In the 1980s, Canada exported a few standout slasher movies that achieved some cult status and notoriety. Both Prom Night and My Bloody Valentine are considered B-movie slasher gems. Next in line were decent efforts like Curtains and Happy Birthday to Me. And Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 straddles the fence between obscure title and beloved cult classic. But if you’re looking for a real obscure Canadian addition to the slasher pantheon, look no further than Killer Party. As compared to the movie titles rhymed off above, Killer Party was not a regular on VHS store shelves. It stars no one you’re likely to know or recognize. Even its premise sounds like a run-of-the-mill 80s slasher movie.
Welcome to Briggs College where Vivia, Jennifer, and Phoebe are hoping to pledge the campus sorority during Hell Week. Against the advise of their housemother, the sorority holds the initiation rituals in the abandoned Pratt House. Rumors have swirled for years about a fatal hazing accident. And outside in its overgrown backyard lies a single tombstone with the name, Allan. Ignoring the warnings, the girls mix their initiation with some pranks that inadvertently conjures evil. Soon a raging sorority house party gives way to an unspeakable nightmare.
Killer Party Can’t Quite Mix Its Different Styles Into a Decent Horror Effort
Let’s start with what Killer Party is not. Don’t go into this one expecting a hidden gem you’ve somehow missed. Despite all the genres packed into this Canadian horror movie, its 90-minute runtime feels a bit overconfident. Director William Fruet and writer Barney Cohen (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) mix bits of teen comedy sex romp with parts of a slasher movie and demonic possession tropes thrown in for good measure. By and large, the mix never gels with Killer Party feeling like at least three different movies stitched together. Aside from making the viewing experience feel disjointed, it also hurts the pacing. Though the fraternity hijinks and pranks are low-grade amusing, it feels like you’re waiting a long time for you came to see.
By and large, the mix never gels with Killer Party feeling like at least three different movies stitched together.
And when Killer Party finally leans more into the horror, it’s definitely hit and miss. Fruet does a few things surprisingly well (see more below). Yet Killer Party isn’t likely to satisfy most fans of 80s slashers. First and foremost, the Canadian horror outing lacks much in the way of blood or creative kills. Too much happens off screen and the editing hides the action even when Fruet seems willing to put it front row and center. Moreover, Fruet doesn’t really generate much in the way of jumps and scares through the thriller’s middle act. Whether it’s due to technical shortcomings or the director’s intended emphasis on humor is a mystery.
Killer Party Becomes Inexplicably Watchable In Its Strange Third Act
In spite of its limitations, Killer Party does manage to be a rather watchable B-movie effort. For a mid-80s slasher movie, the main cast is actually pretty likable and all of the actors acquit themselves quite well. And if Fruet isn’t all that good at delivering scares, blood, and gore, he makes Killer Party look head and shoulders above most slashers that were getting released at that time. In fact, the production values alone give this thriller a boost over its generic, silly-looking promotional materials. Arguably, Killer Party’s biggest coup is its opening 5 to 10 minutes where it takes a crack at early meta horror. Fruet’s false opening comes several years before Wes Craven himself attempted post-modern horror with New Nightmare.
And yet it works because it helps this slasher comedy achieve a level of engaging weirdness.
However, Killer Party really saves itself with a third act that veers in a completely unexpected direction. Technically, the shift to a possession-revenge story makes little sense. Yes, Cohen’s screenplay establishes that a student died years earlier in a tragic fraternity initiation ritual. But Killer Party never really offers a plausible reason for its third act. And yet it works because it helps this slasher comedy achieve a level of engaging weirdness. Suddenly Killer Party goes from a dull but watchable horror retread to a midnight movie vibe. Like two other low-budgets 80s slashers – Intruder and The Dorm That Dripped Blood – Fruet ends things on a strangely dark note that give this slasher some staying power.
Killer Party Is No Classic, But 80s Horror Fans Should Still Accept the Invitation to Watch It
No one’s going to mistake Killer Party for a genre classic. Nevertheless it’s obscurity seems pretty unfair considering some of the movies that achieve cult status. Yes, it’s slow getting out of the gate. But the acting, production values and camera work, and wild mixing of subgenres elevate this one above most B-horror movies. And it’s out-of-leftfield downer ending has the kind of creepy atmosphere that should easily qualify it as a cult flick. Eighties horror fans who haven’t seen Killer Party will definitely want to check it out.