If the red-band trailer we posted earlier this month and the retro-themed poster art weren’t enough of a hint, Drew Marvick's ‘Pool Party Massacre’ is a throw-back 80s style slasher.
There are plenty of slashers which promise to live up to the lofty standards of slasher mayhem set in its heyday decade, but often the banner of homage stifles a titles identity and, well I suppose, being honest (despite hope) the copies seldom come close to the originals.
I am pretty pumped to state that ‘Pool Party Massacre’ nails it. In the vein of many second wave slasher movies, PPM hopes to charm, not with innovation, but providing more of all the things you want from a stalk and slash movie.
The official synopsis: “What started out as a relaxing summer day by the pool for a group of high maintenance young socialites quickly becomes a nightmare, when an unknown killer begins stalking and murdering them one by one.”
The plot follows a group of bikini-clad of young girls, a couple of lads and a whole lot of entitlement. My god, if anything encapsulates why, as slasher fans, we have a macabre tendency to route for the killer, its characters such as these. Clever writing brings us a group of the most obnoxious young people you would have the displeasure of meeting. A shout out to lead actress Kristin Noel McKusick who plays hostess and queen-B Blaire. She balances her characters traits perfectly. She is thoroughly unlikable in every-way, but there are elements of dry humour and just enough self-awareness to somehow make you warm to her onscreen antics. Indeed, this writing, for all characters ensures that when the slashing is toned down, the film remains vibrant and interesting - a rare trait in a slasher movie! At times the film plays for laughs, and come across a little cringy, but for the most part the genre references and adolescent humour mixed with T&A keeps the pace moving.
That said, there is little time in this movie when the slashing isn’t happening. I mentioned 2nd wave slashers in my opener, so think high body count and outrageously gruesome kills!
As I watched the diversity of brutal and bloody murders play out on the somewhat deserving character base my mind drifted back to comparable films such as ‘The Mutilator’ and ‘Pieces’, films which, like this traded feasibility for impact. In this title our killer chooses to kill each of the girls (and a couple of other innocent bystanders) utilising a plethora of tools from his shed. This means we get to see OTT kills from blades, drills, strimmers and one absolutely killer hammer meets jaw scenario amongst others. The kills are shown in all their gruesome goodness and as far as I can tell there is no-CGI in sight. The effects are good, and I really appreciated how each kill was clearly designed to be more memorable from the last. Whether it be death in the shower, death whilst tied up in kinky sex game or death whilst having a wank in the bathroom, the body-count-movie influences shine through.
Outside of the films main selling points – boobs and blood – the film does an admirable job in making this feel like an 80s slasher through its other technical elements. The mixture of heavy metal and a throbbing synth score help with the nostalgia, and the camera shots – especially some of the aftermath shots, could be taken straight out of trailers from the decade. The one thing I would comment on is the picture quality; its too clinical. I would have loved to see some faux film grain and some darker shots for some of the kill sequences. It would have helped make the special effects look a little more authentic and would have nailed the atmosphere of VHS slashers even more. My two cents anyhow.
Overall, if you are a fan of 80s slashers then I would definitely be making an effort to check ‘Pool Party Massacre’ out. It has its flaws, but as I am happy to remind those who wear the proverbial ‘rose-tinted-spectacles’, so did a lot of the slashers films of the 80s. If you can look past the occasional cringy moment, you will have a lot of fun with this title.
This, a bag of popcorn, and the recently remastered copy of ‘The Mutilator’ and you’ve got yourself am evening of campy blood-drenched mayhem right there.