This Is Horror head of film and television Jason Hicks continues to review his personal top five films shown at Film Four Frightfest 2015. In at number two is gore-soaked New Zealand heavy metal comedy-horror Deathgasm.
“The sight of a large rubber dildo being smashed into the face of one of the demonically possessed is certainly one that will not leave you for some time after seeing it”
It has been a long, long time since there has been a heavy metal themed horror film that is even half decent, let alone one that is actually good. Indeed, the last one of any note at all was arguably in 1986 with the release of Trick Or Treat. Thank the metal gods then for New Zealand heavy metal comedy splat-fest Deathgasm!
Orphaned metal-head Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) lives with his religious aunt and uncle. Bullied by his cousin, Brodie’s only respite from his mundane life are his two geeky dungeons and dragons playing friends Dion and Giles, and the time he gets to spend at a local hippy run record store.
One day in the record store, Brodie meets a kindred spirit in the shape of fellow metal-head outcast Zakk (James Blake). Bonding over the music they love, the pair forms a band along with Dion and Giles, and Deathgasm, as they decide to name themselves, is born. Hidden away in the garage at Brodie’s aunt and uncles, the band jam out the heavy-riffs, until one day they decide to play a piece of ancient sheet music that they have acquired called the Black Hymn – and in doing so they inadvertently trigger a demonic plague that begins to infest the towns-people. Can Deathgasm save the day? And can they do so before a local demonic cult succeeds in helping to create hell on earth?
Very much oozing from the same vein as fellow Kiwi Peter Jackson’s superb 1992 splatter comedy Braindead, Deathgasm is as just as filled with witty one-liners, irreverent moments and straight-down-the-line gross-out comedy, as it is awash with over-the-top blood and guts.
Skulls are cracked open and guts ripped from bodies amidst showers of gore as the group, joined by Brodie’s preppy would-be girlfriend Medina (Kimberley Crossman), battle their way through the increasingly possessed towns-folk in various inventive ways. Heads are re-decapitated, and in one hilariously jaw-dropping slow motion scene Brodie and Zakk go into battle wielding various sex-aids as weapons – the sight of a large rubber dildo being smashed into the face of one of the demonically possessed is certainly one that will not leave you for some time after seeing it.
As brilliantly crass as these moments are, a much more subtle layer of humour can also be found here among the flying limbs, particularly in the interactions between Brodie and Medina. Indeed, there is warmth at the heart of Deathgasm that runs throughout the entire film, particularly showing itself in the moments where the pair awkwardly tries to get with each other, or in scenes where Brodie explains why heavy metal music is so important to him, and others like him.
Writer/director Jason Lei Howden is a metal-head himself, and his love for, and indeed knowledge about heavy music is writ large throughout every inch of this film – and in the end it is perhaps this authenticity, alongside the central warmth that runs beneath all of the outlandish humour and gore, that makes Deathgasm work so well.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman
Release date (UK): TBC. (US) 2 October 2015.
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