Caleb and Addison are having a party with a small gathering of friends, and a few enemies, to enjoy a hotdog cookout in their charming garden backyard. Caleb only has one strict stipulation that all cell phones be prohibited in order for everyone attending to live in the moment. Things seem to be proceeding relative well: the beef and vegan wienies are grilled to perfection, the wine flows freely to and fro, and a love triangle arises for a possible romantic outcome for a pair of singletons. What small party doesn’t expect is a pickaxe wielding manic strolling through their backyard and crashing the festivities. With one person dead and the rest trapped inside the house, a wide range of survival hypotheses begin to kick in, squashing the idyllic soiree into panic frenzy molded by a very tall, very deranged house circling murderer.
Gregory Blair’s “Garden Party Massacre” is the 2017 horror-comedy that takes progressive comedy back a decade when material was simpler, straight forward, and where satire reigns supreme from casual conversation. Blair, who not only directed, but also penned the script, is one of those recognizable names and faces entrenched into the independent film grid with credits like 2013’s “Ooga Booga” and, directing one of Its Bloggin’ Evil’s personal favorites, “Deadly Revisions,” starring Bill Oberst Jr so this will be our second PIX/SEE Productions film coverage. “Garden Party Massacre” has been on this reviewers radar for about three years now and Blair’s sophomore feature film takes a lighter approach to horror that’s more beneficially cliché, designed to be safe in the story, and still able to provide generous humor. Just as quirky as it’s titled, “Garden Party Massacre” won’t be an aggressive avalanche of bodies and blood to consume so the highly squeamish audiences can sit and tolerate the sludge-fast bloodletting to nearly the credits with a steady amount of Gregory Blair etched absurdity to push those horror-intolerants forward.
Caleb and Addison extend beyond a couple’s normal range of quarreling. Their verbally combative relationship breaks hyperbole levels on the most mundane and trivial things couples argue over. Andy Gates (“The Blessed Ones”) and Nichole Bagby hash it out as two estranged lovers at each other’s throat that becomes a candy coated resonation of the very real reality of relationship woes. They’re each joined by a pair of friends that have previously established a relationship with them as part of their character’s background. David Leeper plays Wesley, a gay friend of the couple who also is on the Caleb’s softball team, who is perhaps the most rational character in the pack and brings another teammate to the party, Lincoln, as a possible match to his testosterone desires. Gregory Blair goes full on fool with Lincoln’s thick skull persona and the writer-director is spot on as also co-star in his role. The other established friend is Reena, a role presided by fellow “Dead Revisions” star Lisa Hart who has rash moments of exaggeration, but the timing is good for her character who serves as the odd woman out of the group. Then, “RoboWoman” herself, Dawna Lee Heising, enters the picture as Melanie, the obnoxious friend with a hankering for Lincoln’s man meat, and Heisings brings her delectable indie-horror presence to the folding table and lawn chairs! Other garden partygoers includes Matt Weinglass and Marv Blauvelt (“Snake with a Human Tail”).
“Garden Party Massacre” lampoons traditional genre tropes, highlighting the flaws and exaggerating their characteristics, and director Gregory Blair purposefully intended on constructing this fun and bubbly example of how silly the situational elements can be and, sometimes are, despite the pickaxe psycho lurking around outside and the whole neighborhood turning upside down when the sudden zombie apocalypse comes spilling into their backyard like spilt lemonade. Blair pokes fun in a homaging kind of way and that’s quite endearing. However, the character dynamic became stale faster than day old bread as scene-after-scene was nearly all about bashing the other person. Someone comes up with a plan and judgement rears an ugly head. Someone heeds a warning and, again, ridicule rolls right off the tongue. After one receives their fill of colorful raillery, Lincoln’s blockish guilelessness becomes the drug of choice and a root for character.
SGL Entertainment and MVDVisual layout the picnic for “Garden Party Massacre” onto an all region DVD presented widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. Imagine presentation has all the digital pros and without any night shots, the digital noise has virtually no ground to flicker. Coloring and skin tones looks natural, aside from the obvious blue-ish green makeup of the zombies, and didn’t catch really any distortions to note. The English language stereo 2.0 surround sound favors the dialogue fairly well, upfront and with authority, but the ambience tracks, such as the birds chirping especially, are intrusive at times. There’s faint feedback at times during screaming moments. The runtime clocks in at 70 minutes and includes extras such as a music video to the film’s trashy-punk theme song, which is sung by “Constantine’s” Peter Stormare oddly enough, and trailers. “Garden Party Massacre” is the recipient of 9 film festival awards, including Best Comedy and Best Film, and rightfully so considering being a purposeful caricature mockup of horror well executed by Gregory Blair and crew.