DirectorJason Lei Howden
Release Date(s)2015 (January 5, 2016)
Studio(s)Dark Sky Films
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: C
Deathgasm made a big splash in the horror scene in 2015 when it started playing horror festivals across the world. Hailing from New Zealand, the horror comedy tells the story of Brodie, a head-banging teenager whom, after his mother is institutionalized, goes to live with his bible-thumping uncle’s family. Once there, he discovers a group of local misfits including two die-rolling nerds and a fellow headbanger, and the four form a heavy metal band called Deathgasm. Everything seems to be coming together for Brodie and his new friends, but when they discover a set of forbidden music notes, they accidentally summon demons straight out of Hell, and chaos ensues.
Deathgasm can be summed up in one simple way: take Shaun of the Dead, mix it with Dead Alive (aka Braindead), and throw in Demons. It has the structure of Shaun, almost to the letter, but it’s also chock full of extreme visceral gore gushing out of every crevice in a splattering, over-the-top kind of way. It’s also full of a lot of sight gags, cheap laughs, and occasionally nudity. Yet, even with all of this edge, it still manages to work in some decent characters that you like and others than you definitely don’t like.
To be completely honest though, the first half of the movie really had me, and when shit started hitting the fan with all of the gore and mayhem, I was still on board. It wasn’t until the subplot and the eventual outcome of the movie got underway that I was starting to feel a little underwhelmed. Without getting into spoilers, much of the great character stuff that was set up early on never fully pays off in a satisfying way. I also felt that there seemed to be scenes missing as there are references to things that don’t really happen onscreen and moments that feel like they were paid off but never set up properly. They’re not enormous issues, and they don’t cause any real plot holes, but the movie definitely felt a little too tightly edited to me. But that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate it as a whole. Despite its shortcomings, it’s still nice to have some enjoyable new horror comedies coming along. Between this and What We Do in the Shadows, New Zealand filmmakers seems to have this section of the genre pretty much covered.
Deathgasm is sure to please gore hounds and metal heads the world over, that’s for certain. To be fair, you don’t have to be a fan of heavy metal to get into the movie, as it’s tongue-in-cheek enough most of the time anyway, so it’s not necessary. You just have to love horror movies, and that’s all you’re really required to bring to the table. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s clever enough and put together with more care and attention than many of its modern counterparts that it’s worth checking out.
The Blu-ray transfer for Deathgasm is a solid one. The visuals of the movie are all over the map, and shot with a variety of different cameras. As such, there isn’t solidarity to the look of the movie, but it is uniformed within its own chaotic logic and style. Digitally-sourced shots soak in a lot of fine detail with some terrific depth. The color palette is rich and numerous, but slightly muted. Blacks are inky deep with some terrific shadow detail on display, and both contrast and brightness levels are perfect. There are no digital enhancement anomalies leftover either. There are also lots of good animated interstitials thrown in for good measure. For the audio, you get two choices: English 5.1 DTS-HD and English 2.0 LPCM. The 2.0 track is good, but the 5.1 track will really give your system a workout. It’s a thumping and bass-heavy presentation with lots of surround activity throughout most of the movie. Dialogue is clean and clear, although the New Zealand accent is a little indiscernible from a certain character with a demonic voice later in the film (perhaps that’s just me though). Sound effects have a lot of impact, as well as some squishiness when it comes to the gore. As for the music, forget it. It completely rocks your sound system and is very clean and clear. LFE definitely has a part to play too, and will rattle your doors and windows if you have it cranked. It’s a solid audio presentation, all around. There are also subtitles in English SDH for those who might need them.
For the extras, they’re brief but worth looking into. There’s an audio commentary with writer/director Jason Lei Howden; three short featurettes (Brotherhood of Steel: The Cast of Deathgasm, Demon Seed: An Interview with Jason Lei Howden, and Gorgasm: The FX of Deathgasm); a music video for “Deathgasm” by Bulletbelt; the original theatrical trailer; the teaser trailer; and four other trailers for We Are Still Here, Mexico Barbaro, Applesauce, and One-Eyed Girl that open the disc.
Deathgasm certainly has fun in mind, and fun is what I had. I hear a sequel has been written, and I’m looking forward to it. The movie is over-the-top, heavy metal mayhem all the way through with some nice characterization. If you’re into movies with lots of gore but with a little more to them, Deathgasm is definitely worth your time.
- Tim Salmons