(Originally an IP Movies Review)
I’ve spent a lot of time with slasher films this past month. Most have been from the 1980s, when the slasher flick was king, but some have been more recent outings that pay homage to those films genre fans have come to adore. Killer Yacht Party, from Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Entertainment, is one of the latter: a modern-day slasher film that exists because the filmmakers revere the 80s horror scene. For better or worse, director Piotr Uzarowicz sticks closely to the Slasher Movie Formula, and Killer Yacht Party is stuffed with mediocre acting (with a couple exceptions), a slow-moving plot, and a questionable twist ending.
In Killer Yacht Party, Jane (Maggie Marion) has moved from Iowa to Los Angeles to start a new life as a songwriter. She lives with her sexy and promiscuous friend Lacy (Becky Boxer), who coaxes “Plain Jane” to accept an invite to a yacht party they’ve received. Unfortunately they don’t realize that the boat may be haunted until it’s too late. Years earlier a wife was supposedly killed by her husband on the yacht’s maiden voyage, and her spirit is still rumored to haunt anyone that comes on board. As the party continues, the drugs start kicking in, and the sex picks up in every corner of the yacht, someone – or something – starts murdering the partygoers, and Jane and Lacy are left fighting for survival.
The story has a lot of potential to bring something special to the slasher genre, but the yacht gimmick isn’t used to its fullest potential. The movie is obviously going for the supernatural slasher vibe, and a giant, supposedly haunted yacht is perfect fodder for “jumpy” scares, but the director never takes advantage of this, which is a major disappointment. The result is a slasher film with little to no tension.
The other problem with the story is the obvious red herring that the writer and director try jamming down the viewer’s throat. This red herring is pushed more in Killer Yacht Party than in any other slasher film I’ve seen. It makes it obvious that this Character X is not the killer early on, again robbing the viewer of possible tension.
There is a wide range of acting talent seen in Killer Yacht Party. Maggie Marion – playing Jane – does a nice job with her role, and is given the most developed character of the bunch. She is the type of girl most people would want to hang out with because she’s sweet, funny, and has a Midwestern charm. Her best friend Lacy is the complete opposite, and a total club girl. She has sex with anything that moves, wears clothes that show off her best features, and is a terrible friend. Becky Boxer plays one note throughout the entire film – the slutty seductress – but this is more a problem of the script than Boxer’s work. She is gorgeous, but that is the only memorable feature of her character.
The one actor who is consistently strong throughout is James C. Burns as the Captain. He is interesting and mysterious right from his introduction, drawing the audience towards him. His character is not as deep as I would have liked, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a slasher film. Burns builds one of the two memorable characters on the boat, and it is obvious why his resume is the deepest of all the cast members. Some of the other actors appear decent at first, but when the emotionally intense scenes hit, they fall apart and seem incredibly fake. This is the mark of a detached actor, and if the actor isn’t connected with what is going on to his or her own character, the audience can’t be either.
Killer Yacht Party was shot on a low-budget, and this shows up most prominently during the kill scenes. I expect a lot of blood and gore from a movie when it is released from Troma Entertainment, but Killer Yacht Party doesn’t deliver. There is blood, but it is light, and the special effects are boring. A lot of the kills are edited so that the audience only sees the aftermath, which is exciting maybe once or twice. Gorehounds want to see the entire murder, not just the hook sticking out of the throat with a bit of blood. Before I popped Killer Yacht Party in my DVD player, I expected the special effects work to shine, but this aspect is one of the most underwhelming in the film.
Aside from a random killing in the beginning of the movie – which is never really explained – it takes a good hour before Killer Yacht Party takes off with the murders. If the buildup to this moment were more fulfilling for the audience, this wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, the viewer spends an hour getting to know a lot of soulless partygoers that are forgotten seconds after they’re murdered. Maybe with a stronger start, or a more justified/important killing at the top, the pace wouldn’t suffer as much as it does.
Killer Yacht Party reeks of another independent film that doesn’t live up to its potential, and is incredibly mediocre. Its use of a lot of standard slasher film stereotypes doesn’t make it worth watching. There are hundreds of other slasher films that exist merely to pay homage to that 80s era of horror that are a lot better than Killer Yacht Party, and slasher fans should seek out those films instead of this lackluster effort.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.