Reviews

Halloween Party (1989)

“Halloween” and “party” are two words that describe everything I want in life. So it’s no surprise that Halloween Party is everything I want in life.

It’s Halloween night! Becky’s having a party! And everyone’s there, except that girl from homeroom with the red hair because Becky “hates her so much!” The party is decked out with a two liter of 7 Up, a bowl of Doritos, and a plaid living room furniture set that looks like it just arrived from W.A.V.E. Productions headquarters. Becky and pals catch a news alert that concerns some mysterious vandalism at the local cemetery. Could it have something to do with the urban legend about a psychopathic farmer who murdered children on his splatter farm? Who cares! Because soon after, a killer wearing a flannel and a rubber skull mask crashes Becky’s party and annihilates everyone with a machete.

Halloween Party is a 30-minute short that was shot on a camcorder in Cheshire, Connecticut by teenager Dave Skowronski. It was broadcast on Halloween night in 1989 on a public access station as part of The D.J.P. Halloween Special. This was an hour-long mixtape that also featured Skowronski as a horror host, a Freddy Krueger parody video, an early Super 8 short called Sasquach [sic], a choreographed music video for “Monster Mash” starring the cast of Halloween Party, and a sequence of two monster masks lip-synching to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.”

I’m aware that all of this sounds made up, like that time I played drums in Nirvana. But that’s what makes Halloween Party so special. This isn’t an hallucination. It’s not a dream. This is a real-life artifact that materialized out of oblivion when Skowronski uploaded it to YouTube and the world became a better place.

Halloween Party is a minimalist slasher that features stolen music from Halloween, 8-bit text crawls, and a cast of real-life teenagers who talk very fast. While it follows the basic template of other shot-on-video hangout slashers like Blood Lake, Halloween Party is less of a “real movie” and more of a “home movie.” That’s what makes it cross the threshold from a charming curiosity to a time-warp treasure chest that overflows with Halloween mood. Like Girls at the Carnival and Metalhead Teens in a Record Store, Halloween Party is a document of teens hanging out and being themselves during a time that will never exist again. The only difference is that this snapshot takes the form of a narrative horror movie. The kids in Halloween Party crack up when they flub a line, call each other names like “lame-o,” and stare blankly at the ground when Skowronski feeds them lines. In other words, they act exactly how you or I would act in the same situation at age 14. That relatable naiveté is what makes the movie so pure and joyful — for one night only, they lived to make Halloween Party. From the scene of three kids driving to pick up a pizza to the hilarious sick burn battle between two girls, we feel that infectious energy in every frame. It’s a gentle reminder that the world isn’t always a pit of flaming hot garbage.

My favorite detail about Halloween Party is the name of the cemetery caretaker, which is Frida Frump.

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