Movie Review: Deathgasm/Heavy Metal Apocalypse (2016)

NOTE: This review is coming from the Wal-Mart version of the film, retitled “Heavy Metal Apocalypse.” I have contacted the creators of the film, who have insisted that the official print of the film has not been altered in any way, regardless of packaging and DVD Menus.

Deathgasm is a New Zealand independent film that claims to be “The Most Metal Film Of All Time.” Or at least, that’s what VH1 says. But I’ve always had a problem with a channel that preferred glam metal over everything else, especially when “That Metal Show” might as well have been “That Hair Metal Show.” While there are several documentaries out there that are far more “metal” than this film, as far as films in general are concerned, there are far less metal films out there than this one. The only thing even close would be Tenacious D’s “The Pick Of Destiny” which hinges an awful lot on rock, even though it also features Ronnie James Dio. It is very difficult to one-up a film that literally features one of the saints, nay, gods of heavy metal in such a brilliant and remarkable legend. However, Deathgasm is slightly different, albeit similar to “The Pick Of Destiny.” Deathgasm is definitely centered more on extreme metal than the classic metal and rock featured in the former, and is also more horror-oriented. But there’s no doubting that both are comedies. One is just the more disgusting and perverted kind that I prefer a bit more.

The easiest way to explain Deathgasm is to call it an Evil Dead remake that metal fans want to see. There’s absolutely no doubting that this is by and large a retelling of the Sam Raimi classic, but it comes with a fresh flair in the world of death and black metal which separates it from the source material and makes it a film all it’s own. Deathgasm has everything that a metal and gore fan could want: severed heads, sexual humor, lesser-known metal acts being name-dropped, black magic and loads of blood and gore. Yet oddly enough, I saw an awful lot of Trivium posters hanging around the walls and such, which struck me as odd. Trivium aren’t actually a very “metal” act, especially as of the band’s two recent records, the first of which was produced by David Draiman of Disturbed. That’s okay though, as I thought the band’s latest disc was rather good music – just nothing of the extreme metal variety. I guess it would be closer to traditional metal, which gets a nod or two here as well.

The whole thing starts off simple enough, a metalhead by the name of Brodie (and yeah, he’s got metal patches sewn all over his denim jacket) who looks to be so metal that he must have run away from a popular band or something. There are people in the world who are literally that metal, they just don’t go around and show it 24/7 as our character does. Though I am reminded that this is a film, so I should be nice. In any case, our character has the rough spot of luck as he winds up living under the roof of people who don’t even seem like they could be related to him. But that’s probably why he was sent off, some reason being that he was too much a rebel, or suchlike. (Cue Accept’s “I’m A Rebel”) At any rate, he’s living in this suburban household with these religious people who are somehow related to him, as well as a cousin who seems to be your run of the mill Jock. As we’d expect, he listens to rap music (of which the film highly downgrades, regardless of the fact that acts like Ill Bill, Necro and The Circle Of Tyrants have heavily embraced metal within their music) as does his girlfriend, who sees Brodie as a sort of outcast and bad boy. She motions to him while in the car to stop bullying the boy, and later meets up with him at a park bench to what later becomes the infamous “ice cream scene.” Now one thing about this scene that I saw differently from the film’s first online still was that it looked as if some dark black metal character was licking an ice cream cone and felt a little bit more comedic than it did within the context of the film. Though Brodie was a black metal influenced looking character there, he did not have the same feel as a man who would hold a glass of wine up to his lips, drink of it and merely say, “Satan” when asked what was the greatest influence in his act. He just looked like a guy dressed up rather oddly and having a bite to eat with a woman of a different type who found him attractive. This references the “opposites attract” theory, which is heavily true in most cases. The reality of this, is that it most certainly does happen in real life as to some metalheads will attest; and I know there are men in their forties and fifties who go outside in the garage and play Death, Maiden, Sabbath. Entombed and others loudly as they find some project to work on. The wives of course, could care nothing for the music, but found the personality interesting in itself. One important point of the film is that he hands her a slew of CD’s, one being a disc from Cattle Decapitation (who I’ve met) and Anal Cunt (who I can’t even stand) among others. She looked a bit displeased and perhaps confused with these discs, as would any woman not aware of such things, but she seemed profoundly interested. The girl was previously listening to rap music (which again, was nearly demonized here) as she put on one of his CD’s from an act that I couldn’t recognize from the album cover alone – even though I am certain that it was not in the vein of the death metal discs that he had given her. Later in the film, one might assume that she had listened to these and several other albums of that ilk. But for now, it was this classic heavy metal record, which threw her into this amazing heavy metal world in which she shreds the guitar. Now, as a music reviewer for half a decade or more, I can’t tell you that I’ve ever had that feeling, but I’ve had feelings that are very similar. From this moment on, one would assume she was finished with the rather boring rap music.

Then we meet Zakk. For some odd reason, such a podunk town happens to have a record shop and fortune teller right in the center of it. Not unheard of, but exceedingly rare. The shop seems to sell metal records exclusively, even though I didn’t really see any other metalheads in the film and you’d think there would be some more if that was indeed the case. Brodie meets Zakk in the store, while going through metal vinyls. Yes, Brodie seems to prefer listening to metal on vinyl, even though it is ungodly expensive and I would never support such a retro-revivalist movement. The prices of vinyls are outright staggering, last I looked. Especially for records that have been out for more than thirty years. In any case, the two find a common interest in one particular record, and from there a bond is made. They do all sorts of “bad boy activities” and wind up in the house of a fictional metal legend, who apparently played some sort of evil incantation. The man lives in a dark and decrepit house, seeming like he’s nearly dead due to his obvious enslavement to drugs. They pry the record from his hands, only to have him try to attack them. They still manage to walk away with the disc, which is nothing special, except for the paper which seems to be a Latin incantation to bring forth a demon that gives one all they could desire, more or less. Before this, they’d formed a band (Zakk just happened to have a practice space with all sorts of high quality instruments lying around) which they called Deathgasm. Now they decide to play this incantation, which sounds like Candlemass (and makes me wonder why the walls never shook when playing any sort of doom metal) and makes everyone in the town begin to vomit blood and act rather oddly.

Before this, Brodie had gotten the shit kicked out of him by his cousin. Of course, that’s because “you’re messing around with my woman” sort of thing, even though it was clearly her that made the moves first. This is also a very common thing in human relations. In any case, Zakk comes to her with a sort of message from Brodie telling her that he doesn’t want to be with her and should move on more or less. It breaks her heart, to which Zakk gives her his jacket and they begin to make out and possibly have sex there on the bench. I am not entirely sure and the film does not tell us for certain. In any case, Brodie feels that he must do this incantation to gain power over his enemies, which would have also been cool. But then it would have made the film a “revenge film” and would kill the comedy aspect. There are plenty of films like that, like Tamara and Carrie for instance. After the whole incantation is played again and again, Evil Dead happens. Yes, it happens just like Evil Dead as well. The possessed act just as they would in Raimi’s film, even speaking perfect English as they talk about eating one’s soul. It was very much in tribute to the Evil Dead films and even involved the classic chainsaw. You’ll also get a wonderful scene with an axe.

While all of this is going on, there are some rather villainous people, even though I’m very upset as to what happens to one of them near the middle half of the film. His scene with the beheading is nearly iconic and will stick in my mind for a long time to come. It’s simply sadistic, showing how much of a bastard he is. I really wanted him to have more screen time and was awfully upset when the less interesting female character took the role of villain. I also believe that had the mastermind survived, he would have been nearly impossible to defeat. The villianess just sort of cowered there in the corner. I was rather disappointed in that, it felt like they should have just removed all of that and the film would have been better for it. In other words, a lightning bolt should have come down and wiped the whole enemy group out after the mastermind was killed. That really did it for me, and it’s why I lowered the score to the film by one whole point. Such a great character, and they pulled a George R. R. Martin on him. Shameful. Could you even imagine what a sick bastard like him would have done with the power? We would have had one hell of a film on our hands, might have even been an NC-17 release.

I’m not going to spoil the whole film here, as well as some of the great comedy bits and kills, but I definitely think that horror and metal fans (usually the same) will find something here. The move was cheaply priced (I only paid ten dollars for it) and I’d definitely say that it was worth the money I spent. There are very few movies that I’d watch again in my life, and this is definitely one of them. I don’t know about the most metal film of all time, but Deathgasm is pretty damn close. I would have liked less core influence in some of the music, but getting to hear classic Emperor balances it out. I also really liked the choice of Skull Fist for the credits, as that record really kicked my ass and got high marks when it was reviewed a few years back. Still sounds just as great now. Enough of my blabbering, go see Deathgasm. I promise you won’t regret it. The Grim Tower highly approves Deathgasm, so get off your ass and watch it. Do the whole popcorn and hot sauce thing too, because you need to have really spicy gut burner popcorn while you’re watching this film.

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