Heavy metal and horror go together like pizza and booze: heavy metal songs have been inspired by horror movies, horror movies feature heavy metal soundtracks, heavy metal albums feature horror-inspired imagery on album covers, heavy metal features as a plot device in certain horror movies – the list goes on and on and on. Obviously, writer/director Jason Lei Howden has a love for both and blends this love together in his first feature-length film, Deathgasm.
Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is a metalhead and an outcast. After his mother dies, he is sent to live with his aunt, uncle, and his cousin David – all of whom are hardcore Jesus freaks and don’t approve of Brodie’s love of the Devil’s tunes. Brodie meets Zakk (James Blake), a fellow metalhead, in a record shop and they become fast friends and decide to form a band called DETHGASM (because “lowercase is for pussies”). One day, Zakk and Brodie break into the house of Rikki Daggers, a reclusive musician; there, they steal an album of Rikki’s band, Haxan Sword, in which they find sheet music entitled “The Black Hymn.” They play the tune – which summons Aeloth the Blind One, an evil entity “who threatens to tear apart existence itself.” Soon, nearly everyone in their town is possessed and out to kill Brodie and Co. Not only that, but a crazy cult has arrived in town to get Aeloth to possess one of their own. Will Brodie and Co. be able to stop the demons and the cult before Aeloth arrives and plays some death metal with the world?
Honestly, going into Deathgasm I didn’t expect much. The trailer looked good but I figured the whole affair would fall flat: a mild laugh or two would be had, maybe I’d see a nice blood splatter or two, and that was it. But I was surprised to find the film is pretty enjoyable.
One of the major pluses of Deathgasm is that the characters are well fleshed out and I actually found myself caring about what happened to them, especially Brodie. Cawthorne gets right into the role and gives it his all, and is the perfect embodiment of the metalhead outcast. Watching his cousin and his cousin’s friend bully him filled me with rage; watching him crush on/interact with Medina (Kimberley Crossman) made me hope he gets her in the end; watching him battle demons had me cheering him on. The rest of the cast is in top form as well with not one performance feeling phoned in.
But we aren’t here for Oscar-winning performances: we wanna see the splatter in all its glory! Thankfully, Howden takes a page from fellow New Zealander Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (as well as The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2) and delivers the goods – most of which, I might add, are practical. Sure, there’s a little bit of CGI here and there, but there’s plenty of genuine red stuff flying about to keep the gorehounds and purists happy.
I should also add that Howden’s script doesn’t skimp on the humor either. While I’m not gonna claim this is the funniest horror comedy I’ve ever seen, there were plenty of laughs to keep me howling. One scene in particular that stood out from the rest involved Brodie and Zakk fighting demons with – are you ready? – anal beads, a double-ended dildo and vibrators. I’m not making this up.
And for those metalheads who have a sense of humor about themselves and their precious music, the film even pokes a little bit of fun at certain metal tropes. A personal favorite is when the members of DEATHGASM dawn corpse paint and record a music video in the woods complete with corny poses and peeking out from behind trees – like pretty much every black metal music video ever made. Classic! Or how about when, on two separate occasions, Brodie and Medina listen to some metal and imagine themselves on a mountaintop dressed in Viking gear that looks to have been lifted from a terribly cheesy 80s flick. Priceless!
Plus, you get a pretty good metal soundtrack, especially the bangin’ track “Bad for Good” by Skull Fist. That alone is worth the purchase price.
Deathgasm is certain to satisfy metalheads and/or horror fans everywhere. You just can’t go wrong with it. So grab your buds, a six pack and your guitar, and prepare to laugh and headbang to the hilarious gorror. And, whatever you do, don’t play the Black Hymn…