#3 in the DVD blog's "7 Days of Halloween" series.
" 'Murder Party' is 'The Breakfast Club' with chainsaws and hard drugs," says director Jeremy Saulnier. He could throw in "After Hours" as well, another tale of confusion and weirdness in the New York night.
The indie horror pic comes from the filmmaking collective the Lab of Madness, a bunch of childhood friends who grew up making odd little camcorder movies. The shorts "usually involved some sort of blood spray," one member recalls. Their greatest VHS-tape hit was "Asskickers," or maybe "MacBeth."
Their film festival success with the 2004 short "Crabwalk" didn't translate to mainstream backing. That didn't stop the mad lads.
"Fuck you, Hollywood, we're going to make our own films," was the motto.
"Murder Party," written and directed by Saulnier, is an act of lunacy, one of those low-budget films like "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" in which the audience feels held hostage -- and any kind of perverse plot twist seems possible. It's a funny, mean and gory movie in which pretty much everyone dies badly.
Our hero Chris (Chris Sharp) is a parking-ticket officer who goes home each night to his unimpressed cat and TV. One Halloween, the nerd finds on the sidewalk an invitation to a "murder party." Uncharacteristically, he shows up, in a knight's costume made out of spare cardboard. He's even baked pumpkin bread.
Chris' hosts turn out to be group of low-rent, bad-karma artists hanging out in a junky warehouse. Anyone stupid enough to show up for a murder party deserves to die, they figure. They're also in Halloween costumes, dressed to kill.
The deadbeats tie Chris to a chair while debating ways to kill him as a work of performance art. Drugs and weapons come into play. A patronizing art patron joins the party, bearing truth serum and crank. Truth or dare ... or homicide.
Viewers won't confuse "Murder Party" with a studio film, but for a cheap-o production it looks pretty good. The acting is appropriately over the top. A digital effects artist and a makeup man sell the plentiful gore.
The Magnolia Home Entertainment DVD includes a commentary from Saulnier and pals. Non-obsessives should skip it and viddie the making-of docu about the collective's curious history -- and what it took to get this piece of indie insanity into theaters and homes.