Party Monster

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Steeping the screen in '80s music and club culture, filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato enlist a keen and highly imaginative filmmaking style to recreate the disturbing events that led to the famed murder of Angel Melendez.

Party Monster, based on the book Disco Bloodbath, focuses on the relationship between Michael Alig and James St. James, two kids from the Midwest who found their way to New York and reinvented themselves as "fabulous" people. James initiated Michael into the New York club scene, but it was Michael who made it into the limelight. Club kids were drawn to him and became the Lost Boys to his Peter Pan. Nothing with Michael was ever done in moderation, including his initiation into the fine-tuned world of designer drugs. But his invented perfect life came spiraling down and was finally halted with an atrocious act of murder.

Macaulay Culkin, as Michael, makes a brave and miraculous transition to adult actor, adopting his real-life counterpart's extreme charisma and the telltale twinkle in his eye. Seth Green and the rest of the cast stay out of the shadows as characters necessary to the successful forging of this cautionary tale. Directors Bailey and Barbato pull out all the stops to creatively craft a veritable cinematic collage. In their version of Party Monster, hallucinations turn revelatory, overdoses serve as rights of passage, and one lost boy's tale is told without apology.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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