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No-budget horror is not supposed to look and be this good, but The Lab of Madness horror team can make a cake out of nothing.

Murder Party

A delusional art collective lures an unsuspecting man to a murder party in hopes of landing a grant. Let’s dig into 2007’s MURDER PARTY, directed by Jeremy Saulnier!

As I See It

Jeremy Saulnier has put out high-quality, low-budget films. I haven’t caught Netflix’s Hold the Dark yet, but I do love some Jeffrey Wright (“…Egyptian cotton, motherfucker!”). Blue Ruin made me a full-fledged Macon Blair (The Hunt) believer. Green Room stabbed me in the gut. Murder Party is the friend you knew would make something of themselves.

It’s not the most original idea, and it doesn’t have to be.

Forget about the “no budget” tag. Murder Party is a well-done film, regardless of the budget. Those practical blood splashes and wounds are top-notch, but once we get into the burn zone (off camera) and Macon Blair’s wolf mask is fused to his face, the production enters a level of expertise that is rare on any level of production.

I love how they spit in the face of stupid characters and tropes and then amp up the absurdity of every situation themselves. They’re not above or below it.

Chris Sharp’s character, with a dearth of dialogue, is still endearing. He’s just so nice you don’t want to see him get hurt. He’s got a bit of a Weird Al thing going for him, which is high praise.

Behind the story is a harangue of pretentious art school students who feel they need to push themselves past the edge just to be noticed. All of that is wrapped up when Bill, dressed as a fury from the cult ’70s hit The Warriors, unleashes fury on a bunch of stuck-up artists.

It’s Saulnier lashing out at the scene through his character. I can dig it.

P.S. One small scene that made me chuckle as it transported me back to a simpler time was Chris printing out the directions to the party from MapQuest or something like that. It reminded me of a road trip with a couple of good friends in 2003. We drove to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the home base of Rolling Rock beer, though we were too young to indulge. The Rolling Rock town festival was hosting a pretty big concert featuring Incubus, Deftones, Stone Temple Pilots, and Live. We had the MapQuest directions printed out. After almost seven hours of driving, we pulled up a hill, hoping to see our hotel. What we found was ourselves in the middle of a cemetery overlooking Evan’s City. It was dark, and we had no idea at the time, but we had been on the end of a beautiful internet troll who had lured us into the very burial ground where Romero shot Night of the Living Dead.

Famous Faces

Macon Blair (Macon) has real chops. He’s been in two other Saulnier films: Blue Ruin and the hard-to-swallow but expertly executed punk drama/horror/Nazi shit show Green Room. He’s also written and directed his own films, including this year’s The Toxic Avenger from Troma. Oh yeah, he was also featured in a little film called Oppenheimer.

Of Gratuitous Nature

The diatribe on “the N-word” had nothing poignant. If you want to use dialogue in a film to get a controversial point across, you at least need to have something with traction to talk about.

Heartthrob

The brilliant Macon Blair’s burned wolf makeup is one of the most exquisite, practical, low/no-budget makeup jobs I’ve ever seen.

Ripe for a Remake

I can see the allure of remaking Murder Party with some budget and a hyper-sardonic stab at the current state of the art. My opinion is that it has the charm it does solely because everyone had to make it work with nothing. Let it lie.

Spawns

No progeny to report.

Where to Watch

There is no high-definition physical release, as far as I know. There is a DVD that I was fortunate enough to take a blind chance on back in the days when Best Buy had offbeat horror films on DVD from a multitude of distributors. You can, however, stream Murder Party just about everywhere: Amazon Prime, Fubo, Vudu, Tubi, Redbox, Pluto TV, and Plex.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4


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