Killer Yacht Party (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

Jane (Maggie Marion) is an Iowa girl who’s moved out to L.A. to live with her friend Lacy (Becky Boxer) and start a new life. Unfortunately, she soon finds that she doesn’t fit into the "scene", because she’s not considered one of the "beautiful people". Despite this fact, Lacy drags her along to a hot L.A. party where she’s consistently ignored, insulted and humiliated. This was bad enough, but when the promoter of the party rents a yacht to hold his next party on, things take a turn for the worse. It seems that the boat is haunted by the ghost of the previous owner’s wife, who mysteriously died (was murdered) on its maiden voyage, and now reportedly haunts the boat. Lacy drags Jane to this party as well, but as the night progresses, the murders begin…but who’s the killer? That’s the big question. Is it the ghost of the woman who died on the boat? Is it someone else? Could it be a bit of both? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Unlike the other film I received from Troma distribution this month, Eyes of the Chameleon, this film did everything right. The characters felt deeper than just a group of carboard cutouts to be used as victims, and even though you’ll probably be happy that many of these shallow, L.A. douche bags get killed, you’ll at least be involved enough to care. Jane is a particularly sympathetic character. She’s treated as though she’s a mousy little frump, even though she’s seriously cute and will remind you of a young Phoebe Cates. Everyone around her is a shallow idiot, yet her friend Lacy seems to care a lot about her, while at the same time screwing the guy she likes. That’s a duality of character that in one sense doesn’t make much sense because Lacy really does care about her, while on the other hand it shows how shallow people in the L.A. party scene can be. The promoter is a somewhat shallow coke head as well, yet on other levels, he’s not. That’s one of the things that really pulls you into the film. The characters are complex. They’re not 100% one way or another, yet they’re bad enough that Jane sticks out like a sore thumb among them, which makes you feel for her.

Story-wise, the ending is a bit of a surprise, but looking back on it now, I’m not really sure what happened. It could have been the killer just going nuts, or it could have been the killer being possessed by the ghost of the woman who haunted the yacht. That didn’t occur to me at the time, but now that I think back on it, I guess it could have been either way. In any case, lots of people died on that boat, and the mystery surrounding the events as well as how easy it is to identify with Jane’s character, will likely pull you into the story and leave you feeling satisfied when it’s all over.

The film itself was professionally shot, and well edited. The sound was great, the lighting, even in the dark scenes, was just fine and never leaves you guessing what’s going on. The pacing of the story works well. It never feels like it’s dragging, nor are you likely to get bored during the film and find yourself reaching for the fast forward button. All in all, from the story to the acting to the technicals, this was a very well made film, which I can highly recommend for people who enjoy a good ol’ fashioned slaughter fest with a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure.

This film is available from Amazon, as well as the other outlets that sell Troma releases.