"A shamelessly bold and bloody metal-inspired zom-rom-com.”
Heavy metal awakens a demonic force in Deathgasm, the feature debut of director-screenwriter Jason Lei Howden. In this New Zealand zom-com, an awkward new guy in town channels his inner metal energy to stop the rampage of an inexplicable evil.
After seeing his mom packed away to a mental institution, Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) has no other choice but to move into the house of his nearest relatives in Greypoint. Living with his conservative evangelical Christians Uncle Albert (Colin Moy) and Aunt Mary (Jodie Rimmer) is a big struggle for Brodie especially that he is a fan of heavy metal and anything associated with the music. But he is not giving in, not even to bullies like his cousin David (Nick Hoskins-Smith). After starting a tentative friendship with social misfits Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell), Brodie finally found his soulmate in Zakk (James Blake), a cool but self-absorbed metal fanatic like him. Along with Dion and Giles, they create a band called DEATHGASM (all caps or else). To top everything, Brodie falls hard for the lovely hot chick Medina (Kimberley Crossman) who is unfortunately dating his cousin.
When Brodie and Zakk break into an abandoned home, they found Haxensword frontman Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure) hiding inside. Before Daggers is killed by a minion from the evil Vadin (Tim Foley), the duo manage to pilfer some of his well-guarded goodies. Part of their theft are notes of the “black hymn” and when their band play the song, people in earshot start puking blood and pop their eyes out, turning into malevolent undead flesh-eaters and running amok all over town. Soon, Vadin his emissaries come to town to summon the ultimate devil.
Deathgasm is a shameless marriage of heavy metal and gore-horror. It is a clever comedic material that will delight both metal heads and grind house fanatics. It has overabundance of slapstick gags with immense energy and impressive special effects to back them up. It is in fact orgiastic as savage violence and wild comedy are tireless and paced incredibly fast. Gore-fest is endless as townspeople, after vomiting geysers of blood, are scrappily hacked, stabbed, sliced, gouged, beheaded and ripped. Some are even bludgeoned with dildos and sex toys of different varieties, while others, much to the amusement of the executioners, are decapitated a second time as ordered by the leading bad guy. These are mostly achieved through practical effects and thus, the sprays of blood and visceral displays are nauseatingly realistic. There are brief animations and metal-related graphics, specifically in highlighting the enemy’s badge, which give extra ump. The few digital effects are quite unsuccessful and only emphasize the movie’s low budget.
The film’s narrative is predictable and formulaic but certain lessons on family and friendship can be learned from here. It also speaks of individuality, encouraging everyone, not metal heads only, to be who they want to be in spite of societal norms and expectations. Metal is portrayed in the movie as the devil’s means of conquering the world; yet, it also clearly explains how the music has been beneficial for someone like Brodie.
After a long while, the film becomes repetitive and numbing as people are heartlessly massacred, which is typical of features in the genre. Humor sometimes fall flat and dialogues become bad-tasting, especially when such lines are insensitively thrown at families and loved ones who has just been slaughtered. Scenes also tend to cut clumsily from one to another, as if cuing for a commercial break.
Acting is passable. Cawthorne is natural as the loner Brodie who rises up to be a hero in the right occasion. Crossman is surprisingly efficient as she transforms from being simply a boner material to a head-splitting femme fatale.
Deathgasm effectively combines metal and gore in a dauntless comedy. But it is not a movie for everyone as its gore extravaganza requires strong guts. Since it teaches the principles of individuality and being carefree with who we want to be, well, it can be expected that it does not give shit of what we think about it.
Production companies: New Zealand Film Commission, MPI Pictures, Timpson Films
Cast: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, Stephen Ure, Jodie Rimmer, Colin Moy, Nick Hoskins-Smith, Aaron McGregor, Andrew Liang, Tim Foley, Delaney Tabron, Cameron Rhodes, Erroll Shand, Kate Elliott, Campbell Rouselle
Directors-screenwriter: Jason Lei Howden
Producers: Andrew Beattie, Morgan Leigh Stewart, Sarah Wensley, Todd Wieneke
Executive producers: Ant Timpson, Greg Newman, Badie Ali, Hamza Ali
Director of photography: Simon Raby
Production designer/costume designer: Jane Bucknell
Editors: Jeff Hurrell, Gareth Van Niekerk
Music: Dead Pirate