It's December the 31st and Johnny (Karl Howman) and his friend Toby (Daniel Peacock) are careering around town in their souped up Ford Cortina when they notice Bobby (Clive Mantle), a biker acquaintance of theirs, roaring up behind them. He has an inquiry to make, and that's if there really is a party going on at the home of Larry (Perry Fenwick) seeing as how his parents are away at the annual vicarage dance that evening. Johnny, in the driver's seat, answers above the noise of their engines that there is indeed, but whether Bobby will be allowed in is another matter entirely...
It must have been dispiriting to the British film industry in the eighties to see nothing but the prestige productions gathering in the big money, and then after a while not even those. Especially if you were endeavouring to forge a career in the lower budget end of the spectrum, as where your American counterparts could simply churn out a teen sex comedy or a slasher movie and be pretty much assured that you could make a profit, if you tried to do the same in Blighty you'd find that most of the audience were interested in product from across the Pond and they could see straight through your attempts to cash in.
Thus Terry Winsor's Party Party received a pretty terrible reception back in 1983, not least from the critics who could not see how any of it could possibly be funny considering it was ostensibly a comedy, and there was a swathe of the potential cinemagoing audience who would only agree. But of such material are cult movies made, and now, decades after the fact there are a number of people who can look back on this film and think, do you know? That actually wasn't so bad, especially in light of its nostalgia factor, the rocking tunes on the soundtrack, and a sympathy for the underdog which tapped into a peculiarly British approach to what the Americans might have rendered in brash primary colours.
It was based on Winsor's student film, and he teamed up with Peacock, a writer as well as a performer (here playing the butt of many jokes), to expand the script and create a cheap but cheerful youth flick where the characters' humiliation may have been a given, but it was only to ensure they both learned a little modesty and humility, and then to make their eventual triumphs all the sweeter. This was also one of that rare breed, a party film which takes place on New Year's Eve, something many have experience of if not perhaps much affection for - when The Poseidon Adventure was the most famous and successful of those, you could see where viewers' hearts lay in regard to that particular holiday celebration.
This example also had an attraction to fans of British television, for the screen was fairly packed with actors who were about to make it big there, whether on sitcoms, soaps or drama: every frame has a recognisable face from the history of the nation's broadcasting hoving into view. Howman, playing the Jack the Lad, was about to do Brush Strokes, for Fenwick umpteen episodes of Eastenders beckoned, Caroline Quentin, the plain girl who longs for the attention Kim Thomson gets, had Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek to look forward to, Mantle would be a fixture on hospital soap Casualty, Gary Olsen as the completely plastered off duty copper was much appreciated on 2.4 Children before his untimely death, and so it went on. The plot was a collection of sketches at best, but the cast had a way with the dialogue to draw laughs from it even if the mood, this being British, tended towards the miserabilist until the inevitable cheer of "Happy New Year!" made everything all right again. From the country which brought you Shakespeare: a few decent laughs were nothing to sneeze at.