Many have tried to imitate the cinematic fine art that is The Evil Dead and few have been able to ape Sam Raimi‘s splatterhead mesterpiece with as much boundless, bloody guile as Peter Jackson. Yes, the blockbusting king of Middle Earth Peter Jackson. Though most know the frumpy Kiwi from his work on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Jackson actually began his career making low-budget, amateur horror flicks using friends and recycled cameras. The more you know.
With his semi-official debut Bad Taste, Jackson bred a minor cult following that ballooned after the release of Dead Alive, effectively giving birth to New Zealand’s wonderful tradition of government-funded gross-out horror movies. Following in PJ’s footsteps, visual effects artist-turned-director Jason Lei Howden presents Deathgasm – an insane, righteously comedic, super low-budg, heavy metal Kiwi gore fest.
Deathgasm‘s origins are inconspicuous enough, beginning as a one-line concept pitch barely complete with a few sample images, a goofy poster and the now well-known logline “Death is cumming”. As any discerning audience member will predict, a film bold enough to call itself Deathgasm and run “Death is cumming” beneath the title sets itself up for disaster and in nine times out of ten, that would likely be the result. Thankfully that’s not the case with Howden’s refreshingly silly, completely irreverent send up of the comedy horror genre, replete with Kiwi accents, Jugaloo face paint and enough blood and guts to fill a swimming pool.
The film begins when metal-head Brody’s (Milo Cawthorne) mom is thrown in the loony bin for prostituting herself out, a questionable decision as side effect of her new found meth addiction. Sent to live with his super square and quite Christian aunt, uncle and cousin, Brody must adapt to a new family and a new school …or die.
With cousin David (Nick Hoskins-Smith) breathing threats hot onto his tatted neck and teachers that find his long-haired, apocalypse-doodling ways reproachable, Brody befriends resident nerds Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell) before finally landing a cool as the other side of the pillow partner in metal in the form of Zakk (James Blake). The group form Deathgasm, a not-very-good heavy metal band. After filming a music videos in the woods in full makeup, David finds himself and Zakk at odds as both attempt to win the affection of David’s girlfriend Medina (Kimberley Crossman), a genre-defying character who just might be open to the metal lifestyle and becomes appropriately integral once the apocalypse strikes.
Seeking out long-gone heavy metal legend Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure), Deathgasm stumbles upon the Necronomicon of heavy tunes: the Black Hymn. As is the case with all cinematic grimoires, the group feels compelled to repeat the metally licks and devil-summoning riffs of the Black Hymn and end up mustering forth the scourge of the undead, with plans to unleash hell on earth.
All in earshot begin to vomit up their insides and turn into Satan-worshiping minions of doom. Joined by hot girl sidekick Medina and her quip-happy ax play (“He was axing for it”), Deathgasm arms themselves with souped-up guitars and vibrating sex toys to headbang and thrash their way to salvation. Ironically enough, the alleged devil worshipers become the town’s last hope as they are forced to stave off the growing legions of possessed minions to the tune of throbbing double bass and growling vocals, lest their world be smothered in actual darkness.
Deathgasm is a case where if the title makes you snicker, you’ll probably enjoy the film. On the flip side, if the name alone makes you run for the hills covering your tender, virginal ears, this is very much not the film for you. The gore is excessive and palpably cheap (more often than not, a decapitated head or severed limb will spurt out a single-stream of reddened corn syrup) but with game performances and an openly mocking tone, Deathgasm is a truly righteous amount of hardcore dumb. Landing somewhere between Heavy Metal 2000 and the original Evil Dead, Howden’s bloodletting send up is just the kind of silly, stupid horror party movie that people have been trying to replicate for decades.