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On Friday nights, IndieWire After Dark takes a feature-length beat to honor fringe cinema in the streaming age.
First, the spoiler-free pitch for one editor’s midnight movie pick — something weird and wonderful from any age of film that deserves our memorializing.
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Then, the spoiler-filled aftermath as experienced by the unwitting editor attacked by this week’s recommendation.
The Pitch: Boy, Girl, or Bro — Pledge Delta Bi
There may be no greater false equivalence in American culture than that of fraternities and sororities.
For most men, the undergrad Greek system is a four-year “Wolf of Wall Street” homage featuring sticky floors, over-priced ambulance rides, and the occasional Title IX investigation. For most women, it’s a cultish reinforcement of sexist ideals requiring expensive uniforms, ritualistic dance, and performative crying over handmade crafts.
That was my experience as a pretentious college kid in the mid-2010s, anyway. Despite having never earnestly embraced frat or srat* life for myself (*yes, that’s a thing some women say out loud and on purpose), the southern school I attended made Greek life an inescapable part of campus activity. I resented its maddening double-standards then and, all things equal, probably still do. A fraternity seemed like fun, but a sorority felt eerily close to signing up for flesh-and-blood torture.
It was on a chilly night in October 2015 that I — a digital arts major steeling her patch-covered messenger bag against the very possibility of nationally organized fun — made my way to the student radio station, and first watched “Dude Bro Party Massacre III.” Tucked inside my self-imposed underdog-house with the ON AIR sign a dim maroon, I was unceremoniously blinded by a red title card.
“The film you’re about to see was almost lost forever,” it warned. “The last known broadcast was at 4 a.m. on a public access show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You would not be seeing the following images if it weren’t for a local teenager who stayed up to record it on his VCR.” Ah, so, this was important!
The feature-length slasher satire I watched that night was born out of internet sensation 5 Second Films: a YouTube channel that put out five-second shorts every day for five years. (They’re still around on various social platforms, including TikTok, but offering new content less frequently.)
I only knew about the gonzo filmmakers thanks to Reddit and had been hounding friends for weeks to watch the group’s first “real” movie with me. Alas, the women I hung out with had sexy Minion costumes to make. And the dude-bros I hung out with were preoccupied dude-bro-ing; too busy to take an hour and 43 minutes out of days I knew they started at noon.
From that silent recording booth, I bravely ignored the film’s tagline — “DON’T LET A BRO SEE IT ALONE!” — and was instantly rewarded. Co-directed by Tomm Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet, and Jon Salmon, “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” seemed tailor-made for misfits like me. Inspired by one of their early 5-second projects and a later spoof trailer, this rager of a horror-comedy is a simultaneous skewering of college party culture and ‘80s slasher tropes culminating in an absurdist reveal… that may or may not involve everyone’s favorite source of Vitamin C.
The story’s screenwriter Alec Owen stars as Brent Chirino. He’s a new pledge at Delta Bi, determined to find out what really happened to his dead twin brother, Brock Chirino. In its deliriously grotesque opening, the standalone film recounts the nonexistent events of “Dude Bro Party Massacre” and its sequel, “Dude Bro Party Massacre II.” We soon meet female slasher villain Motherface (Olivia Taylor Dudley) — a Freddy Krueger-esque gal with all-over burns and the death blow one-liners to match — against a backdrop of brutal slayings. In a matter of minutes, we witness the fantastically inventive killings of more than a dozen meathead characters, all with nicknames like Road Doggie and C-Trunk, or for the late Larry King’s cameo performance, Coach Handsey.
Soon after we meet Brent’s new brothers: Derek (Greg Sestero of “The Room” fame), Sizzler (Jimmy Wong of “John Dies at the End” fame), Samzy (Ben Gigli), Turbeaux (Pal Prado), Nedry (co-director Salmon), and Todd (Joey Scoma). Plus, there’s Todd’s girlfriend Samantha: a horndog sorority girl who really hates that she can’t just be one of the boys. Hard relate!
Swapping topless bimbos for equally topless himbos, “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is a blood-splattered blessing for any feminist horror fan who has ever felt more comfortable re-watching “Sorority Row” than actually visiting one. It takes all your slasher knowledge and every frustration you’ve ever had with toxically masculine cool kid culture, then blends them into a chunky treat worth slurping down for any occasion. No matter your plans, gender, or gendered plans this Hallo-weekend, just remember: You’re always invited to “Dude Bro Party Massacre III.” —AF
The Aftermath: Sizzler Perished in Anonymity So That We Could Laugh, Goddamnit!
I went to an art school in downtown Boston where Greek life was nonexistent (or, alternatively, it was a secret and I wasn’t cool enough to get invited). Aside from living vicariously through my brother and a brief scheme where my then-roommate Conor and I considered launching a for-profit fraternity that accepted the awkward kids who got rejected from other schools, my experience with frats is minimal.
But I don’t have to share experiences with someone to empathize with their plight — so I’m deeply concerned about the dangers that massacres apparently pose to dude bros across America. Before watching this film, I had no idea how many guys named Brock and Brent were helplessly lurking in the crosshairs of a deadly assailant named Motherface that’s waiting to pounce. Seems like the kind of thing that somebody should be looking into!
Loyal IndieWire After Dark readers might remember that I generally loathe slasher parodies.
When I’m in a charitable mood, I’ll say that’s because the genre contains more weird and hilarious oddities than anyone could watch in a lifetime, and no comedy could ever be as funny as something like “Pieces.” When I feel less charitable, I’ll say that the tropes of the genre are so well-known that there’s nothing remotely clever about lampooning them anymore. If I never watch another self-aware comedy that winks at the audience by referencing established “horror movie character behavior,” it’ll be too soon. If you ask me, slasher fandom in the 21st century is about being able to keep your encyclopedic knowledge of “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels at arm’s length and allowing one’s self get sucked into each predictable narrative anyway, because being alive is quite boring if you don’t. Metamodernism for the guys with hockey masks and chainsaws, if you will.
That said, “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” earned a slot alongside the first few “Scream” movies in the “exception that proves the rule” category. I found myself laughing out loud almost constantly — “This is Todd. We call him T-O-Double-D for short” is an elite movie quote if there ever was one. But what really separates it from the pack of lame parodies is its understanding of what makes these movies so much fun. I’ve always had a soft spots for the scenes in slasher movies that don’t contain any suspense, violence, or sex. The formula for writing these movies is so simple if you can come up with enough cool kills, but very few screenwriters not named Wes Craven have figured out a way to show characters interacting like normal humans.
Scenes like a college-aged girl unironically asking her 8-year-old brother to look under the hood of her broken down car in “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” or a Boston cop explaining that he’d trust a random college flunkie with his life in “Pieces” are slasher comedy at its finest. The logical leaps that these films have to take to make it plausible that these invincible killers never stop massacring teenagers end up creating a wildly distorted reality. When we get a chance to look at an average day in that reality, it’s always a hoot.
“Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is like an entire film of those scenes. The ill-defined relationships, bizarre cultural references, and general inability to capture normal behavior is infinitely funnier to me than the actual slashers and their victims. By leaning into that, it’s able to craft a joke-a-minute hangout movie that can hang with classics like “Wet Hot American Summer” while honoring the genre that inspired it. While I’ll always mourn the instantly-forgotten death of Sizzler, any of his friends who actually remember him should take comfort in the fact that he died in service of one of the funniest horror movies I’ve seen in a while. —CZ
Those brave enough to join in on the fun can stream “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” with Freevee on Amazon Prime Video. IndieWire After Dark publishes midnight movie recommendations at 11:59 p.m. ET every Friday. Read more of our deranged suggestions…
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