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October 13th, 2015


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10:37 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: Deathgasm
The best way to see Deathgasm is at midnight, surrounded by a theater of people who are experiencing various low levels of inebriation. And that's exactly how I saw Deathgasm--I went to Chicago on Saturday night to attend a live recording of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. After the show (which was a great time, thanks for asking) my friend Jim suggested that we check Chicago's Music Box Theater to see if anything good was playing. So, we saw Deathgasm, and I'm reviewing it late because Tuesday night is Movie Night with a different group of friends, and since I have a first-shift schedule, pre-writing a review is a lot easier than hoping that we choose a horror film so that I can bang something out quickly after I get home at 10:00 pm. Last week we went out to watch The Martian at the theater, and I managed my Cry of the Banshee review by watching it early in the morning before work. Such a viewing schedule is logistically feasible, but not much fun. Anyway, uh, The Martian is a worthy adaptation of the book, in case you were wondering.

Unfortunately, Deathgasm is just about the worst version of The Mysteries of Udolpho that I've ever seen, which would be a much more valid complaint if it was in any way an adaptation of The Mysteries of Udolpho. Deathgasm is from New Zealand and tells the story of Brodie, a disaffected, death metal-loving teenager whose mother has recently been declared unfit to raise a child. Consequently, Brodie is sent to live with his uncle's family, who are fundamentalist Christians. Brodie butts heads with the family in general, but in particular with his jock cousin David who bullies him at school. Brodie accidentally falls in with the roleplaying crowd at his new school and develops a crush on David's statuesque girlfriend Medina. Medina doesn't understand Brodie's interests, but she finds him weirdly attractive and begins to sympathize with him after seeing him badly mistreated by David.

One day at the local record store, Brodie encounters Zakk, a fellow outcast who shares similar tastes in heavy metal. Zakk, Brodie, and his roleplaying friends form a band called Deathgasm, and when Brodie encounters some ancient, satanic sheet music which promises power and fortune, well, he just has to get the band to play it. Unfortunately, the song opens the way for a demon called Aeloth, the Blind One. Aeloth takes his time in showing up, but in the meantime, the Dark Powers unleashed by the music infect the surrounding area, and Deathgasm effectively becomes a zombie movie. Well, technically the attackers aren't really zombies, but they're scary and carnivorous and they're wearing the same makeup as zombies do in any other movie.

While that summary is accurate and quickly covers the first two acts of the movie, it doesn't address Deathgasm's main selling point, which is that it's a comedy. This is a very funny movie, but it's a kind of funny that's really best when aimed at the aforementioned theater of people who are experiencing various low levels of inebriation. That's not to say that I didn't have a good time--it was great!--but this is kind of an embarrassing movie that I wouldn't want to show to my parents. Example: When Brodie learns that his adoptive parents have become zombies, his urgent need for a makeshift weapon coincides with his discovery of their sex toys. I'm positive that the scene you're imagining is the exactly what plays out onscreen.

Sooner or later, though, Aeloth shows up. In spite of his underwhelming Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style appearance, Brodie's Good Times are over.

The movie promises a manic energy that it can't quite sustain, but it makes a good try. Ultimately, I have to give Deathgasm a thumbs up (its writers would no doubt have chosen a different part of the anatomy), but it has the same problem that Buffy does: it is cleverly crafted by funny people out of components that I like, but they water it down by trying too hard to please too many audiences. There's nothing original about the horror element of this movie, but it has so much else going for it that I have to recommend it. The Internet tells me that this is the freshman outing for a significant number of the people involved in this movie, so we can probably expect great things from them in the future. Hopefully with fewer penises.

Here's the trailer:

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31 Days of Halloween: Deathgasm - Garmonbozia for the soul.

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