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 o... more »f 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« less
Parties, fantasy and shock value of indeterminate gender
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 03/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Fabulous on the Surface
interested_observer | San Francisco, CA USA | 02/08/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Party Monster" the movie draws from James St. James' book "Disco Bloodbath" and from film shot for the "Party Monster" shockumentary. The "Party Monster" movie purports to tell the tale of the rise and fall of Michael Alig, using trained actors and screenwriters. There would be adjustments to the story to suit the film market. The results of this are mixed.Some pieces worked well. Strengthening the James St. James part (played by Seth Green) brought a hazy character from the shockumentary close to the center of the film. James becomes the drug-addled conscience of the movie. (There is an offsetting loss of Angel Melendez's brother, Johnny, the hero of the shockumentary.) Using real Club Kids and their actual costumes helped bring enthusiasm and energy to the film.The Peter Gatien character (Dylan McDermott) was more of a presence in the film than in the shocumentary, giving more background on the economics of hosting the Club Kids.The role of drugs in Alig's downfall was made clearer in the movie.There was a downside too.I just can't believe this Michael Alig (played by Macaulay Culkin) would be able to convice Peter Gatien to give him a chance. The real Michael Alig of the shockumentary (charismatic even behind bars) had the charm and drive to pull it off.While frequently showing Michael Alig, James St. James and others camping it up, the film takes too much care not to show Michael Alig acting on his homosexual drives. On his way to giving a first date kiss to DJ Keoki (Wilmer Valderrama) inside a garbage dumpster (don't ask), the camera cuts to skyrockets. Michael and James dance once and touch carefully, but that's all. In the shockumentary, Michael is arrested at his new boyfriend's place in New Jersey. In the movie he and girlfriend gitsie (Chloe Sevigny) take a bubble bath together, deep kiss, and are spooning as the police arrive. Mustn't frighten the audience.The death, disposal, and investigation of Angel Melendez (Wilson Cruz) were more complete and understandable in the shockumentary, although the film showed enough for me. Freez was scarier in the shockumentary. Cruz did a convincing job.Michael Alig has skin shots; there are discrete skin flashes from some Club Kids.There is an ok directors' commentary and brief actor interviews. If you really want to know what happened, read the book or see the shockumentary. If you want to see a focused story, this movie is all right. Also, if you like Seth Green here, take a look at "The Attic Expeditions.""
You Know The Party's Over When The Drano Comes Out
El Lagarto | Sandown, NH | 02/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. This is the closest you will come to a human emotion in the film.
On its face one would say that this movie had nothing going for it. The people are repulsive, one must contain one's glee when they self-destruct. The protagonist has absolutely no redeeming qualities. The side of society it illuminates is miserably sad and important only to the extent that it illustrates the illnesses of society at large. And yet, with all that, it is spellbinding viewing. Certainly Culkin's powerhouse performance explains some of it, maybe the rest is attributable to our sheer amazement that such people exist. Be warned, you'll need a strong stomach for this, we're talking Drano, not Pepto."
Throw a little glitter on it and go dancing
Brie-anne R. Emerson | Colorado | 11/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I LOVED this film. I knew of Alig and had seen "Party Monster-The Shockumentary" and wanted more. Well, "Party Monster" delivered.
Mackauly Culkin and Seth Green have both received scathing reviews of their portrayal of the wacky Club Kids Michael Alig and James St. James. They have been called plastic, over the top, and just plain too queer. Well, what better describes these two real-life larger than life characters? The actors' affected, stiff portrayals are a brilliant interpretation of the constant theatre put on by such infamous Club Kids. I used to be annoyed by Culkin, but after this, and "Saved" he has joined his brother Kieran at the top of my list of great actors. I can even forgive Seth Green his MTV affiliation after this performance.
To continue, the casting was sublime and Marilyn Manson was a stroke of genius to fill the sparkling platform shoes of Christina. The costuming was dead-on and avoided looking too "Hollywood" by maintaining that home-made quality to the outfits that were originally fashioned by broke kids. The soundtrack was appropriate but never obvious, a trap many 1980's period films fall into. The script was funny, objective, shocking and even touching at times. The cinematography was well done and I especially enjoyed the film angles in the hotel room bathroom and out of the rat's hole.
In short, I loved it. Favorite line: "That's not a crack hole, it's a rat hole. Rats on crack attack!" "
Kevin Karl | Chicago | 11/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"McCauley Culkin received some bad reviews for his portrayal of Michael Alig. I might pose that those reviewers are unfamiliar with how over-the-top club kids were in the 80's. What has been construed as bad acting is really an excellent parrotting of bad living. The slow and subtle progression from all fun and games to madness and horror was excellently done and I think this is an excellent, honest chronicle."