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Film Review: Deathgasm

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★★★★☆

Jason Lei Howden’s wickedly funny NZ gore-fest, a mega hit at last year’s FrightFest, is one of his country’s finest since Peter Jackson’s Braindead

They may be known most widely for WETA and their involvement with the Lord of the Rings franchise, but New Zealand has plenty more to offer, especially when horror is involved.

Between Black Sheep and last year’s Housebound, NZ cinema has been something of a haven for fans of black comedy in recent years, and visual effects man Jason Lei Howden’s debut is definitely another great stab in the right direction for the genre.

The fantastically titled Deathgasm centres around the eponymous band, a group of high-school metal-heads, who find their unsatisfying lives pepped-up somewhat by the discovery of missing sheet music for a legendary unrecorded song. 

Deciding to disobey grave warnings from the music’s original creator, the boys begin playing, only to find they have accidentally marked their sleepy suburb with a deadly curse which morphs the townspeople into bloodthirsty demons, and in the process, has also reawakened an ancient evil hell-bent on destroying humanity. So, nothing overly ambitious then. 

What follows is a gloriously cheap cavalcade of extreme violence and cheesy jokes, all hinged perfectly on the very fact that Howden’s film knows exactly how ridiculous it is and as a result, never once takes itself seriously.

Deathgasm has plenty of room then to do whatever it wants, a sentiment it really exploits well. 

Howden’s action is quite frankly some of the most creative the horror genre has seen in a long time, as he mines the very limits of what is on offer to deliver kills that are not only satisfyingly bloody, but also frequently well-timed and almost always hilarious too. 

It will most likely prove to be the only film you ever see where an adolescent boy, dressed to the nines in black-metal style war-paint, murders his own devoutly Christian aunt with a pair of malfunctioning vibrators - and if such an image doesn’t at the very least make you chuckle, then this really isn’t the film for you. 

The bottom line is, this film is angling for a very specific gore-friendly audience, one characterised perfectly by the FrightFest crowd, and if you don’t quite fit into that demographic, Deathgasm will probably all seem a bit much. 

The monster designs are decidedly old-school (burly men in rubber suits - Power Rangers style) and the large majority of the film’s humour rests on bodily dismemberment, so as you can probably guess, high-art this is not. 

Fans that can see past this blatant cheapness and buy into the ridiculously dark laughs are guaranteed a good time.

Aside from an opening that’s a tad too slow, and a finale that doesn’t quite land as explosively as it could, Deathgasm is a riotously wacky horror-comedy that may well prove to be one of the funnest demon apocalypses on recent record. 

Deathgasm is out this Monday on DVD and Blu-ray through StudioCanal. Certificate 15. 

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