Although the main purpose of this blog as to link to my work for other websites, I’ll also be posting content that’s exclusive to this blog, such as this. I’d also like to note that this is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a movie. I’ve reviewed a lot of things, some for money, some for experience, but never have I written about a film until now. What I’m saying is that while I am very experienced in writing opinion pieces, I feel as though my knowledge of films is underwhelming in comparison to most subject I cover. Nonetheless, let’s have a look at Party Monster.
I first discovered Party Monster when I shared an image on Facebook. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it was a quote from the film, in retrospect probably taken out of context. I was swiftly informed by multiple people of the source, and found the full movie uploaded to YouTube. Shame on you, “Toonela Diskolopper”. Didn’t you pay attention to those previews at the cinemas when you were a child? You wouldn’t steal a car!
Turns out that Party Monster is based on the book Disco Bloodbath by James St.James (also a character in the movie), and is a true story. Michael Alig and Robert “Freeze” Riggs were imprisoned for the murder of Andre “Angel” Melendez, and that’s not even a spoiler as this information is revealed to you in the very first scene. The two biggest stars of this film are Macaulay Caulkin as Michael Alig and Seth Green as James St. James. Pretty much every character in this movie is gay, bi, or sexually ambiguous. The acting is very over the top and the characters all behave very effeminately, in a way that almost seems mocking of homosexuals. A little research into the “Club Kid” culture depicted within dispels any concerns of homophobia; they really are effeminate drama queens. I have to say that Macaulay’s acting was a bit disappointing and felt very forced (but boy did those cocaine snorts look natural!), however Seth Green plays one convincing gay man. This film also features Marilyn Manson as a drugged up cross-dresser, and if that doesn’t sound like the best idea since Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza, then get out of my face. Wilmer Valderrama of That 70’s Show fame also makes an appearance as a DJ named Keoki. I am completely incapable of seeing Valderrama as any other character than Fez, so I spent the entire movie, both times I’ve watched it so far, referring to him as “gay club Fez”.
In the very first scene, Michael admits to James that Angel is dead. James is quick to dismiss this, citing Michael’s appetite for attention. This divulges into a series of fourth wall breaks leading to a recap of the story from the beginning. Michael moved to New York from Indiana, bored of the small town he grew up in. If there’s anything in this movie I can relate to, it’s not fitting in and bemoaning your origins.Michael soon meets James at a club, and requests his help, more specifically to teach him “how to be fabulous”. He soon visits a rather dead club called The Limelight, which no one attends and arranges a meeting with the owner by flooding the basement. He promises to not only pay for the damages with earnings from promoting parties at The Limelight, but to also turn the club into something worthwhile. It’s through these parties that the Club Kid movement comes to mainstream attention, and of course which lead to the inevitable demise of Angel. Also there’s a scene when Michael and his girlfriend piss in a bathtub and it makes me very uncomfortable and I just want to put that out there. Was it supposed to cute or something? Because it isn’t.
After watching this movie, I became very interested in researching club kids, and while the “Actual” club kid culture is virtually dead, it lives on vicariously through raves and many forms of fashion. The idea was self expression in its purest form. “You should look exactly how you feel.” The movement certainly had some negative implications, including excessive drug use, but at its heart, it was just a bunch of kids who didn’t fit into society, and so they created their own.
Party Monster is nothing if not unique. The acting is a little overdone, but after a while that starts to become endearing. It also has an amazing sound track, or at least in my opinion it does. I have a fetish for 80’s dance music with heavy synth. Sue me (don’t actually sue me, I’m a broke college student). An acquaintance of mine mentioned that she appreciated that this movie doesn’t “feel contrived like some other movies like it do”. I attribute that to the fact that both of us are heavily involved in strange underground cultures ourselves. We’re aware that there really are people this bizarre in the world. I feel that to the right audience, this movie would actually feel extremely contrived. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many questioned the legitimacy of the tale. If you like movies that feel a little offbeat, have an obscure vibe, or you just really want to see Seth Green in a dress, track down a copy of Party Monster. Or just watch in on YouTube. You thieving bastard, you.