Thursday, December 8, 2016

Now on Amazon Prime: Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2016)

Glory Daze movie poster
Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2016) - Directed by Ramon Fernandez

By Kenny Howell

Club kid promoter turned murderer Michael Alig gets a by the numbers, but solid documentary treatment.

Alig was an outsider kid from South Bend, Ind. who came to New York City to get some kind of excitement in his life. He felt completely out of place in his hometown and was enthralled by the art and club scene in New York City.

When he got there, he slipped into the over the top party scene and soaked it all up. As that scene started to die down, he became a promoter himself, organizing parties for a bunch of kids, many underage, who would wear bizarre costumes, and party it up.

However, as you would expect, things got out of control. Drug dealers got wind of the big parties, and would start lining the corridors at the parties to sell to the kids. It was a bit of everything from ecstasy and cocaine, to hardcore stuff like heroin and crystal meth.

Alig had never been into drugs, he would in fact pretend to be on them in the early days, but he got deep into it as the party scene took off. He got hooked on just about everything, and it made him a bit crazy out of his mind. Unfortunately, an argument with another club kid named Angel ended up in Alig murdering him. If that wasn't enough, Alig and his friend decided keep the body in their place for a few days, hoping the problem would go away more than anything, before finally dismembering the body and dumping it into the river.

Despite the horrific crime, Alig only spent 17 years in prison, five of those in solitary confinement. He was released in 2014.

Director Ramon Fernandez gives Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig a pretty a straight forward approach, as most of the film is told in talking head interviews with other club kids and club promoters during the era. The first half of the film goes at a breakneck pace and can be a bit much. I am sure Fernandez was trying to capture the excitement of the time for the kids, but it can be a bit exhausting with the scene already being that on its own. He lets it breathe a bit when the story moves to the crime and the aftermath, and it probably would have worked better if the entire film kept that pace. What really makes it work is having Alig on screen and back out in the world. There was a question whether Alig was a sociopath or was it the drugs that made him lose his mind. The film doesn't answer that, but it does a pretty thorough examination of his psyche.

Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***

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