[31 Days Of Horror ’22] Mini Reviews: Killer Party (1986) and The Mad Genius (1931)

Mini Review
Day 03: ‘Catch Up’
Killer Party (1986)

My love for 80’s horror has always been strong, when I find a title I haven’t seen before, generally I am keen to check it out. Killer Party (1986) was on my 31 Days Of Horror watch list last year but with burn out I didn’t get to it and I put it on this year’s list early as that poster really sold me on it. The film certainly feels like an 80’s horror film, but it is a strange mixed bag and never quite knows what sort of film it actually wants to be.

Starting off with a movie, within a music video was confusing but also a fun way to kick off a film, sadly it doesn’t reach those heights again until the last 15 to 20 minutes. Most of the film plays out almost like scenes in a pornography film without the pornography, with girls trying to get into a sorority and going through some odd hazing and pranks. Enter an abandoned frat house that has an evil demonic spirit attached to it and things eventually go off the rails.

Killer Party isn’t quite a slasher and it isn’t quite a possession film, it’s a very weird mish/mash of things that don’t quite form a whole. It drags in parts and fails to be fully engaging, despite the best efforts from a solid cast and likeable leads. It is a mixed bag, with positives and negatives, it didn’t quite capture me as other similar films and doesn’t really reach the heights of its beginning.

Rating:

Mini Review
Day 04: ‘From the 1930s’
The Mad Genius (1931)

Films from the 30s are quite interesting, the first decade of films with audio and dialogue, with a number of films being made before the Hays Code and those remain incredibly intriguing. The Mad Genius (1931) is a precode film from Warner Bros, in what would be John Barrymore’s final for the studio and it works as a non-tradition horror film in the most chilling way.

Vladimar Ivan Tsarakov (John Barrymore) is a puppeteer with a disability, one night after seeing a young boy escape the clutches of his awful father (Boris Karloff), he takes in the boy and vows to make him the greatest dancer. Years later the boy Fedor (Donald Cook) is an accomplished ballet dancer with Tsarakov still pulling the strings to better Fedor’s career. Things get complicated when Fedor falls for fellow dancer Nana (Marian Marsh) and Tsarakov is non to pleased and conspires to split them apart with dire consequences.

The true horror within in the film lies with Tsarakov, who showcases the most toxic traits with lies, manipulation and gaslighting. He is rather evil, wanting to stop at nothing to live vicariously through Fedor by making him a big success. This is a psychological nightmare, the torment of Tsarakov is extremely chilling and the performance by John Barrymore is exquisite. There is no blood and gore in The Mad Genius, whilst it may be seen as more of a drama, it is at its heart a pure horror film of torment.

Rating:

Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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