Halloween Scene: Murder Party (2007) & A Bucket Of Blood (1959)

I didn’t really know what I was getting when I put Murder Party to the top of my Netflix queue. I remembered hearing some buzz about it, but nothing specific. The title invokes a pretty clear idea, which turned out to be just a small part of the flick. The plot follows a doofus kind of guy happens upon an invitation to a murder party on Halloween. The invite literally blew up to him in the wind while he walked home from work. Wanting to add some excitement to his shitty life, he creates a pretty impressive knight costume out of cardboard and heads to to the party which seems to be held in some kind warehouse full of boxes and whatnot; it’s way more packed in places than say the one in Reservoir Dogs.

Anyway, the knight shows up and a small group of douchey artists are sitting there, knock him out and tie him to a chair. From there it’s more about him being captured and waiting for them to figure out the most artistic way for them to kill him and the artists waiting for and then talking to this guy Alexander who claims to have a lot of money that he will give them so they can make more art. Towards the end it gets into more slasher/chase horror, but the main genre I’d list this one under comedy because, unless I’m completely misreading the movie, it’s more an indictment of the pretentiousness of artists who don’t seem to have any grasp on reality. All that matters to them is their art. Not human life, not anything else. I’ve seen some reviews that seem to take these characters seriously, as if they’re supposed to be people you don’t hate, but I think that’s a complete misfire on their read of the movie.

I didn’t recognize any of the actors in the movie, but I thought they all did a great job of conveying their characters. I liked how the cardboard knight used his eyes to look around at all the ridiculous nonsense happening around him and how Alexander was such a douche that he made the photographer take off his much better old timey vampire costume because that’s what the far less imaginative Alexander was supposed to be dressed as.

My one complaint about the movie comes from the fact that it seemed like some shots were missing. Even though the gore was surprisingly good at times, you’d see someone pick up a weapon and then the bloody result of the impact but not the actual contact, though you can see the contact in the last scene. It’s like this: man picks up knife, see knifed arm spraying blood, but not the knife hitting the arm. I would think the hardest part is the blood spray not the impact, but what do I know? There were a lot of scenes like that towards the end, which was too bad because there was a lot going on.

The movie reminded me of two other stories I’ve read/seen: Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey and A Bucket of Blood. I just read and reviewed that Preacher comic in a recent trade post, so it was fresh in my mind, but the pretentious artists seemed related the douchey kids in the comic who want to be vampires. And the whole concept of the movie reminded me of A Bucket Of Blood, Roger Corman’s 1959 horror movie about the beatnik generation. More on that in a second.

I’ve seen Bucket Of Blood three times now since I snagged the MGM Roger Corman Collection in my Wizard days. It’s on the same disc as the atrociously bad Bloody Mama (I guess they were going for a blood theme) and I never once thought of it as a comedy, though it does have humorous moments. According to both IMDb and the poster to the right, it appears that Corman and everyone else involved thought the movie was a laugh riot. I, on the other hand, took it as a subtle look at one man’s accidental rise to a kind of fame and his struggle to keep the relative respect and power that came along with that fame.

The fantastic Dick Miller stars–apparently his is the only time he’s ever been the main character in a flick–as Walter, a seemingly simple bus boy at a beatnik coffee shop called The Yellow Door. Walter is fascinated by what some of the poets and artists who hang out at the place say and do, often quoting those things to himself. He wants to be a sculptor, but instead covers his accidentally murdered cat in clay and calls it “Dead Cat.” Walter takes the cat to the Door and they put it on display. Pretty early on the owner figures out what’s happening and gets slowly horrified as Walter brings in more and more statues. The “artist” does his first full-form man after another accidental murder, but then gets a taste for the love the people he used to wait on showed him and wouldn’t let anything get in his way.

The Yellow Door is filled with the kinds of characters you’d expect to be at a beatnik club like this: the poet that everyone seems to exalt, the old people trying to live dangerously by walking on the wild side, the undercover cops trying to catch heroine dealers, the burnouts, the pretty girl next door artist and the vapid model. I wonder if it’s an accurate representation of the scene or more of an outsider’s take on it.

Anyway, I really dig this movie, it’s my favorite of the Corman directed movies I’ve seen and the only I’ve watched more than once so far. I think Miller kills it in his role. He might annoy some people with his simplicity, but I think he keeps it even without being too stupid or too cunning. Once he gets the good life, he just can’t let it go, at least not on someone else’s terms. I highly recommend checking out this flick, especially because it only comes in at 66 minutes, though doesn’t seem rushed or wanting.

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