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  Deathgasm The Devil Has All The Best Tunes
Year: 2015
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Stars: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, Delaney Tabron, Stephen Ure, Colin Moy, Jodie Rimmer, Nick Hoskins-Smith, Erroll Shand, Kate Elliott, Aaron MacGregor, Andrew Laing, Tim Foley, Cameron Rhodes
Genre: Horror, Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is a teenage metalhead in Auckland who after his mother was checked into a mental hospital has been forced to go and live with his aunt and uncle, who are conservative, Christian and deeply disapproving of his choice of lifestyle. His cousin turns out to be one of the school bullies who make the nerds' lives a misery, but as two nerds, Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell), are all the friendship he can muster right now even if he's not interested in their Dungeons & Dragons game, they will have to do. What he would prefer is to get to know Medina (Kimberley Crossman) but she is way out of his league, though on browsing in the sole decent record store around, he does meet fellow metal fan Zakk (James Blake)...

Zakk seems a bit more worldly and Brodie hopes he will introduce him to something a bit more exciting than doodling through maths lessons, which he proceeds to do, tracking down a retired metal singer who had a reputation of going too far. Could breaking into his house and seeing what was there endear them to him? Well, probably not, but they do come away with that cliché of heavy metal cinema, which was the music that will summon if not the Devil himself, then at least some of his minions, in this case written on scraps of paper. Unlike something like Trick or Treat or The Gate, however, Deathgasm (the name the boys settle on for their band) was more concerned with making the audience laugh.

One aspect of metal that explains its appeal is that it can simultaneously take itself incredibly seriously while perfectly willing to have a good laugh, and that was encapsulated in the tone of this film. Writer and director Jason Lei Howden was an avowed fan of the scene and its music, having sought out and handpicked the soundtrack himself, and there was a definite tone of a real aficionado seizing the opportunity to indulge himself by making the sort of movie he would have loved to have seen at a tender age. This meant lots of gore, a dash of sexual content, and lots of crude humour that unlike some in that vein had a degree of imagination behind its conception.

With his willing cast Howden crafted a spoofy but affectionate (if you can be affectionate about some of this stuff) effort that may have fallen back in the old conventions of the zombie apocalypse, okay, the citizens of suburbia were possessed, but the effect was much the same, yet it was presented with a refreshing hands-on quality that eschewed too much CGI for a more tactile run of makeup and effects with lots of good old latex rubber to the fore, and that was just the dildos. Once Deathgasm have played the twenty-first century equivalent of the Devil's Chord, it summons a variety of nastiness including a Satanic cult which is only too pleased to live in a world where demons are running rife, but the real nastiness is plain to see: getting off with your supposed best friend’s girlfriend.

For some reason, the script would have the characters, no matter who they were, need to pause and think about their behaviour, be they the cultists who, for instance, botch a beheading by getting blood all over their boss's priceless rug, or more importantly when Zakk, who likes to think of himself as his own man and beholden to nobody, tricks Medina into being more interested in him than she was in Brodie, who we can tell is who she actually should be with. Some found these admonishments of screenwriter to his characters a mixed bag, but they added a texture and curious sincerity to a work that could have been scene after scene of mindless bloodshed and swearing, so all credit to Howden and his team for trying something more valid. All that said, there remained a wealth of off colour gags, most of which hit their mark, and if there were always going to be quibbles about what represented "real" metal, thankfully there was little of that to be seen here, they just got on with the entertainment.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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