Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fenton Bailey
|Produced by||Jon Marcus
James St. James
|Music by||Jimmy Harry|
|Editing by||Jeremy Simmons|
|Distributed by||Strand Releasing|
|Release date(s)||January 18, 2003 (Sundance)
May 15, 2003 (Cannes)
September 5, 2003 (United States; limited)
October 17, 2003 (UK)
|Running time||98 minutes|
Party Monster is a 2003 American biographical crime and drama film that details the rise and fall of infamous New York party promoter Michael Alig. The movie stars Macaulay Culkin as the drug-addled "King of the Club Kids." Also in the film are Seth Green as the flamboyant and slightly smarter James St. James, Dylan McDermott as Alig's boss/father figure Peter Gatien, Chloë Sevigny as Alig's girlfriend Gitsie, Wilmer Valderrama as his onetime boyfriend DJ Keoki, Wilson Cruz as drug dealer/Club Kid wannabe Angel Melendez, and Marilyn Manson as Christina, a transsexual member of Alig's entourage. A number of real life club kids appeared as extras, including fashion designer Richie Rich and David LaChapelle's transsexual muse Amanda Lepore.
The film is based on St. James' memoir "Disco Bloodbath", and details his friendship with Alig, which fell apart as Alig's drug addiction worsened, and ended after he murdered Melendez and went to prison. A 1998 documentary on the murder, also called Party Monster: The Shockumentary, was used for certain elements of the film.
Party Monster made its world premiere at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2003, and later played at the Cannes Film Festival in May of that year. On September 5, 2003, the film was put on limited release to different art house theaters in major US cities.
Based on the book "Disco Bloodbath", by James St. James, the film opens with Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin) as a small-town outcast who lived with his mom before moving to New York. Michael learns the New York party scene from James St. James (Seth Green), who teaches him the "rules of fabulousness" (If two or three people are posing for a photo, make sure you're the one standing on the right so the caption will read your name first, Once something appears in print it automatically becomes true, there is no such thing as bad publicity, never dish anyone in print, etc.). Despite James' warning Alig hosts a party at a local club (Limelight) which is owned by Peter Gatien (Dylan McDermott) and soon becomes the hottest club in New York, with Alig at the head. Alig is named "King of the Club Kids" and goes on a cross country search for more club kids. Alig and James pick up Angel Melendez (Wilson Cruz), Gitsie (Chloë Sevigny), and Brooke (Natasha Lyonne). Soon after meeting, Gitsie becomes Alig's new girlfriend and her friend (Brooke) and Angel move into Michael and James's New York apartment. However, after Michael descends into the world of drug abuse, his life starts to spiral out of control, eventually culminating in his involvement in the murder of Angel. Gitsie and Michael decide to go to rehab and treat it as a "Second Honeymoon", leaving James behind. James then begins to write his "Great American Novel" published as Disco Bloodbath and later as Party Monster.
The film received mixed, however mainly negative reviews. It currently holds a 26% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 74 reviews (55 negative, 19 positive). It was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Esteemed critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, calling Culkin's performance "fearless", though he remarks that "the movie lacks insight and leaves us feeling sad and empty--sad for ourselves, not Alig--and maybe it had to be that way".
The film was only given a limited release. According to Box Office Mojo, the film only made $742,898 out of a budget of $5,000,000 in its theatrical release.
However, the film has gained a cult following through DVD rentals and airings on cable television. Many clubs in major American cities have hosted Party Monster-theme parties. Also, Rocky Horror-type midnight screenings have begun to occur in several cities.
The film was released on DVD in the United States and Canada in February 2004 through 20th Century Fox/Trimark Pictures; the DVD contained various cast interviews, an audio commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, the film's original theatrical trailer, and a real interview with Michael Alig as bonus materials. As of 2009, the DVD has been discontinued and is now largely unavailable for purchase at standard retail stores.