Killer Party (1986) Review

Phoebe (Elaine Wilkes), Vivia (Sherry Willis-Burch), and Jennifer (Joanna Johnson) are pledges trying to get into the best sorority on campus. Unfortunately for the three friends, they have to attend an April Fool’s Day party in the old, abandoned Delta Sigma house. The house has been closed for twenty years, ever since a student was killed during a hazing ritual. Not everyone is happy to see new life in the old house. Soon after the party starts, a slasher in an old diving suit crashes the bash.

Killer Party is one schizophrenic slasher. It features two false starts before the real story starts. After the cheesy rock video intro, Killer Party plays like a teen comedy for half an hour. There are some funny segments, but no real suspense or frights. The slasher only appears for about ten minutes before the film turns into a funky Exorcist clone, which is appropriate because most of the audience will be saying “What the hell?”

Director William Fruet has made entertaining slashers in the past, so one wonders what happened with this film. Maybe the disjointed nature of the film is the fault of scripter Barney Cohen, also a veteran (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter). If the film is just a big joke, then why does it take a serious down beat tone in the last ten minutes? Making matters worse for slasher fans, all of the gore murders are edited.

The actors are the strongest element in the film. The late Paul Bartel is charming and funny but the film loses momentum after he exits. The three lead actresses are beautiful and sincere, one believes they could really be friends. Anime fans take note. Terri Hawks, the voice of Sailor Moon, has a small role as one of the sorority sisters.

It’s hard to tell where Killer Party went wrong. It had an experienced director, scripter, and cast. It almost seems like the crew started filming a comedy then switched at the last minute to a slasher film. The biggest problem is the killer’s identity. There is no way that person could have killed all of the victims because they are either with friends or being watched during some of the deaths. Maybe one day Killer Party will be released on DVD with a commentary track. Then maybe the viewers will finally learn what went wrong with a film that had such potential.

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