Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Killer Party (1986)

Coming relatively late in the day, certainly when you think of the "golden period" of slasher movies, Killer Party is a film that doesn't get mentioned much, in my experience, and doesn't seem to get any love. That's a shame, because it's a hugely entertaining horror film that takes a sharp turn in the final act to make it stand out from the slasher crowd. Those who have already seen it may be smiling already, those who haven't seen it should give it a go.

The basic story concerns three young women who pledge to a sorority. There are pranks and humiliations, of course, but they manage to get in. The women are then told to turn a house into a suitable location for a Halloween party. They do, and on the night of the party they also have a surprise guest, in the form of a tormented and murderous spirit.

While it may not deliver the highest bodycount in the subgenre, and while you don't really get the required death every 10 minutes, Killer Party makes up for that with a tone that very effectively blends the scares with some comedy. From the double fake start, including a music video sequences that plays out like a rock riff on Thriller, to a prank involving bees and females in a hot tub, this is a film that aims to provide fun, first and foremost. If it didn't get that tone just right then the finale would be ridiculous, quite frankly, but it instead just feels a bit offbeat and goofy.

Sherry Willis-Burch, Joanna Johnson, and Elaine Wilkes are the three main characters, all do decent enough in their roles, and Martin Hewitt and Ralph Seymour do okay as the two main males onscreen. There are plenty of others joining in with the fun but these five tend to be the ones that viewers are asked to keep an eye on as the party unfolds.

Director William Fruet (no stranger to the genre, he also gave us the enjoyable Funeral Home, which was, well, quite a bit worse than this) seems to enjoy playing with the audience expectations here, especially throughout the first half of the film, and writer Barney Cohen gives him good material to work with. It's easy to like our leading ladies and the film moves along nicely until things start to get crazy in the third act.

If you like your slasher movies to have the usual selection of tropes - a prank that backfires to create a motivation for revenge, plenty of kills with weapons that are usefully near to hand, locals warning youngsters of the peril, etc - then this may not be the film for you. But if you like the idea of a film in which a possessed woman, at one point, attacks others with a trident then this is definitely one you should watch.


There's a DVD available here.
Americans can get it here.

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