Party Day Massacre Stories is a movie in the same way that I would be a surgeon if I were to sneak into a hospital, steal some scrubs and haphazardly dig around a patient’s chest cavity with a can opener. Yes, I’m technically performing an operation, but no one involved will be better off for my actions.
The epitome of “hold my beer” filmmaking, it appears to have been shot over a drunken weekend, with little foresight and no apparent talent involved, unless you’re using “talent” as a euphemism for naked women. Even the title — an inelegant mashup of slasher (“Massacre”) and anthology (“Stories”) — is inept, and as it turns out, provides only a small taste of the torture to come. (In hindsight, the first clue should’ve been the fact that I could find no indication that there’s even a movie poster for this film.)
The opening shot is so unfocused and full of background noise — the cameraman shuffling, the camera equipment clicking and a smoke detector’s low-battery alert beeping, which goes on THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MOVIE — that I initially thought, “Oh, this is one of those intentionally unpolished found footage films,” but alas, no. It’s just terrible.
The plot, if you want to call it that, involves six friends who gather for the lamest house party ever: there’s chips, popcorn AND Doritos! And to top it off, it’s in the middle of the day! (Granted, that at least explains the “Day” in the title.) After a bit of drinking and dancing, they resort to what people at lame house parties tend to do in horror movies: tell each other scary stories. Because what’s better than a scary story in broad daylight?
Each of them takes a turn telling tales that are coherent only because they’re so bafflingly simplistic, as if written by an 8-year-old whose parents have let him watch too many horror movies. Case in point: in the first story, “Anna the Vampire,” a guy accosts a woman on the street, telling her he’s a photographer who wants her to come back to his place so he can take some pictures. Of course, he actually wants sex, and of course, she turns out to be a vampire — you know, LIKE IN THE TITLE. That’s it. The end.
The next story is called “Evil Killer Spirit in a Book.” Guess what it’s about?!? I could go on, but I’d rather not relive my own private Vietnam. Suffice it to say it’s all shit, and not in a “so bad it’s good” sort of way. It’s more like “so bad you can’t fathom how someone could submit this as a finished product.” It ticks off all the bad movie checkboxes — bad acting, bad direction, bad plot, bad editing, bad dialogue, bad special effects, bad lighting — but some elements are just stunningly awful in their execution:
- The aforementioned smoke detector
- The decision to place title cards showing the passage of time (“Two minutes later…”) after EVERY. DAMN. SCENE.
- The frequency of scenes that end with the camera panning to the ceiling as if the cameraman just gave up
- The rarity of scenes in which there is more than one line of dialogue without a cut, as if one line delivered accurately was the bar for success
- The fact that the camera shakes every time someone throws a punch, like we’re watching the Hulk in a fistfight
- The number of times the actors just straight up LOOK AT THE CAMERA
Even if it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek (as indicated by the ridiculous wigs used throughout), it’s still painful. It’s painful as comedy, it’s painful as horror, it’s painful as a reflection of humanity. And it’s painfully clear that writer-director Ox Johnson likes the idea of making a horror movie more than the process of actually filming something with any artistic or technical merit.