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Party Monster

4.0 out of 5 stars 227 customer reviews

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(Feb 10, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Party Monster is a curiosity: a fictional version of events already covered in documentary form (see Party Monster: The Shockumentary) by this film's co-directors, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, best known for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Party Monster, theatrically released in 2003, also signals the return of Macaulay Culkin to films after a long absence. Culkin plays 1980s club kid-turned-killer Michael Alig, a small-town boy who arrives in New York in search of reinvention on the Ecstasy-fueled party scene. Alig ascends from rube to ringmaster, organizing Fabulous happenings and anointing, in Warhol-like fashion, various transvestites and studly naifs the era's new superstars. Seth Green plays Alig's arch but more reticent co-conspirator and roommate, James St. James. Green is more grounded in character than Culkin, though neither actor is convincing as a deluded drag queen. Despite interesting material, the directors never reveal what makes Alig a compelling figure in Manhattan's social history. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

  • Featurette
  • Interview with Michael Alig
  • Cast interviews
  • Behind the scenes

Product Details

  • Actors: Seth Green, Macaulay Culkin, Diana Scarwid, Chloë Sevigny, Marilyn Manson
  • Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
  • Format: Anamorphic, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: February 10, 2004
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00014K5TQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,924 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Party Monster" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 23, 2004
Format: DVD
It looks like the lovable little boy from "Home Alone" has grown up. Macaulay Culkin is now in his early 20s and stars in this outrageous and rather sick story of Michael Alig, a real-life club kid of the early 1990s, who is now serving a long prison term for murder. This 2003 film is not only his story, it is also the story of a time and a place and a world that it no more. It's about parties and fantasy outfits and the shock value of indeterminate gender.. But mostly, it's about a drug culture that catered to these party people, and how it destroyed Alig's life. Culkin does an outstanding acting job in the role, bringing a touch of humanity to the character as well as a great deal of ego and evil.

Based on a book entitled "Disco Bloodbath" by James St. James, who actually lived through these years, the author is a major character in the story. Seth Green is cast in this role and plays it to the hilt, a party person who likes to play but stops short of the excesses that push Alig over the edge. The rest of the cast is full of some of real party people, with Marilyn Manson playing a drag queen.

One of the scary things about this film is how real it feels. The small subculture of partygoers search for thrills, their makeup and clothing screaming for attention. Their brains are addled with drugs and their purpose in life is only to draw attention to themselves. It's fame without substance or meaning and its all mindless. But, with the exception of the Culkin character, their carryings on doesn't really harm anyone but themselves.

I didn't expect to like this film. I almost shut it off after the first 15 minutes. However, it was so intense that I just kept watching. And I was eventually swept into the story and the people and the world that it depicted, a colorful bubble world which inevitably burst and is no more. This film recalls that bubble, including all the horror as well as the fun. Recommended.
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If you expect to watch a plot driven movie,this is not for you. This film uses a murder to draw you into the time of the Club Kids, a time when it only mattered if you were seen.

I sat down to watch this out of boredom. I am not a fan of Macaulay Culkin and did not think I would last the entire film. Instead, after writing this review, I will be watching Party Monster again.

This film is almost as much about the time as it is about the people. Michael Alig and James St. James happened to be the people who took us to the late 80s, early 90's pre-Giuliani New York night club scene in this film. My exposure to the Club Kids prior to viewing this film was limited. I had managed to see them on Joan Rivers and thought what they were doing was a cool idea, just living to be seen, in a sense. The young men and women were existing for the next party, the next person to give them attention and the next high (both natural and chemically induced).

This movie transports you to a time and place that most of us will never experience, and it manages to do it quite well. The beginning and end did not fit in with the rest of the film and the attempt to bookend the film did not quite work out well, although the end did tie in reminder that Alig only cares for attention in case we had forgotten what his driving force is. I still found these scenes to be tacked on. They did help me travel from now back to the time period of the film and back again but it still seemed a bit disjointed.

Make no mistake, this film is low budget. This was especially obvious in a couple of scenes that take place outside the club on the street. I could almost see the tape for the roped off area, the lack of natural foot traffic was obvious.
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Format: DVD
There really is a Michael Alig and he really is doing time for beating his boyfriend's brains out with a hammer and then, just for good measure, injecting Drano into his veins. (Note that the folks at Drano claim it won't hurt your pipes but say nothing about your circulatory system.)

Though this nightmarish tale is based on a true story, the thrust of it is a surreal view of human emptiness and superficiality, a point most reviewers seem to miss. The Andy Warhol "Factory" set the stage for manufactured people who looked like they might be interesting but were in fact fabricated non-entities, ciphers. That was Warhol's genius, making nothing look like something. The wave of club kids depicted in this movie are just the next generation of thoroughly empty thrill-seekers, gripping onto instant pleasure and making sure to stay one step ahead of fashion. That there is no character insight IS the character insight, that is the point of these little monsters. They are the most extreme manifestation of our hedonism and shallowness.

All of this is revealed by Macaulay Culkin as Alig, who gives a performance that is heroic, fearless, mesmerizing, and chilling all at once. Culkin inhabits Alig, which must have been haunting and sad. He plays Alig as a staggeringly insecure hayseed whose determination to get "inside" is awe-inspiring. Once inside, he becomes grandiose, cruel, and mad, peddling ever faster to maintain the manic illusion of happiness. Culkin's performance could not have soared so high without Seth Green next to him. Green, first in the role of mentor, presents a scaled down version of the same obsession with superficiality, but, amusingly, seems to know it. Increasingly bitter because of Alig's ascent, he nonetheless maintains a certain amount of concern.
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