their panty-flaunting sisterhood is invaded by gawkers and head-rolling slaughter, though not before the genre's tropes have been turned parodic by a shrewdness even winkier than Kevin Williamson's in Scream -- the point of reference playing on the TV set is not Halloween but the gal-in-peril pastiche in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. With Jennifer Meyers, Pamela Roylance, Debra Deliso, and Andree Honore.
--- Fernando F. Croce