By Octavio Karbank
I haven’t seen many splatter movies, i.e. overly gory horror films, but I decided to make an exception for the horror/black comedy, Deathgasm. Hailing from New Zealand, the combination of sitting alongside a heavy metal crowd, eating gratuitous amounts of candy, and watching the movie at the witching hour (when it was probably meant to be viewed), made for a rather…unique experience. That is to say I went in with zero expectations and left the theater feeling both enlightened and befuddled. My mind slowing pieced together what’d I’d seen as I wondered why anyone would go and see a splatter movie that wasn’t a comedy in some capacity.
The only way, at least in my opinion, these sorts of midnight flicks work, is if they don’t take themselves seriously. Thankfully, director/screenwriter Jason Lei Howden’s Deathgasm included all the blood and guts people expected to see, but also balanced out the gore with much-needed, and perfectly executed, hilarity.
Let me be clear, I’m not a big horror guy. In that, Deathgasm was perfect, since contrary to some belief, it wasn’t horrifying. Rather, despite all the geysers of blood that explode from nearly every bodily appendage, the movie pokes fun at the “terror” itself. When two teenage metalheads, played by Milo Cawthorne and James Blake, accidentally unleash a demonic portal on their small town, forcing them and their motley crew of friends to do battle, the results are completely bombastic and enthusiastically over the top. Imagine if you combined a slightly milder Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Evil Dead (I suppose the Fede Alvarez version will work for this example) to get some semblance of understanding about the lunacy that transpires throughout the film’s bamboozling eighty-six minutes.
With cliché thrown on cliché in a massive cliché pile, everything and everyone, bullies, demons, monsters, and even demonic bullies included, get taken pretty much at face value. The movie is hugely self-aware and so are our protagonists, adjusting to the chaos rather well, and much better than any normal person ever would. Amidst donning makeup befitting those who love heavy metal and engaging in montage sequences to prepare for battle, they use literally anything they can get their hands on for weapons. From chainsaws and those clunky toy Hulk gloves to dildos and the power of hardcore metal music, Deathgasm takes everything you know about all those late-night horror movies and slams you in the face with a complete reversal. Simply put, it demands your attention. Trust me, you won’t be bored.
Deathgasm’s success comes from its complete refusal to try and be anything but what it is. Howden doesn’t attempt to incorporate any sense of sincere horror, but instead allows the story to run amok; you feel like you’ve been transported to Willy Wonka’s institution for everything bloody and cracked. Ridiculously fun, but also not for the faint of heart, and not the sort of movie you take your mother to, unless your mother has an amazing sense of humor and capacity to sit through an hour and a half bloodbath, you cannot prepare yourself for Deathgasm. No matter what you read here, words simply don’t do the movie justice. I’d go so far as to say Howden offers an experience unlike anything you’ve seen before. Whether this is for the better or worse, I leave to you to decide.
Currently being featured on the film festival circuit, it might take a little time to see Deathgasm in theaters, but when it does, be sure to get in quick. This is the type of movie that not only has a niche audience, but also doesn’t last too long in movie houses. If late-night black comedy/splatter flicks are your cup of tea, then you’ll want to check it out.
Octavio Karbank is a writer and bona fide Whovian. Living in Massachusetts, you can find him on Twitter @TymeHunter and his blog www.cozmicventures.com