03rd Sep2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘Deathgasm’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell | Written and Directed by Jason Lei Howden

deathg-lady

Deathgasm. That name conjures up a myriad of things in your mind. A myriad of things that Deathgasm probably contains in its short, but packed, 90 minutes running time. From death by dildo, decapitations, eviscerations, disembowelment, dismemberment and more. And metal. Lots and lots of heavy metal. Old-school metal, death metal, black metal; but definitely NOT any hair metal!

The movie tells the story of Brodie, a metal-loving kid sent to live with his bible-bashing relatives who is an outcast at home AND at school. When he meets a kindred spirit in Zakk at the local record shop, they decide – along with Brodie only two schoolfriends – to start their own band, the titular Deathgasm (they rejected the name Intestinal Bungee Jump). Soon the duo’s resentment of the suburban wasteland leads them to sheet music said to grant the Ultimate Power to whoever plays it. But the music also summons the ancient evil entity Aeloth The Blind One who threatens to tear apart existence itself. With their classmates and family inhabited by demonic forces that turns them into psycho killers, can the wicked force be stopped devouring all mankind?

As you may have gathered from the above [sarcasm implied], Deathgasm is a heavy-metal horror – the heaviest – in the vein of classic of the genre like Trick or Treat (of which this bears the closest resemblance), Black Roses and Shock ‘em Dead; and NOT in the vein of anything Jon-Mikl Thor made during his reign as king of the metal movie – in other words not Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare... To quote Spinal Tap, this is a movie that turns it up to eleven – and then some. From the in-your-face opening credits to the films close, Deathgasm is a loud, crazy, thrill-ride of a movie that blends shocks and laughs in the best tradition of fellow New Zealand fear flicks such as Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead.

Coming from the mind of visual effects artist Jason Lei Howden, it should be no surprise that, visually, Deathgasm is a feast for your eyes (and ears, thanks to the fab metal soundtrack – roll on the album release I say). Not only are there copious amounts of gory special effects but the film also features some insane animation, some hilarious fantasy sequences that look like they’ve stepped out of old-school metal album covers and stuntwork that is as mind-blowingly mental as the rest of the movie – dual-wielded chainsaws whilst leaping through the air anyone?

Yet for all the insanity, at the heart of Deathgasm is a sweet tale of an outsider trying to find himself. As a character Brodie is like a young Bill and/or Ted, a guy who lives for heavy metal music and tries to be as “metal” as he believes he should, yet in reality he’s just a lonely guy who is trying his hardest to fit in somewhere. Which is why his burgeoning relationship with Medina works so well. His insecurity coupled with her somewhat awkward yet welcoming nature means that the pair are ideally matched. Even moreso when it turns out Medina is actually a bad-ass monster slayer, wielding an axe like a pro and being stronger, both emotionally and physically, than the boys in this movie. She’s yet another example of a strong woman in horror – a theme which seems to be running through a lot of this years Frightfest flicks!

The very definition of a beer-and-pizza movie (which is NOT a bad thing, trust me), the fun factor of Deathgasm is as infectious as the demonic forces whih take over the town Brodie lives in. On the surface the film is a manic, non-stop mix of the laughs and gore, yet at its heart lies a cast of characters who prove that you don’t have to fit in to societies norms to find friends… Or save the world.

***** 5/5

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