Killer Party (1986)

William Fruet made his directorial debut with Wedding in White, which was based on a play that he had written. The film won Best Picture at the Canadian Film Awards in 1973 and starred Carol Kane and Donald Pleasence. He followed that up with an intriguing string of Canuxploitation films, obviously taking full advantage of those wonderful tax shelter laws that produced so many statistic favorites.

There’s proto-slasher Death Weekend (released in the U.S. as The House By the Lake), Cries In the Night (known better here as Funeral Home), redneck rampage film Trapped (AKA Baker County U.S.A.), SpasmsBedroom Eyes and the kinda-sorta Alien by way of animal experimentation oddity Blue Monkey, as well as episodes of Goosebumps, Friday’s Curse (perhaps better known as Friday the 13th: The Series) and Poltergeist: The Legacy.

That brings us to Killer Party, a movie once named April Fool before the similarly named April Fool’s Day went into production.

College students Vivia (Sherry Willis-Burch, who is also in Final Exam), Jennifer (Joanna Johnson, who was on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful off and on from 1987 to 2014) and Phoebe (Elaine Wilkes, Sixteen CandlesMy Chauffeur) are sorority pledges at Briggs College who are in the middle of Hell Week.

They’re warned by their housemother Mrs. Henshaw to avoid the Pratt House, then travels there herself to the grave of a man named Allan, who she asks to leave the kids alone before she’s murdered.

On the day of the initiation — this is a similar slasher trope, just witness Sorority Girls In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, One Dark Night and The Initiation just to name a few — the girls prepare to break in and steal some clothes. We also meet Blake (Martin Hewitt, the doomed obsessive lover of Brooke Shields in Endless Love) and Martin (Ralph Seymour, Surf IIJust Before Dawn), who with interested in Jennifer.

During the hazing, the girls are forced to hold raw eggs in their mouths. Soon, all hell breaks loose and the lights begin to flicker and glasses rise off the table. Vivia goes to see where the noises are coming from, which leads to the group finding her get beheaded in a guillotine. Somehow, this was all a ruse and part of a prank that she decided to play. This part kind of confuses me, as I have no idea how a pledge — or why, to be honest — could set up such an elaborate trick.

That said, that prank becomes the reason why Vivia makes it into the sorority. She’s asked to recreate it at the April Fool’s Day masquerade that they’re throwing at — DUH DUH DUH — the Pratt House. That’s when we learn — via Professor Zito’s (Paul Bartel!) exposition — that Allan died in such a hazing ritual involving a guillotine 22 years ago. That said, Allan may have been way into the occult and conjured an evil force that was behind his death.

Bartel is the best part of this movie. I’ve said that sentence so many times, but it’s incredibly true here. Sadly, he doesn’t last much longer as when he decides to inspect the house, someone in the basement electrifies him. Also, his Zito character is named after Joseph Zito, who directed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and The Prowler. That’s because the former of those films was written by this film’s writer, Barney Cohen.

During the prank at the part, Jennifer is possessed by a spirit and stops the trick. As the party falls apart, the killing picks up, with Veronica being killed with a hammer, Pam stabbed with a trident, Martin’s head ends up in the fridge while Albert also loses his noggin and then Blake is drowned in a bathtub. Vivia and Phoebe run from all this carnage right into Jennifer, who discloses that she’s possessed by the ghost of Allan.

They try and escape through a window, but Vivia is thrown to the unforgiving earth, breaking both her legs. Phoebe ends up killing her possessed friend by impaling her with a board, but she’s overtaken by Allan, just as the police put both women into an ambulance. The movie closes on Vivia screaming that she can’t be left alone with Phoebe.

The reason for the quick burst of murder in this film is because it had to be re-edited following numerous MPAA cuts. That’s why the film seems to have no gore and is edited so that the murders have little room in between. In the original cut, there was more time between each kill, as well as plenty more gore, like Pam getting completely impaled by the trident.

If you’re watching this and wondering, “Have I seen Briggs College before?” you have. It’s the same school as 1998’s Urban Legend.

Killer Party was a late comer to the slasher era, but it’s a quick moving burst of fun. It’s not perfect, but how many of these movies are?

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