Party Monster

Party Monster


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As a fictional biopic of a real person, Party Monster is a genuine oddity. It won't appeal to straights, because the adoration of celebrity and the need to be fabulous makes little sense, unless you're a girlie girl, or gay.

Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin) is a country boy, who comes to New York to reinvent himself. With the help of James St James (Seth Green), a novelist who writes one sentence a week, when not out of his brain on heroin, he learns what you have to do to become profoundly superficial and famously noticed.

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He organises bizarre fancy dress parties at a night club in Manhattan, where cross-dressers and screaming queens let hell and high water take them down. After the death of disco, the new fix is exhibitionism, which is where gay men play out their fantasies.

It's more of a drug movie than a sex movie, culminating in an horrific murder, of which the perpetrators remember nothing. By the end, Michael is so sick, he can barely string two words together.

As a portrait of Babylon, before Aids and the Nineties doused its fire, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's film captures the mood of decadence unchained. Dialogue stands up to be slapped and performances are so camp, they belong in a zoo.

Cinematography is all over the place, which fits the haphazard style. Michael exists on other people's charity and so sings for his stash, becoming the party monster, decorated like a drunken clown, smudged and louche.

Green plays softball with James's affectations, while Culkin minces through a selection of costume changes. Once there was a boy called Kevin McCallister who stayed home alone in Chicago and the whole world loved him. Culkin has taken a hammer and beaten Kevin's head in.

After Michael Alig, who? Has Macca become a gay icon? Whatever happened to innocence?

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2003
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Flamboyant drama based on the life of club-kid promoter Michael Alig.
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Director: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato

Writer: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloë Sevigny, Marilyn Manson, Natasha Lyonne, Wilmer Valderrama, Wilson Cruz, Diana Scarwid, Dylan McDermott

Year: 2002

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2003

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