Tag Archives: Christopher Patrick

‘It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To’ Still Rips

The word “cheap” is frequently used as an insult when referring to filmmaking. Horror films especially are often derided for their low budgets. One of the great things about horror, though, is that creators can do a lot with a little. Budget constraints can lead to brilliant innovations, or they can simply lead to charming popcorn flicks like 2007’s It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To. This micro-budget movie played a few small festivals upon its release, and you can currently only stream it on FlixFling. It’s a low-key supernatural slasher made with a lot of love and not a lot of money. While it’s not an unheralded masterpiece, it is a fun movie that’s well worth your time. It’s a great example of when “cheap” horror movies embrace their cheapness, transcending their financial limitations to create joyful, aspirational horror. 

It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To is best described as a mash-up of Night of the Demons and Creepshow. Ever since Jacob Burkitt (Christopher Patrick) murdered his whole family there over 70 years ago, Burkitt Manor has been haunted. Sara (Adrienne Fischer) is turning 18 on Halloween, and her friends are throwing her a surprise party. Since Sara loves all things horror, her friends decide that Burkitt Manor is the perfect place for the party. Of course, things start to go wrong as the teenagers set up, and demons begin killing and possessing Sara’s friends until she’s the only one left to fight the newly awakened evil. 

In true indie horror fashion, the cast and crew are quite small, with names repeated in multiple departments. Writer-director Tony Wash also edited and, along with Rhodrick Magsino, provided the film’s score. The movie feels padded at times, perhaps to make sure its runtime (79 minutes) was long enough to qualify as a feature for festival consideration. Comic book panels provide transitions between scenes, repeating stills and lines of dialogue we just saw. At one point, there’s a musical montage of Sara getting dressed for the party (with a hefty role saved for her adorable dog) and her friends decorating Burkitt Manor. The camera tracks from one panel to another, dragging out the proceedings a bit but never overstaying its welcome. It’s a charming affectation that pays homage to horror’s past while also drawing attention to the logistical considerations of indie filmmakers. 

The film opens with Uncle Tom (Tom Savini) turning on the electricity to Burkitt House as a favor to his nephew Travis (Oliver Lucach), one of Sara’s friends. It’s a thrill to see Savini, not just because you’re excited to see a horror icon in such a small film, but because he’s a hell of an actor. He’s justifiably legendary for his effects work, but Savini’s acting chops (and CV) are impressive in their own right. He brings both an extra sense of fun and some genre heft to the proceedings. When he pretends to fix the house’s circuit breaker, he’s clearly just pantomiming with his fingers below the camera. He sells his actions with his facial expressions, not with any fancy camera tricks or effects (ironic, considering his skills in that department). 

By drawing attention to the artifice and emphasizing the low budget, the scene actually underscores the joy of movies. It’s all make-believe. This cast and crew got together with a few bucks and an old house to make a scary movie for the audience’s benefit. There’s a camaraderie, a kinship, that immediately develops between the film and the audience. We’re all in on the gag, and we’re in it together. We suspend our disbelief, not because the special effects are so costly and seamless, but because we’re rooting the movie on. (Though, to be fair, the gore effects are great, especially for the budget. Blood geysers spurting from chopped-off limbs and disgusting creature effects will pacify gorehounds looking for grue and guts.) The creators clearly love the genre, and we do too, so we cheer on their ingenuity and their scrappiness. 

The original DVD trailer for It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To

It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To is the perfect mixture of sincere and self-aware. It has small nods to horror classics: Sara’s mom (Karen Nelson) says she prefers Freddy to Jason, Sara watches public domain mainstay Night of the Living Dead in her room, and one of Sara’s friends asks, “So, do you think I’ve got a chance with Ben Tramer tonight?” Wash is clearly a John Carpenter fan, even thanking him in the film’s end credits. But those references and Easter eggs never overwhelm the film, which focuses more on its thin but engaging story of teens partying in a haunted house. Wash teases out some truly creepy moments, especially in the final 20 minutes. Occasionally astute framing escalates the tension as her friends tour the haunted property, but It’s My Party… really comes alive when Sara finally makes her way into Burkitt Manor. 

With her friends quickly dispatched by the evil that dwells in Burkitt Manor, Sara is left alone in the house, stuck in an Elvira costume and surrounded by demons. In an earlier musical montage (yes, another one) the film helpfully establishes Sara as a combat expert. She works out, practicing her karate moves and lifting weights, making her ass-kicking turn at Burkitt Manor more believable. Sara truly has (well, had) the best friends in the world: not only did they throw her a haunted house surprise party, but they got her a katana as a gift. It comes in handy when demonic creatures start attacking her. The film leans a bit into Evil Dead II territory here, embracing the inherent comedy of a katana-wielding teen girl facing off against an undead horde. 

Sara rips off her Elvira wig, throwing it at a nearby stereo and somehow turning it on to play the perfect needle drop. “A Fifth of Beethoven,” the iconic mash-up of disco and classical music, is the soundtrack for Sara’s knock-down, drag-out fight with a gooey demon. She kicks, punches, and slices the demon with her butterfly knife, throwing her own birthday cake in its face and finally lopping off an arm with her katana. Once she’s finally defeated her foe, she opens the door to escape…only to find the rest of her party guests have arrived. As they swarm in, she gets trapped once again in the house, finally falling prey to the army of demons that descend on the partygoers. As someone clearly throws a bucket of fake blood up against a window, we cut to the comic book-style credits as rock music blares. It’s an audacious ending, and an incredibly satisfying one.

It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To isn’t a lost classic, but it is a lot of fun. It’s a film I often find myself thinking about precisely because it’s such a scrappy, low-budget effort. It’s well done, with deadpan humor, admirable low-budget practical effects, and a gloriously ridiculous Final Girl showdown. The film gets the viewer on its side quickly with its canny combination of sincerity and tongue-in-cheek self-awareness. It knows it’s a cheap horror movie, and it’s proud of that fact. There’s no shame in having a low budget. What matters is what you do with your money, not how much you have of it. Wash and company know that, and they’ve made a movie that transcends its “cheapness” to prove what horror-loving filmmakers can do with a few bucks and a camera. With limited funds, It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To crafts a gory, funny, charming horror flick.