Bus Party to Hell (2018)
Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky
Thanks to October Coast for screening this one for me.
Bus Party to Hell is the perfect movie review for me to go on an itty-bitty rant.
There is this thing in horror films that is rather common where indie creators do everything they can to get a “star”. This makes perfect sense as it is perceived that stars sell tickets. However, it has also been shown that, except for a few celebrities at the top, stars no longer have the selling power they once did. People are more likely to go see their favorite character or series regardless of who is in the movie. Generally, horror films don’t get those big-name stars and I think that most of us have our favorites that probably aren’t on the A-list.
It feels sort of cheap to me when a “star” is shoehorned into a film just to put their name on the poster. I feel robbed in a way. Perhaps this is something that shouldn’t get to me at all, but it does. Tara Reid is billed as this movies star, yet I am happy to say that she is barely in it. The moment that she kicks the bucket is her finest moment. The poster has a giant image of her on it. All of the production stills I have seen feature her. In my opinion, Sadie Katz is the actual star of this movie – which is something we talk about in an interview that you can read at the end of this post.
So, while I understand the reasons for it, I wish that filmmakers would stop this shit. I loathe purchasing a movie because it says it stars Brad Dourif only to find that he is in it for 2 minutes – for example. It puts a stench on a movie that could have done without it. I’m already bummed that I am out 10 or 15 bucks for a 2-minute cameo, even if the rest of the movie is really good, I might be too upset to care. That wasn’t the case here. This was a screener and I would never buy anything because freaking Tara Reid was in it anyway.
Party Bus to Hell, or as the kids are calling it these days, Bus Party to Hell is a pretty decent flick once it gets going. The story goes that a bunch of young folks are traveling to burning man on a bus driven by Joan (Katz). It just so happens that the bus “breaks down” in the desert at the same spot as a murderous group of Satan worshipers are hanging out. As you might expect, a massacre takes place, leaving 7 people alive on the bus.
There is plenty of comedy and gore to feast on in this one and I had a pretty good time chowing down. Lots of boobs, creepy crawly things, killer tattoos, and a demon performed cunnilingus. While some of the acting is a little weak here and there, mostly with the smaller parts, and some of the jokes fall flat, Bus Party is still a really fun ride.
I know that most of this review didn’t really cover the film itself and was rather self-serving, but my interview with Sadie Katz will cover more of that stuff, and I didn’t want to be too repetitive. She was really cool and I loved talking to her.
Sadie Katz has been in Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort and Blood Feast. On April 13th you can see her in Bus Party to Hell. She also is the creator and star of the documentary, The Bill Murry Experience. I got a chance to talk with her about these films and plenty more.
Tara Reid. She’s the top-billed person in this movie, right? But, she’s barely in the movie. Your character is clearly the star of the movie. So I guess the way to ask is – What is it like to deal with that sort of thing? Knowing that someone can show up for a scene and be the big deal.
Yeah, ya know, that’s kind of like a producer’s choice there…um, that’s a really fun and fabulous question. Let me answer diplomatically. You know, it’s one of those things where you go -Well, if that’s what brings eyes to the film. If someone says I’m gonna get this film because Tara Reid is in it, then Tara Reid did you a favor, ya know?
It’s in my contract that I would be 2nd billed. I took a pay cut for that. You should see the new international poster. A huge picture of Tara Reid and I’m the tiniest little thing, you can’t even tell it’s me.
It’s just the way it is.
What’s the main goal for you? Will you be happy to settle into a scream queen role, or do you want more?
I would just be happy to make enough money to afford my apartment. In seriousness, I have a 16-year-old and I think it would be pretty cool – I love your questions. They’re so honest – I think it would be pretty cool if I got consistent work. The scream queen thing – I don’t care about being famous. It’s more about getting jobs on a consistent enough basis where I can make a somewhat living doing what I love. The billing isn’t an ego trip, it’s about being able to get work. You have to be able to sell a movie to get your next job.
Unless people know your name, you’re not getting that next job. If I was doing one type of movie that would be cool, but if I were to do movies that were not horror, and, you know, Sundance movies – yeah that’d be fucking great. But, last year 30,000 movies were submitted to Sundance. So, you’ve got to be realistic about what is able to happen.
I looked at your IMDB page and it looks like you’ve got 7..8,…9 movies coming out this year?
Yeah, I do have some feature films that I don’t have top billing on but I’m really crossing my fingers that they do well enough. The horror genre, why it’s really good is that I can also supplement by doing conventions and maybe making a couple bucks. That kind of stuff means I can make a living.
Hopefully, I marry a guy that makes decent money and live happily forever after. Boom!
Actually, I would really like to make my documentaries and I’m a writer. I’d like to write a novel. so, I don’t need to be a super-millionaire but I would like to be a little comfortable, and hopefully not die a miserable death, and be able to afford botox.
Ah, botox. Is that expensive? I have no idea.
No! It’s like 400 bucks. I’m still young so I don’t need that much. You know, you start to get older and say, Oh yeah, I forgot, I’m supposed to have a savings. I don’t have a retirement account and I can barely afford, ya know, a steak dinner
Anyway, I would really like to make documentaries. To be a female Morgan Spurlock – that is my dream. And then do the horror films on the side because I love that too.
Tell me what your experience was like working on the movie. I know that’s a normal generic question, but it is what it is.
Well, I shot it in Vegas and I think it was very interesting because it was an ensemble film, which is always fun. Like American Pie but in horror. We shot it in that little bus. Originally we were going to do it on a sound stage but we ended up using an actual bus from Sin City Party Bus. We kind of had to be in close quarters and it was a challenge for me because my character is filled with all these crazy ass creatures and I’m being possessed by this sexual being. I didn’t have all this space to move while everything is happening inside me, and as an actor – not to get too thespian here, but – one of the tricks you play is that your character always has a secret. This character really did have a secret and I wanted to, hopefully, play the character so if someone watched the movie again they would actually see the progression. That I was tipping my hat to the audience a little bit, just enough so you would see that she really is kinda starting to twitch a little bit.
Even though I play these silly characters, I do try to play them as truthful, fun, and committed as I can. That’s fun for me. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and try to play the truth of the character.
It was fun because I was really only acting in about 2 feet and I wanted to see if I could make it cool, and you know, topless. Hopefully, people will see it and go, “That bitch is acting her ass off!”
Ok, Bill Murray. I really enjoyed Party Bus and my site focuses on horror but I really wanted to talk to you about The Bill Murray Experience too. So, I will just come out and ask – Do you consider yourself a crazy person?
Um, yes. I am a crazy person. That is a great question. I used to, when I was younger, tried to really run from that but I think while doing the documentary and watching so much footage of myself I started to go – Oh. I’m really a crazy person. Like, I’m different than other people and that’s ok.
If you were savvy, or not so savvy, you would say she’s bipolar. I’m bipolar. I feel things a lot. I’m not bipolar where I’m going to kill you but I’m bipolar where I feel things. I’m very, very intense so if I love something, I LOVE it. I’m very committed to things, and when I feel sad; I’m devastated, and when I’m happy, I’m VERY happy
There was some talk when I was editing whether or not I should say that and I thought it would take away from the journey. People would say that this isn’t about Bill Murray, it’s about being bipolar, and so I was decided that we won’t say that. The savvy people will understand that.
I really took finding Bill Murray to heart and if that makes me crazy to believe in something – I think it’s crazy that most people don’t.
Did you ever get your experience? Like after the movie was done.
No. So two things happened. One is that I went to go promote the film, Bill was playing, so I went to Portland and Seattle to watch his performance and to give out balloons outside the show. So, my son and I got tickets and went to the show, and at the end of the show he goes into the audience and gives out roses to certain audience members. Well, I ended up leaving before he did that. My son said, Why are you going to leave? I said because if he doesn’t hand me a rose I’m going to be upset and if he hands me a rose, I’ll be upset because I’ll just feel strange. It’s just too…I can’t explain it.
Then, I entered a contest for the Bill Murray golf tournament to be his caddy. I figured I’d leave it up to chance. I feel conflicted and I didn’t include this in the documentary because I didn’t want to say anything negative, but in some ways, I feel like Bill doing what he wants to do with fans is a little more about Bill that it is really about fans. Maybe that’s just my own opinion, but yeah I do have a little bit of jealousy because I feel like I’m promoting this and the more I talk about it, everybody is like, “Oh, I was just on the airplane and sat by Bill Murray”, and I’m like, God, as much as I said I was over it at the end of the doc, it’s going to be on my fucking gravestone. Here lies Sadie Katz. She never officially met Bill Murray.
I was going to ask about that. The “journey is the experience” ending to the documentary. It works well for a movie, but it has to be bullshit right?
Well, I have to tell you. We did a screening and it ended with me in tears saying that I am still open to having my experience. I was surprised that the audience didn’t realize that it was like a big cartoon. The people, they were really upset. they loved the doc, it won an award. I flew home and called my editor and said – They don’t understand that the whole documentary is a cartoon. I am the cartoon. I told him that I need a new cartoon at the end and said just trust me. So I sent him this voiceover and said, just animate this voiceover for me.
He did exactly what I wanted and made it even better. I couldn’t have wanted anything more for the doc. Every time I see it I get chills and it is exactly what I wanted.
So, It’s not like I don’t agree with it, I just wish it was another way. It truly is my Bill Murray experience, but I wish it weren’t. My goal was to meet Bill Murray, give him the balloons, and for him to grab me by the hand and run through [the crowd] handing out balloons, then maybe go get tuna melts at a cafe.
It seems so ridiculous, but wonderful.
My heart is still like, boy I hustled and I worked so hard. As an artist you give everything and people shit on your dreams. I wonder what it all means at the end of the day, but I look at the poster, and like, it’s in my house. I finished what I started, and you know, I think maybe that makes me a better person. I accept it. I’m a little nuts but I think when I’m 60 I’ll always have that. No one can take that away from me. It gives me an identity.
I truly wish that I didn’t have to edit this interview down so much. Sadie was a delight to talk to. So sincere and hilarious. Hopefully, I will get to talk more with her about her next project.
Casey Bartsch is a horror novelist and film critic. You can find this and other reviews – as well as top 10’s, interviews, and news – at www.FullBlownPanicAttack.com
He also recently started a youtube channel to go with the site that you can see here, but it is very early days on that.
You may find him and other like-minded people in the Facebook group, Horror, Horror on the Wall.