Friday Night Video Store Adventures: Killer Party

by Jenny

 

If you grew up in the VHS era, you likely have fond memories of hitting the video store on a Friday night, a world of cinematic possibilities awaiting you. If you are not “of a certain age”, then welcome to this nostalgia-soaked, slasher-filled trip to the wonder of the video store experience. Don’t worry-we won’t charge late fees!

For this first installment of the series, we are going to visit the world of the 1986 classic, Killer Party. And by “classic”, I mean wonderfully absurd and soooooo very 80s.

Directed by William Fruet (Friday the 13th: the Series), with a screenplay written by Barry Cohen (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), this is one of those movies that I chose basically solely on the cover art, which was a common tactic of movie selection back in the day.  This movie was shot in October of 1984, and released in 5 theaters, making an unconfirmed total of $900.

 

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The movie starts with not one but two false starts. In the first fake-out, we are at a funeral, mourning the death of Annabel Pitswolly Couslove. There are tears, except from daughter-in-law Stephanie, who is giving some classic soap opera side-eye. She stays behind when the service is over, and tells the deceased that she hopes she burns in hell. In response, Annabel drags Stephanie into the coffin, which is brought to the crematorium by a headphone-wearing mortuary worker who can’t hear the screams coming from the casket, or notice the tremendous shaking of said casket. As Stephanie begins to go up in flames, we realize that this scene is actually playing at a drive-in where we meet April and her boyfriend, Stosh. April’s magnificent crimped blonde and pink hair isn’t even the most 80s thing about this movie, believe it or not. She runs into the concession area to get popcorn, and is surprised to see that there is no attendant, and steals a giant tub of popcorn. When she goes out to the car, Stosh is gone, and the movie onscreen has devolved into pure screaming chaos. Soon, April’s life also devolves into chaos, as she’s attacked by zombies. Yes, zombies.

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But, in the second fake-out in the first ten minutes of the movie, it’s not a zombie movie-it’s a music video, for a song called You’re No Fool by the generously-bandanaed band White Sister. As April is dragged away by dancing zombies, we meet the first of our protagonists, Phoebe, played by Elaine Wilkes (Sixteen Candles), who was watching the music video (for you youngins, music videos were a thing once, on that channel with all the skanky reality shows on it.) Between us, Phoebe has always been my favorite character in this movie-as a teenager, I thought her style was so badass, from her curly mop to her red shoe/white shoe/white sock/red sock footwear. From there we meet the other two heroines-Jennifer played by Joanna Johnson, (The Bold and the Beautiful), and Vivia, played by Sherry Wilkes-Burch (Final Exam). The girls are pledging Sigma Alpha Pi, but Jennifer, who quickly reveals herself to be the doomsayer of this flick, is having doubts.

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She is, of course, completely right to have her doubts. They have the snotty sorority sisters to deal with, led by Veronica (Alicia Fleer), and the absolutely un-PC frat brothers from Beta Tau, who lead to the T&A scene that was required for an 80s slasher. The sexual harassment throughout this movie has not aged very well, and the majority of the male characters are pretty gross, but this ends up being the least of the girls’ problems.

After the boys attack the girls with bees in a successful effort to see their bits (not even joking), the house mother goes to a gravestone and tells “Allan” that the girls are going to be using the house, and that it was time for to let go. Then she goes to the house in question to hammer nails into the railings, you know, for safety. And here’s when shit gets real, as we see the first of many murders.

I won’t give the play-by-play on the rest of the story, because you really need to watch it, but let me just give the disclaimer that this movie suffers from a cornucopia of ideas, and a full-on assault by the MPAA, which resulted in a shortage of murder and gore onscreen. There are so many different tells of the murderer, from an apparently severe case of athlete’s foot, to an old school scuba suit/trident ensemble. Honestly, I’m still not 100% who the prolific murderer is, or why he doesn’t wash his feet, but let’s just say he’s prolific, knocking out the coeds quicker than mono.

This movie has everything-slashers, every 80s college trope, light nudity, possession, goat eyeballs, and even a handful of murderous pranks. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be confused, which was not atypical of the Friday night video store adventure. Definitely worth a watch, preferably with Jiffy Pop.

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Episode 205 – Looking Back At 2019: What A Great Year For Horror!

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Join us for a look back at 2019 as we share our individual top ten horror films of the year and chat about other wonderful horror gems.

Episode 205 – Looking Back At 2019: What A Great Year For Horror!

The Letterboxd List

First Cut Is The Deepest: Chris Duck (Co-host of The Podcast Macabre)

(This is the first installment of what we plan to make an ongoing blog series here, featuring horror fans of all walks of life sharing what sank its claws into them early in life and made them into lifelong devotees of the genre. Enjoy!)

Movies have been a passion for me for as far back as I can remember. And some of the ones I am the most passionate about are horror films. Nothing can quite replace the thrill and adrenaline rush you get from having the crap scared out of you while sitting in the relative safety of your living room, your local cinema, or even your car at the drive-in. The impression these movies have left on me are frequently fond ones and some of my oldest memories. (My wife says they just warped me, but that’s for another blog.)

My earliest and clearest cinematic memory is of the family piling into an old Plymouth station wagon in the summer of 1975 to head out to the drive-in near our home. Mind you, I was barely passed the age of two, but I do remember my siblings and me being told to just lay down in the back and get some sleep while Mom and Dad watched the grown-up movie. Rebel that I was even then, I peeked out from under the blanket and saw a woman running down a beach and dive into the ocean while some guy just sat on the beach watching her.

Yep. My first movie-going memory is from the opening scenes of Jaws.

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Time would pass, as it tends to do. Star Wars would consume my youth and become another lifelong obsession that I now share with my own daughter (who’s also quite the gorehound now). But during that time, I still loved a good scare. My dear aunt, Charlene, was a fan of the frights, too, and she would introduce me to many of the classic films from the 50’s, 60’s, and earlier. I always loved the story she told me of watching Psycho for the first time and screaming three times before the private eye hit the bottom of the stairs after Mrs. Bates stabs him.

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At the tender age of seven, there was a night that my mother and I shared together that is still one of my fondest childhood memories. We rented a video disc (not to be confused with a laser disc) from Webster’s Furniture to watch together. I even remember what I got to eat as a treat that night: Swanson’s Fried Chicken dinner with the mashed potatoes, corn, and the brownie dessert. The movie we watched? Well, let’s just say mom and I both screamed and jumped off the couch a little when Jason lunged from the water and tipped Kristy’s canoe.

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But then we both laughed at each other. That roller coaster of  building and releasing tension, when done right, was one of the hooks that horror films had sank into my psyche before I even realized it.

My first honest-to-goodness-horror-movie-in-a-cinema experience, though? I was a very blessed little eight-year-old. My mother, my aunt Charlene, my sister, and I all went. Mom and Charlene joked that we only needed three seats since my sister was probably going to be in someone’s lap the whole time.

— Now let me state here that my sister is 2 years older than me and enjoys a good horror movie, too. But she did tend to be a duck-and-cover kind of viewer for the scary bits and had the occasional bad dream from the movies back then. Myself? Even then I was discovering Fangoria magazine and was fascinated by the make-up effects. I even wanted to attend the Tom Savini School of Special Make-Up Effects when I got older. And to this day, I have no memory of a nightmare directly related to a horror movie I watched. Back to the story. —

I said I was blessed for how I lost my big screen horror movie cherry, right? For an 8 year-old boy that loved make-up effects, what better film was there in the fall of 1981 than the John Landis classic An American Werewolf In London?

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As a parent now, I briefly glance back now and say to myself with a grin , “Holy shit! My parents let me see this stuff when I was that old?!?!” That reaction is understandable but again, brief. Would I have let my daughter watch any of those at that same age? No way. But that is because she was a totally different kid than I was. At that age, I could barely get her to walk by the skeleton decorations in a Halloween aisle. Now, at the age of 17, she’s currently working on her own Ashley Williams cosplay for Crypticon Seattle in May. I do my best not to judge other parents on what age they let their own offspring watch different horror movies or other entertainment. They know their kids better than I ever will. And my mom knew what I could and couldn’t handle. Do I feel like these movies had a lasting effect on me? Hell yeah. But not a bad one. (Shush, dear.)

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Family Halloween photo 2017 — Hipster (me), Charlie from Trick ‘r Treat (Lisa, my wife), and zombie girl (our daughter, Rachel)