Everyone loves a bit of the 80s, don’t they? The music, the neon lights, the outrageous fashion, and who could forget the party lines? Yes, that’s right, before the internet had us all glued to our phones, some folk got their kicks on the party line, a place where people could talk to ‘like-minded’ strangers via phone whilst paying for the privilege. Racking up hefty phone bills was part and parcel, but as long as people were able to get their rocks off then many would have called it money well spent. So what better way to warn the youth of the 1980s about stranger danger than to make a slasher based on those late night calls.
Party Line follows upper-class siblings Seth and Stacy who live a secluded life in their family’s Beverly Hills mansion. Sharing a passion for murder, they entice lustful strangers using sexually driven party lines before dispatching them with a razor blade to the throat. With the body count rising and a Detective's girlfriend caught up in the horror, it’s only a matter of time before their nefarious actions come to an end.
Starring Richard Hatch, Shawn Weatherly and Leif Garrett, Party Line contains a host of memorable faces from the past with Richard Roundtree also making the occasional appearance throughout. Although it may have initially gone under the radar upon its original release, it’s now coming to Blu-ray for the very first time. Newly scanned and restored in 4K from its original 35mm negative, Vinegar Syndrome has done a jaw-dropping job at giving this forgotten oddity an overhaul for new and old fans alike. Visually the film has never looked so good thanks to the crystal clear quality of the 4K which manages to enhance John Huneck’s cinematography to dizzying new heights.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the direction, as William Webb’s attempt at creating a competent slasher just falls short of hitting the mark. Admittedly, the film never takes itself too seriously, however it’s a shame that they didn’t have more fun with the almost camp delivery of its premise. Still, there's a certain charm to be had when watching this nostalgic blast from the past. Whether it’s the bold and brash colours popping out from the screen or the synthesised beats of 80’s disco, there is plenty to entertain those who love a solid B-movie.
Party Line is a true product of its time and, although more imagination could have been put into many of the deaths, there’s still a lot here that’ll please newcomers to the film. There’s not much in the way of extras apart from an interview with screenwriter Richard Brandes. Talking in depth about what inspired him to write the screenplay, this will be an interesting detour for those who want to know more about the film's development. One for the connoisseurs of cult cinema, Party Line is a visual treat that’ll please fans of B-movies but may potentially bewilder the uninitiated.
Special Features: Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative, Party Line Fever - interview with screenwriter Richard Brandes, Original theatrical trailer, Reversible cover artwork, English SDH subtitles.
PARTY LINE / CERT: UNRATED / DIRECTOR: WILLIAM WEBB / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD BRANDES, TOM BYRNES / STARRING: RICHARD HATCH, RICHARD ROUNDTREE, SHAWN WEATHERLY, LEIF GARRETT, GRETA BLACKBURN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (USA)