DEATHGASM

PrintE-mail Written by J. R. Southall

Hailing from New Zealand, Deathgasm takes its sensibility from the likes of Bad Taste but much of its story from Shaun of the Dead, with a whiff of This is Spinal Tap thrown in for good measure. It’s a likeable, riotous, fast moving black comedy/horror, with enough inventiveness and congeniality to engage from start to finish.

When his mother is institutionalised, guitar playing metalhead Brodie (the charmingly pencil-faced Cawthorne) is sent to live with his knuckle-brained cousin David and his Bible bashing parents, but it’s not long before Brodie forms a band (the eponymous Deathgasm) with dissolute bassist Zakk (a roguish Blake), and falls for cousin David’s bombshell girlfriend Medina (the wholesome, golden-haired Crossman). When Zakk leads Brodie unwittingly into breaking into the home of reclusive old rocker Rikki Daggers (a ragged Ure), Daggers presses upon them to take the sheet music for a demon-summoning composition before a devil-worshipping cult – who arrive hot on the two teens’ heels – can get their hands on it. Daggers is murdered, but before the members of the cult can catch up with Brodie and Zakk, Deathgasm have given the tune a trial and the townspeople start getting possessed.

And that’s just the first twenty minutes or so. The rest of the film is an hilariously bloodthirsty romp as the winsomely unassuming Brodie and bad boy Zakk find their friendship tested to the limit, while fighting their way through the zombified possessed in an attempt to stop the demon before it can fully materialise – and see if Brodie can get the girl. The whole thing is shot through with a good natured brutality of the kind you only get in Antipodean cinema, as writer and director Jason Lei Howden finds as many and varied ways for his cast to off the zombified possessed as possible – including a justifiably infamous scene involving an assortment of sex toys.

This is wilfully cheap and nasty stuff – and joyously, knowingly so – and your enjoyment will depend in parts upon your enthusiasm for heavy metal, your willingness to suspend your disbelief for a multitude of unlikely deaths, your desire to see the nerds win out, and the ability of the young cast to carry all of this off. Fortunately the central trio are as charismatic as you might wish, and make suspending your sense of the ridiculous an easy task. Howden’s cartoonish direction betrays his influence as being as much the Cornetto Trilogy and Matthew Vaughn’s caricatured action flicks as it is the likes of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, and although short on budget, Deathgasm is assured and accomplished enough not to be completely outclassed in that company. A low-rent but unexpectedly entertaining blast.

DEATHGASM / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JASON LEI HOWDEN / STARRING: MILO CAWTHORNE, KIMBERLEY CROSSMAN, JAMES BLAKE, DELANEY TABRON, STEPHEN URE / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 29TH

 
 


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