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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Deathgasm  (2015)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: January 5, 2016) – Harkening back to the heavy-metal horror-fantasy likes of 1986's "Trick or Treat" and 1987's "The Gate," "Deathgasm" is a jestful, splatterific New Zealand-made satire determined to live up to its moniker. When his meth-addicted mom gets sent to jail, sensitive metalhead teen Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) moves to the nowhere town of Greypoint to stay with his God-fearing uncle and idiot-jock cousins. Trying to find a place to fit in as he dodges bullies and pines from afar for classmate Medina (Kimberley Crossman), he starts a metal band with aspiring musician Zakk (James Blake) and the "Dungeons & Dragons"-playing Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell). The decision to snatch a mysterious music sheet from Haxan Sword lead singer Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure) is questionable enough, but when the friends play the song they inadvertently unleash demonic forces hellbent on possessing the town.

"Deathgasm" aims to be a raucous party romp, and for the most part it succeeds. Taking it seriously isn't really in the cards—in one scene, the guys use dildos, vibrators and anal beads as deadly weapons—but the violence incurred in the third act threatens to put a damper on the fun vibe. Nevertheless, there is a sweetly observant, albeit acid-tongued, tone which writer-director Jason Lei Howden gets right. Aided by Simon Raby's spasmodic but disciplined camerawork, Howden lends the film a stylized visual spark, his incorporation of colorful animation with the live-action story giving it the feel of a graphic novel come to life. Milo Cawthorne and Heath Ledger-lookalike James Blake are well cast as long-haired, metal-loving partners in crime Brodie and Zakk, while the old-school practical effects additionally give the proceedings a throwback feel. "Deathgasm" is perhaps too busy for its own good and not always seamlessly plotted—the epilogue set two months later leaves more logistical questions than answers for its teen protagonist—but the movie's infectious sensibilities are hard to deny.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Deathgasm" is a gore-splashed beauty on Blu-ray, the film's 1080p transfer handling its diverse aesthetic sheen with aplomb. Whether the scene is gray and brooding, awash in nighttime blues and crimson red, or journeying into bright, partly animated fantasies and daydreams, the high-def image comes alive. Colors are vibrantly saturated, black levels are richly resonant, and detail and dimensionality are consistently pleasing. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a sonic force. Leading the way is the boisterous heavy-metal soundtrack and a climactic showdown as limbs are ripped off and chainsaws buzz their way through demonic body parts. Surrounds are active, while dialogue is crisp and clear. A lossless 2.0 track is also offered.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with writer-director Jason Lei Howden
  • "Brotherhood of Steel: The Cast of Deathgasm" Featurette (5:02, HD)
  • "Demon Seed: An Interview with Jason Lei Howden" Featurette (5:25, HD)
  • "Gorgasm: The FX of Deathgasm" Featurette (5:14, HD)
  • Music Video: "Deathgasm" by Bulletbelt (4:20, HD)
  • Trailer (2:01, HD)
  • Teaser (0:59, HD)
Bottom Line
Acclaimed during its premiere at 2015's SXSW Festival but quietly opening theatrically in limited release a few months later, quick-witted horror-comedy "Deathgasm" is destined to find a cult audience on digital and home-video formats. The best way to see it, of course, is this features-packed Blu-ray from Dark Sky and MPI Media Group, where the excellent 1080p picture and lossless audio rise above. Recommended.

Buy Now at Amazon

© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman


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