So, here’s a thing about me: I love rock ‘n’ roll horror movies. I love them. I can’t get enough of them. They can be amazing (like Black Roses or Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare). They can be awful (like Slaughterhouse Rock, co-starring Toni Basil, or Dead Girls). Mostly, they’re mediocre (like Paganini Horror, or Lone Wolf, or Deadline, or… well, most of the rest of them). If it’s a horror movie and there’s a rock band in it, I’ll watch it.
The thing about rock ‘n’ roll horror movies is that they really peaked in the 1980s. The right-wing majority was decrying the moral turpitude of that hard rock music, Metallica and Judas Priest were incorporating backwards-masked satanic messages, and there was a fear and misunderstanding around rock ‘n’ roll that allowed filmmakers to really easily import the trappings wholesale and base a horror movie around them. Plus, you know, mad style. Leather! Studs! Spikes! Makeup!
Because they peaked in the 1980s, there haven’t been a lot of really good rock ‘n’ roll horror movies that have come out since then– there were a handful in the 1990s, some of which were decent, and then about a baker’s dozen since the turn of the century. (Full disclosure, here– I have most of them, but I haven’t watched them. I’m talking about Suck, Neowolf, Reverb, Studio 666, 13 Seconds, and other movies of their ilk. I haven’t watched them because 1) I’m pretty sure they’re going to be terrible; and 2) I don’t want to watch a terrible rock ‘n’ roll horror movie unless I’m with someone who will also enjoy a terrible rock ‘n’ roll horror movie (probably with a couple of beers).
Anyway. I’m delighted to say that there’s a new, modern entry in the rock ‘n’ roll horror canon, and it’s a masterpiece. That movie is Deathgasm, a New Zealand comedy-horror flick about a couple of metalhead teenagers who summon a demon. So, yes, double-whammy: rock ‘n’ roll horror AND a Kiwi comedy-splatter flick.
It’s pretty magical.
I don’t really need to explain the plot to you. Teen metalheads summon demon, must try to banish demon before extinction of earth. There’s some surrounding set dressing and frippery, but no one’s watching this movie for the plot. They’re watching it for the performances, the special effects (gore and demons), the humor, and the metal.
And hoo boy, does it deliver.
The titular heavy metal band is a group of angry surly high-school-aged kids. Whoever did the casting here did an amazing job– the bassist and guitarist look like every metalhead I knew in junior high and high school– one hulking angry dude, one skinny frenetic dude. The keyboardist is the nerdy bespectacled kid, and the drummer is the chubby one. They nail that stereotypical / archetypical High School Metal Band aesthetic. The main character gets a crush on a popular girl, who reciprocates– at which point, Bill said “They even have the popular girl who lets her freak flag fly!”
Beyond the acting, there’s a pretty good plot point revolving around a specific bit of weird bullshit high-school drama, which causes a bit of a rift in the band– and the bit of drama is exactly the kind of drama that I saw happen in multiple high school and college bands.
These guys absolutely nail the dynamics and characteristics of teenage bands.
Also, it’s hilarious on many levels.
When they can’t find other weapons to use against the demons, they come out swingin’ pipe like this (and a string of anal beads).
The antagonist is an honest-to-goodness satanist who wants to summon the demon for his own ends, and who employs a number of idiotic cultists, who can’t manage to get anything right. They behead a fellow on a really nice rug, for instance:
And that isn’t even the funniest part of that particular beheading scene.
This movie even has a bit of poignancy, albeit wry, smirking poignancy.
Also, it’s metal as fuck.
This movie, upon its emergence, has taken a rightful place in Keef’s Top Five Rock ‘n’ Roll Horror Movies of All Time. If you like super-goofy Kiwi splatter horror, you probably also like rock ‘n’ roll horror, and you should shell out for this movie.