Deathgasm is me when I was younger.
The socially awkward bits, not the badass bits.
Metal occupies an unusual place in New Zealand. While there’s a very strong underground fan base, there isn’t a big enough population or a diverse enough media offering for much to be broadcast. Music channels and radio I grew up with didn’t feature much metal at all — even the supposedly alternative (and now defunct) Channel Z was more alt-rock than anything. There are certainly plenty of metal bands in Aotearoa, but few make it out of their garages. And the ones that manage to attract some mainstream attention get it more for their novelty factor than anything else.
But there’s a silver lining — it means that metal in New Zealand has stayed underground, where it should be. Growing up a metal fan meant staying up ’til 2am when JuiceTV MIGHT have a half hour metal music video showcase, passing CDs around that you know you won’t hear anywhere else, and going to small bars and house parties.
The New Zealand movie Deathgasm captures that perfectly, and rolls in some good ol’ occult happenings for good measure.
Brodie is a metal fan who has to move in with his Christian uncle after his mother is instutionalised. He meets another metal fan, Zakk, and with two friends they form a band called “DEATHGASM” (all capitals, because lowercase is for pussies).
They happen upon some sheet music called “The Black Hymn” which happens to be a medieval song that can summon demons. After getting kicked around by bullies, Brodie gets the band to play it, so he can be imbued with demonic power for revenge. But this causes the townspeople to start bleeding from every orifice, become possessed, and kill. A demon is on the way, and only DEATHGASM can stop it.
It’s one part Scott Pilgrim, three parts Evil Dead 2, five dashes of Dead Alive and a heavy dose of 1986’s Trick or Treat. It definitely has that “let’s all get together and make a movie!” indie feel, which works great for the underground vibe. Deathgasm itself feels like a movie that you’d pass around to mates, just like the CDs Brodie passes around in the film.
The movie knows exactly what to focus on for its audience. The gore is top notch, real Peter Jackson-inspired splatter, with hoses of blood and wicked makeup effects. The possessed townspeople look suitably scary, even as they’re spouting cheesy one-liners through mouths packed with fake teeth and blood. My personal favourite effect was a chainsaw up the butthole of a demonic cult member.
I did feel like the plot wasn’t quite as straightforward as it could have been. “Accidentally release the demon, find a way to stop the demon” is really all it needed to be, with some characterisation and obstacles on top of that. I faded once or twice over the 86 minute runtime when fortune tellers and evil cult infighting was going on. But then Brodie and Zakk kill Brodie’s possessed uncle and aunt with a bunch of giant dildos, and I was right back in.
It’s an inspired idea that playing the song backwards defeated the demon, rather than released it. It’s a neat tip-of-the-hat to the “satanic panic” of the 80s, when paranoid mums and dads everywhere thought that playing metal records backwards created satanic messages. Which brings me to my favourite non-fact IMDB Triva Fact for Deathgasm:
There are rumors that if you play a muted DEATHGASM and Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death” simultaneously it syncs up perfectly due to precise editing. The filmmakers have yet to comment.
42 of 44 found that interesting.
In the end, Deathgasm is a movie that’s bloody fun for the audience it’s meant for, but everyone else will either not like it, not understand it, or get angry at it. Which is about as metal as it gets.