Another late night, another party for this group of young friends; some would call them beatniks, but whatever you call them they don't feel like fitting into polite society any time soon. One of their number is newcomer Melina (Louise Sorel), who arrived in London from America leaving a fiancé behind her who is understandably wondering what has happened to the woman he intends to marry. She has caught the eye of the group's unofficial leader, Moise (Oliver Reed), but will not go all the way with him which leads to resentment - but resentment is what life with these people is all about...
The Party's Over was slightly notorious in its day for being disowned by its studio thanks to what was described as a necrophilia theme, though watching it now it is difficult to see what the fuss was about as it amounts to a kiss, no sexual contact, and the man doing the kissing is unaware that his chosen partner is dead anyway, so this was hardly a Nekromantik for the Swinging Sixties. For most of the running time, if not all of it, this is a mope through an underworld of counterculture which rarely strays into anywhere genuinely confrontational, preferring to sadly shake its head at this latest Lost Generation it is regarding.
In fact, it's a peculiarly mirthless journey to take, with even the party sequences trumpeted by the title shot through with dejection; take the opening, where the partygoers are so preoccupied that they fail to notice one of their fellow funseekers is hanging off the balcony, and when Moise does twig he starts decadently pouring his booze over the hapless hanger-on. Melina tells him to shape up, which indicates that she might have been an improving influence on this bunch if she had not "disappeared", or at least nobody in her clique is willing to let on to fiancé Carson (Clifford David) when he shows up and starts asking questions. Naturally, when he does get some answers he doesn't like what he hears.
There's so much malaise in the film that it begins to feel as if it's trying to drag you down with it into the depths of its characters' despair, a mood that they barely acknowledge until double tragedy shocks them out of their overwhelming complacency. The more Carson delves into this shady world, the further he is pulled into it, though he does find solace with Nina (Katherine Woodville), a friend of Melina's who initially puts him on the wrong track and tells him that she is dead. After apologising later when Carson finds out this isn't true, they start to get close, but the pressure to really discover what has happened increases, and the film furnishes us with flashbacks to fill in the whole sorry tale.
Cutting a swathe through this as far as acting went was Oliver Reed, saddled with the none-too attractive role of the pseudo-wisdom spouting menace who finds that he hasn't enough pithy words to react to the events that have recently happened and disturbed his social circle to the core. Reed is given some truly pretentious lines, but manages to make something worthwhile out of them, or that's the way they sound until you analyse what he has just said and realise that it's the actor's delivery which is providing all the necessary charge. In effect, The Party's Over thinks it has more important things on its mind than hedonism, and does its best to turn a tawdry storyline into a state of the world's youth critique, but you're unlikely to be convinced and more probably will be left as alienated from the film as the characters are from the rest of their community. Music by John Barry.