Adrienne Fischer - Sara
Darcy Wood - Dee
Danielle Nortum - Cassie
Oliver Lucach - Travis
Angel Marquez - Creature/Chuck
Karen Nelson - Sara's Mom
Tom Savini - Uncle Tom
Genre - Horror/Independent
Running Time - 77 Minutes
Score - 4 Howls Outta 4
I've never really had a birthday party. It's not really my thing. Not to say that I wouldn't want one for big occasions [like when I turn 30 in a couple of years] but I really don't see the big deal about birthdays. It's just a year closer to my death, so why would I want to celebrate that? What would be worse is if people came together behind my back and threw me a surprise party. Knowing my luck, my friends and family will probably hire a clown to piss me off as entertainment. If they really wanted to show me how much they care, they'd do what Sara's friends did for her in the independent flick, IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL DIE IF I WANT TO: throw a surprise party in a haunted house while placing Halloween gags all over the place. Dancing with demonic forces, pissed off spirits, and blood-soaked victims for my birthday would be awesome! I'm probably in the minority though, since it doesn't look quite as fun in this excellent independent feature.
Sara (Adrienne Fischer) is upset when her friends seem to forget her birthday, which also happens to land on Halloween. What Sara doesn't know is that her friends are planning together this really elaborate and frightening surprise party for her. Prankster Travis (Oliver Lucach) is planning the party at the supposedly haunted Burkitt Manor. Apparently in the 1930s, Mr. Burkitt (Christopher Patrick) murdered his entire family by mutilating them for whatever reason. Anyway, the presence of people entering this house has apparently resurrected Burkitt's evil, conjuring up the spirits of those who had died many years ago. Eventually, Sara and her friends are trapped inside the house by Burkitt's evil, leaving them vulnerable for attack. Can Sara and her friends survive to see another birthday?
I've gotten many screeners for independent films from Fatally-Yours, and none of them have been as fun, well-produced, or as good as IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL DIE IF I WANT TO. I'll be honest - I wasn't expecting much out of this one, especially with a cheesy title like that. But I'm glad I finally watched it because the film is pretty sweet and kept my interest the entire time. For a film done on a budget of $15,000, it's very impressive when it comes to the make-up and special effects [which were NOT done by Tom Savini, although Savini does have a cameo in the film]. This film is GORY as hell, with blood splattering here and there without a care, and body parts going in directions that we usually dread them going. From heads getting smashed, to throats getting ripped apart, to a beating heart popping out of a girl's naked torso, from a girl pretty much combusting until blood sprays forth, nothing is spared. And the make-up on the creature [who's a possessed version of one of the victims in the film] and the victims were really well-done. That creature was really creepy looking and the victims did look like corpses after they got demolished. I was amazed at how well the budget was used on the technical stuff. I wish more horror films, independent and mainstream, would use their cash on the right things.
I also thought the screenplay was excellent. It's basically a NIGHT OF THE DEMONS ripoff, but it's fun nonetheless. Tony Wash uses a more comic book style method of telling the story and moving things along, which I thought was very cool and actually kept the pace at a great rate. It was like reading those old EC comics of Tales From The Crypt, but it being brought to life. I also appreciated the time Wash took to give us time to know the characters, good and evil, somewhat before things really got kicking. The characters don't come across as stereotypes at all. In fact, it's like watching real people having fun until the shit hits the fan. Thank God a horror film finally acknowledged that characters are what makes people want to keep watching these films, not the gore and blood. A film can't be scary if we don't invest our time into characters we're afraid for. And IT'S MY PARTY does just that.
I also enjoyed the homages to other horror films. I already mentioned NIGHT OF THE DEMONS and CREEPSHOW with the comic style. There's also a character named Ben Tramer [who was mentioned in HALLOWEEN and was killed in HALLOWEEN II]. Sara's favorite horror character is Jason Voorhees, although her mother prefers Freddy Krueger. Sara has posters of THE SHINING and other horror films in her room. She even has a karate montage that's similiar to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER. Wash even thanks John Carpenter during the end credits. Nice to see a film not rip off a previous film, but actually do it in a way that it shows how much horror films in the past had inspired it.
Speaking of Tony Wash, he's a very good director. I mean, he kept the film's pace really well, never missing a beat throughout its short 77 minute time. There's tension. There's suspense. There's a ton of atmosphere. The editing and transitional work is great. There are moments that may creep you out. The lighting is done well. The music is perfect. It's better than most direction in mainstream horror films. This guy is going places and I hope to see Wash do more work in the genre. I really enjoyed the visuals in the film.
The acting is also very good. Adrienne Fischer was fantastic as Sara. She acted like a real, normal girl. She was intelligent. She was innocent. She was a little bit of a bad girl by dressing up like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I really liked her alot here and she carried the film very, very well. Plus she has a nude shower scene as well. Darcy Wood and Danielle Nortum were also good as Sara's main girl friends. They screamed very well and knew how to cry on cue, especially Wood. I enjoyed her final sequence, which was probably the most built up tension-wise. Oliver Lucach was cool as Travis, who liked playing pranks on the girls. He would be someone I hang out with on a daily basis just to mess with other people and get a kick out of it. Angel Marquez as the Creature who stalks the Burkitt Manor was excellent. He knew how to use his body to convey what the Creature was feeling and his movements were really creepy. Great job. And Tom Savini was cool in his short cameo. Always a pleasure to see him on screen.
The highlight of the film is the "Choose Your Adventure" feature. We've seen it on a couple of DVDs, such as the ones for FINAL DESTINATION 3 and RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. But I believe IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL DIE IF I WANT TO did it the best so far. The feature is still quite limited, but it's nice to go STRAIGHT into the choosing parts rather than sit through the entire film and pick different opinions over and over again to see how the film will end differently. Some of the endings were a bit weak, while others were okay. The original feature ending was definitely the best one and I find it fitting due to its irony. But it's nice to see an independent feature be very future-forward in attempting to change the way we watch movies in our homes. Hopefully, this feature will continue to be improved upon.
THE FINAL HOWL
One of the better modern horror films I've seen in a very long time, IT'S MY PARTY AND I'll DIE IF I WANT TO definitely gets my highest recommendation. It's smart, it's fun, and attempts to scare you for all the right reasons - you really can't go wrong watching this in the dark alone or with friends who appreciate this type of horror. Hopefully this film gets a major distribution deal soon so everyone can check this film out. It may be deadly, but this is still one PARTY I wouldn't mind going to again and again.