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Deathgasm Review [SXSW 2015]

Deathgasm is the ultimate midnight movie (for metalheads especially), hitting on notes of horror insanity that blend face-melting riffage with equally outstanding practical effects.


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When you walk into a movie titled Deathgasm, there’s an instant expectation of horrific lunacy. By purchasing a ticket, you’re begging for a literal orgasm of death set to the tune of metallic shredding that would make Satan himself piss his pants, and that’s something first-time-feature director Jason Lei Howden delivers in droves.

Once the film kicks in, with a frantic opening credits montage that’s comprised of devilish scribblings and face-melting guitar riffs, your hair will spike up and an excited chill will shoot down your spine as one thing becomes immediately apparent – Deathgasm is the real deal. Straight from the bowels of hell comes a metalhead’s wet dream, scored by some of the thrashiest New Zealand and international metal icons around. F*ck thumbs, this film gets two metal horns way, WAY up.

Milo Cawthorne and James Blake play Brodie and Zakk, two renegade outcasts who bond over their appreciation of bands like Trivium and Cannibal Corpse. Looking to channel their mutual love of metal, Brodie recruits two other loaners (Sam Berkley and Daniel Cresswell) to form a band the world isn’t ready for – Deathgasm. But without an abundance of talent, Deathgasm’s days of fame seem to be lightyears away. This leads to the discovery of ancient music sheets that contain some type of mind-altering sequence of notes that end up turning everyone within earshot into bloodthirsty demons. Even though Brodie and Zakk may have just brought upon the apocalypse, you can’t argue that it’s the most brutal move in the history of metal.

Much like the stereotypical perception of metal aficionados, Deathgasm is a film that never panders to worries about mainstream appeal. Metal is this great bonding device that permits people like Brodie to feel a familiar connection (the Brotherhood of Steel), and it lets this sinisterly unique bro-venture play out that empowers the misunderstood. Lead actress Kimberley Crossman has a beautiful moment of awakening when her character Medina listens to metal for the first time, and she’s immediately transported to a towering mountaintop where she appears as a Norse Goddess, sexily being clutched by two adoring nymphs. Not only is the scene a bit of comedic hilarity from Howden’s brilliantly mosh-pit of a mind, but in that one perfect moment, Deathgasm represents that uplifting sense of understanding that so many “outcasts” feel before their headphones transport themselves somewhere better. Believe it or not, but the film is kind of sweet.

Then again, Deathgasm‘s most memorable moments occur when Brodie and company unleash their warrior spirit upon the hordes of undead freakshows who want nothing more than human destruction. Howden’s hyper-active scripting throws together violence and aggressive dual-guitaring in wickedly addictive showings of gore, destruction, and practical mayhem that will have audiences demanding a bloody encore. From double-fisted chainsaw acrobatics to multiple dildo kills, from entire spinal cords being torn from fleshy corpses to head-splitting demon axings, Howden’s devotion to practical effects ensures that bloody tears of approval can be seen streaming down any audience member’s face. Sure, there might be a little more blood vomiting than some stomachs bargained for, but again, THE MOVIE IS CALLED DEATHGASM – a title that’s earned.

As a testament to Howden’s infectious energy, most of the cast exhibits the same kind of intensity, probably because their characters are trying to survive an attack from Satan’s army. Cawthorne and Blake are those headbanging brothers in darkness who just want to watch the world burn, and their characters are an inseparable pair when interacting on screen. They weather all the same storms that many cinematic best friends have before, especially with the inclusion of Crossman’s female wedge, but they’re like a blacker version of Bill and Ted who we could watch battle demonic forces for hours on end. Plus, they have the BEST song and band name ideas imaginable. “Intestinal Bungee Jump.” That’s all I’m going to say.

Crossman deserves her own paragraph, because that’s how much of a dynamite heroine Medina ends up being. In a time when people worry about the fate of strong female characters, Medina races forth into battle with a bloody axe and insanely hot confidence that never begs her to become an aggressive killer – her instincts just take over. But she’s also adorable in the girl-next-door kind of way, as she innocently licks an ice cream cone while Brodie describes the ever-expanding subgenres of metal. Crossman builds herself as a seductive love-interest, but then evolves into a demon-fighting lunatic with this bubbly, excitable attitude that only becomes hotter and hotter. What! There’s something about a gorgeous chick who can slay the undead that just works for me.

Deathgasm is a runaway train from Hell, driven by Ronnie James Dio as he pulls on a whistle that emits a Rob Halford screech, while Dimebag Darrell plays an unending solo that sets the world ablaze. It’s a relentless assault of righteous riffage and brutal demon-bashing insanity, which is a dream come true for studded-jacket wearing superfans who are begging for a movie that expresses that creative freedoms that are only found when sacrificing some sort of animal (don’t ask, don’t tell). Deathgasm is brutal, bloody, fanatical fun on levels that deliver exactly what’s expected. Howden cranks the slasher genre to 11, and hypnotizes horror audiences through an onslaught of demonic mutilation that would have Dethklok themselves cheering with joy.


Deathgasm is the ultimate midnight movie (for metalheads especially), hitting on notes of horror insanity that blend face-melting riffage with equally outstanding practical effects.

Deathgasm Review [SXSW 2015]