Cinemetal Review + Exclusive Clip: Deathgasm Rules
Most movies about metal and metalheads fall short because they’re obviously researched, written, and directed by people from outside the genre peering in, who love the style and the passion but rarely understand what it is about the music that inspires its creators and fans to become so obsessed with it. The result is a lot of outdated slang, some poorly-placed band references, and an attempt to avoid the phrase “heavy metal.” Airheads, for example, is hilarious, but one gets the feeling it was rewritten to fit popular culture’s waning interest in metal proper around 1994 and subsequently over-relies on being about “rock and roll” and not going full metal.
Deathgasm goes full metal. Deathgasm is a film by metalheads for metalheads, without a care in the world for the current flavor of rock music. Unconcerned with ideas like “niche” and “narrow”, it explores metal and metal fandom in its many forms, from the ragingly awesome to the totally ridiculous. The result is arguably the most metal movie since This Is Spin̈al Tap, a raucous teenage roller coaster that will strike a powerful chord with everyone who grew up listening to metal, and will educate and tickle anyone who didn’t.
Our story is a familiar one: Brodie is a battle jacket-clad loser sent to live with his Christian uncle and bully cousin in the suburbs. There he meets Zakk, a no-fucks-given headbanger (and kind of a dick) who helps Brodie start a band and get up to no good. While breaking into the home of the Quorthon-esque metal god Rikki Daggers, they come upon a set of ancient sheet music and decide to play it in Brodie’s garage, unknowingly unleashing an army of demons who possess everyone in the neighborhood close enough to hear the song. Now, the two friends, along with Brodie’s ax-wielding love interest Medina, must hack and slash their way through the supernatural zombie horde in the hopes of saving the world, all to a soundtrack including Skull Fist, Axeslasher, 8 Foot Sativa, and Emperor.
You could call this story “Evil Dead II through metal-colored glasses,” and to a certain extent you’d be right. There’s plenty of Sam Raimi’s classic horror film here, from the deadite-like possessed townsfolk to the chainsaw fight that ensues against them. But where Evil Dead’s Ash was an unwitting sap thrust into a strange and gruesome situation, Brodie and Zakk are two dudes raised on Autopsy and Mayhem, unafraid of beating a monster to death with a double-ended dildo or crushing a demonic skull with a car engine. These guys aren’t a couple of everyday shmucks, they’re metalheads, and they’re ready to fight evil accordingly.
But it’s the examination of the protagonists’ pre-horror lives that makes you give a shit about them. Being a teenager sucks, but being a teenage metalhead amplifies both the best and worst parts of that horrid experience. Watching Brodie get beaten up by his cousin or try to explain his music to a girl he likes gives you the rare splatter movie opportunity of honestly caring whether the characters live or die. In that way, the movie skews a little young, but that only makes it resonate harder with your average hesher, who dove into their love of this music during their own notebook-scribbling power-hungry high school days. When Brodie puts on his headphones and imagines himself as a God of Thunder who can make tube tops vanish with lasers from his eyes, one can’t help but smile and remember their own adolescence. As a thirty-year-old, I found this movie beautifully nostalgic; if I were seventeen today and saw this, it would be my favorite film of all time.
Then again, “beautifully nostalgic” might be a little candy-coated for Deathgasm. The movie’s metal resonance also extends to its over-the-top horror moments, which are as over-the-top and ultra-violent as a Cannibal Corpse album sleeve. There’s too much to go into in this review, but here are a few highlights: a cruel high school teacher draws satanic symbols on the whiteboard before vomiting blood all over a student. A masked cultist gets a chainsaw shoved up his ass by a dude in corpsepaint. Zakk saves Brodie by smashing a bottle over his assailant’s head, but only after finishing the beer within. Between all that, there’s a nonstop barrage of gore, nudity (male and female), and repurposed power tools. In an age where every horror film ends with a bunch of shaky camera shots or a slowly-turning woman with a too-big mouth, watching a film so over-the-top and stylishly funny is refreshing beyond words. It’s as though director Jason Lei Howden was so used to the movies and music he loved not getting taken seriously that he made no attempt to pull punches in the name of Good Taste, and the result is a much-needed free-for-all.
That is Deathgasm‘s greatest weapon: overkill. Splatter, hilarity, emotion–the movie has it all in spades and then some. And in that way it’s metal as fuck, bigger and crazier than anything else of its kind. Does that make it a daring piece of artistic cinema? Maybe not, but who cares? The great metal movies know it’s as important to laugh and headbang along to a film as it is to watch it analytically. If you’re in the mood to have an in-depth conversation about cinematography and Fritz Lang, watch something else. Deathgasm is here for those defenders of the faith who want to have a drink or two, cackle their asses off, punch their fists in the air, and save the world from false metal.
Deathgasm hits select theaters and VOD this Friday, October 2nd. Find out where you can catch it here. In the meantime, here’s an exclusive clip of our fearless heroes deciding on their band name and shredding together for the first time.