I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into when I rented this. I added it to my queue based on a Netflix recommendation; which they're actually pretty good at, I've discovered a few worthwhile films that I'd never before heard of. Murder Party was a complete unknown, but after some quick research I saw that it had won the Audience Award at the Slamdance Festival, that and the cover was enough for me.
Alex is a mild-mannered meter-maid, a normal enough guy, a little lonely maybe. He's walking home early on Halloween night, when he comes across a party invitation laying on the sidewalk. "Come to a Murder Party" it offers. He has to make the decision whether to spend a quiet night watching horror movies with his cat Sir Lancelot or making the trek out to an unknown party. He chooses the later, but first he has to create a costume. He builds a fairly elaborate knight costume out of some cardboard and duct tape, a few subway rides and a long walk through the warehouse district and he's there.
He walks into a very dead scene, a few people milling about to some low key music playing from an old boom-box, and only one girl in sight. For Alex it quickly turns from a very lame party, to a horrifying situation. The party-goers grabs him and tie him to a chair, and begin discussing what manner is the best to dispatch him. They start by pouring acid on him, which turns out to be a jug of vinegar; obviously not pros. They blame him for being dumb enough to coming to a Murder Party, and have designs to kill him in an artistic fashion. It seems that an important art supporter is offering up a large grant for the person who can come up with the most unique murder.
What follows may seem a little boring for someone expecting a hardcore horror film, but the last twenty minutes more than make up for it in the gore category. While Alex remains tied to a chair, the artists sit down and talk for a while. There is some funny discussions of the New York art scene, which may be a little too inside for those who don't have background in art, but I found it pretty hilarious. All the characters are fairly well developed, we learn about why they're there, who they are. All the amateur actors put forward at least entertaining performances, each character is memorable in their own ways; and their unique Halloween costumes make them easy to distinguish. Soon people are dying in horrendous ways, none of them being Alex. There is a particularly great scene where a guy dressed up as a werewolf catches on fire, and his mask melts to his face, creating a horrific image.
For a film that I knew nothing about, and started off kind of slowly, I was blown away. If you have a sick sense of humor, this is an extremely funny film. It's a perfect set-up for a low budget horror film; a handful of actors and a warehouse location, letting the filmmakers focus on the characters and the wild scenario; it is a really well done film all the way around, with good acting, photography, editing, and make-up effects. The last twenty minutes is a perfect cacophony of murderous mayhem, including the use of an electric chainsaw and a guy dressed up like a member of the Baseball Fury gang from the cult classic The Warriors. Very inspired stuff. - Grade: B+