Rarely ever has a film’s title been put to better use.
DEATHGASM (because lower case is for wusses) is a New Zealand comedy-horror flick where new kid in town/metal-head Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) forms a band (DEATHGASM) with friends from class and black metal junkie Zakk (James Blake). They uncover a hymn from a dilapidated house which turns everyone around them into zombie-like creatures, because.
DEATHGASM was made on an incredibly low budget of “just over a couple of hundred thousand.” During a cast and crew Q&A following a Sydney Film Festival screening, an audience member shouted, “It looks like a million bucks!” DEATHGASM producer Ant Timpson promptly responded, “It wasn’t.”
“The New Zealand Film Commission funded half the film,” explained Timpson. “It’s great seeing taxpayer money put to good use, we’re very grateful for it.”
An unbridled delight, DEATHGASM has all the horror-shlock comedy and occasional frights you’d expect from a film of its unusual description, as well as a hilariously awkward early scene between Brodie and later love-interest/undead-slayer Medina (Kimberley Crossman). Finally answering the question of whether demons observe daylight savings, DEATHGASM’s death scenes feature numerous decapitations by lawn mowers, car engines and household appliances, cleverly capitalizing on a low-budget to deliver buckets of gratuitous gore. Director Jason Lei Howden commented on his creative process during the Q&A:
“You look at a lot of hardware catalogues, you go into a stationery shop, go around the kitchen, I don’t know if that’s a normal thing to do (pause) I don’t know where the dildos came from.”
Howden went on to say of the genre: “There hasn’t been a lot of metal horror films, it was so great to make one.”
There haven’t, and DEATHGASM taps into this very distinct sub-genre much better than most entries, trumping the similarly themed Stage Fright which screened at last year’s Festival. Frequently funny and best enjoyed in a crowd, DEATHGASM is a hugely competent achievement in low-budget horror enlivened by a diverse and eclectic metal soundtrack.