Movie Review: UGLY SWEATER PARTY (2018)

So, I think it’s pretty safe to say that UGLY SWEATER PARTY, written and directed by Aaron Mento (Flush, Choose Their Kill) is perhaps the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen so far this year, and believe me, that’s saying A LOT. It took me a while to decide whether or not it was the good or bad kind of ridiculous. By the end of the film, I landed on good.

It has some really gross humor in it, which reminds me of Troma pretty much across the board. There are also some shots that remind me a lot of the camerawork in Evil Dead or any of the “Ash” movies/TV shows of Sam Raimi’s. The film is very much the product of someone who watched a lot of low budget horror films from the 70’s/80’s, which is something I can definitely appreciate. If you’re a fan of that time period in horror, and enjoy raunchy comedy, then you will love UGLY SWEATER PARTY.

First of all, and this is a big deal in my opinion, Felissa Rose is in the movie. For those of you who don’t know (and I’m really trying to reserve judgment here), Felissa Rose played Angela in Sleepaway Camp. Funnily enough, a lot of the action in this film takes place at a camp. It’s a Christian camp, so Angela would approve, for sure. The thing is, this “Christian” camp is pretty much loaded to the gills with closeted gay people and sluts-in-retirement (and I use that term lovingly), which is a pretty great critique on Christianity itself.

I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself here. The film begins 10 years in the past on a Christmas when a serial killer, Declan Rains, is being questioned in a police “black site”. Before I go on, what the fuck is it with movies/TV shows naming their villains Declan. It’s about the only thing that movie villains and Upper East Side stroller moms have in common. Anyway, Declan is played by Sean Whalen (The People Under The Stairs and so so so many other films), who if you don’t know by name, you will one hundred percent know by face when you see him in this film.

Declan appears to have been possessed by a demon that lives inside an ugly sweater, which is made evident by the glowing pentagrams. Detective Brolin (whose name is, I believe, a nod to either James or Josh, but I’m not sure) kills Declan. Of course, it’s not that simple is it? No, it can’t be, or else we wouldn’t have a movie.

10 years in the future, we arrive in the apartment of two hapless horndog losers, Jody (Hunter Johnson, From Jennifer, Bethany) and Cliff (Charles Chudabala, From Jennifer, Irrational Fear). The two are getting ready for a Christmas party that some twins the guys slept with over Spring Break invited them to, thinking that they can get a repeat performance.

Little do they know that the (fraternal) twins, Samantha (Emily Dahm, Shhhh, Nightcrawler) and Susan (Tiffani Fest, who’s an actual twin in real life, Circus of The Dead, Trilogie De Tragadie) have rededicated their lives to Jesus Christ. The party they invited the guys to is actually an Ugly Sweater party at Camp Mandix, a Christian Camp ran by their mother, Mrs. Mandix (played by Felissa Rose as previously mentioned), a very amorous “hugger” and father, Counselor Mandix (Marv Blauvelt, Inhumane, Sculpture) who is gayer than Christmas in July yet won’t admit it. The Ugly Sweater party is to celebrate Susan and Samantha’s baptism. Of course, Jody doesn’t read any of this stuff on the invite, until they’re about five minutes from the party.

Cliff is freaking out that neither of them have ugly sweaters, when who should they happen upon but a disheveled drifter that is actually Detective Brolin. He’s holding the sweater that Declan Rains was wearing when he died. The ghost of Declan is following Cliff and Jody and tells Cliff to take the sweater. Cliff puts it on and immediately falls under its spell.

Thankfully, at the camp, there’s one person who actually isn’t secretly corrupt in some way. Her name is Hanna (Laura Jean, 2 Jennifer, Abaddon), and her parents put her in the camp because they think she’s a witch due to her psychic ability. The whole rest of the camp thinks so as well. Hanna has visions the whole day Christmas Eve, predicting some horrible events that are about to take place. No one believes her.

What ensues is an absolutely ridiculous combination of Meatballs, Sleepaway Camp, and every Troma movie ever. I’m seriously curious if Aaron ever worked at Troma himself, that’s how much Tromatic influence there is. All it’s missing is a Lloyd Kaufman cameo.

Some other parts I’d love to mention are the camp groundskeeper who is possessed by the devil through metal music, Ernie, played by Jody Barton (For Jennifer, Gangster Land) and Counselor Mandix’ favorite camper, Roberto, (Jared Delgado, Jolly Boy Friday, Fallen Cards) a beefy ex-con who murdered his wife. There’s also the metal band that Ernie is possessed by, Omicida who have three songs in the film.

Additionally, there are several weird original Christmas songs that play in the background throughout the film that are all hilarious. The film’s theme song, “Ugly Sweater Party” with lyrics by Aaron Mento and performed by Minnie/Bluntz is extremely catchy and will probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day you watched it, if not forever.

I really enjoyed UGLY SWEATER PARTY and I think it could become a fun tradition for the weirdos of the world to watch this every holiday season. I’m sure I’ll watch it again closer to the season, if not more than once.

UGLY SWEATER PARTY premieres exclusively on Amazon Instant Video starting November 23rd.

Sean Whalen as Declan Rains in UGLY SWEATER PARTY
Lorry Kikta
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