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“Deathgasm” (2015) REVIEW


Horror and comedy have been partners in crime since Abbott and Costello were being chased around by the Universal Monsters way back in the 1940s. But no decade helped solidify this magical marriage of genres better than the ’80s. A deluge of funny and scary flicks saturated the market and pretty much perfected the art during this time: The Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London, Gremlins, The Toxic Avenger, The Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Creeps, The Monster Squad, HouseKiller Klowns from Outer SpaceBeetlejuice. And that’s barely a third of them. I mean, just absolutely everywhere. And while Gremlins may have been the only massive blockbuster among the group, there is no doubt in any horror fans mind the importance of all the aforementioned titles to the history of the genre.

When the ’90s rolled around, however, horror comedies were a little harder to come by. And by the ’00s they barely made a blip on anyone’s radar, save for the crud that was the Scary Movie franchise. Sure, there are some hits buried in that first decade — Club Dread, Shaun of the Dead, Slither, Zombieland — but I still only need a hand and a half to count the passible releases from those 10 long years.

The good news is: horror comedies have slowly been making a comeback! Beginning with 2012’s sleeper meta hit The Cabin in the Woods, horror comedies have been steadily gaining traction once again — which brings us to 2015’s Deathgasm, the latest and greatest the genre has to offer.


The movie follows Brodie (Milo Cawthorne), a gawky teenaged metalhead who has to go live with his ultra-conservative aunt and uncle after his mom is institutionalized. He also has to attend a new school where he immediately falls for a flaxen-haired dreamgirl named Medina (Kimberly Crossman). To help integrate himself, he starts a metal band with a few classmates and a local badass, Zakk (James Blake). Meanwhile, he’s continually picked on at home and at school by his cousin David (Nick Hoskins-Smith).

Soon, Brodie and Zakk come into possession of some mysterious sheet music written in Latin, and decide to translate it and have their band cover it. In doing so, they (somewhat) unknowingly open the gates of Hell — turning many people into horrific demons and ultimately summoning the D-man himself (I’m talkin’ about Satan, you sapheads.) Now it’s up to the timid Brodie, his crush Medina, and their motley crew of metalheads to stop the demons.


I’d seen a few mixed reviews from friends online, so I was a little leery about watching it, but let me just say: I loved this movie. It’s the perfect love letter to splatstick flicks like Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Peter Jackson’s Braindead. Plus, it has a cinematic prowess that recalls the techniques of Raimi, and even Edgar Wright: lots of kinetic cuts, lots of fluid edits, and director Jason Lei Howden makes sure that every shot counts. This last part — the way it was shot and edited — may be the most important aspect of all, above the rampant blood and guts. It’s always a terrible idea when horror movies let creative direction take a backseat to whatever story they’re trying to tell, since most horror films rarely have anything new to say. In fact, I’d argue the way a horror film is shot is possibly the most important aspect above anything else. Recent indie faves like It Follows, The Babadook, The Boy, Spring, The Canal — all lauded, yet each story couldn’t be more different from the next. The one thing they have in common? They’re all gorgeously lensed. And that really, really matters.

Ultimately, Deathgasm is just a really fun film that doesn’t take itself — or anything else, for that matter — seriously. The jokes are sharp and they never linger on a punchline too long. Plus: the gore is gore-geous! Split heads, torn limbs, intestines, and blood-puking that makes the cherry pit scene from The Witches of Eastwick look positively tame. I mean, how can you go wrong with a movie about a group of metalheads in corpse paint trying to save their town from demonic hellspawn? You can’t.

Deathgasm is currently on VOD and I say CHECK IT OUT!



Choosing which two movies I wanted to talk about for my Drive-In Double Feature wasn’t easy. As all the entries this past month have shown, there are endless combinations — none of them wrong, each one utterly singular and wonderfully creative. I had a couple ideas bouncing around (ones I’ll save for next year, or maybe before then) but I finally decided on Beetlejuice and The Frighteners since Beetlejuice — more specifically, its potential sequel — has been in the news lately.


See, for years now, people have been clamoring for a Beetlejuice sequel — but what they don’t realize is they’ve had a Beetlejuice sequel for years already: The Frighteners. Let’s look at some of the obvious comparisons:

  • Both are about the dead interacting with the living, specifically the dead helping the living accomplish a goal.
  • Both are about a living person using the dead to dupe other living people.
  • Both feature smart-assed ghosts.
  • Both prove that even the dead can still die again.
  • And perhaps most damning of all: both were scored by Danny Elfman! I mean, c’mon people!

The similarities don’t end there.

The catalyst in both films is a car wreck: in Beetlejuice, a car accident kills the Maitlands, which allows them to interact with the dead. In The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox and his wife are also in a car accident; the crash kills the wife, but near-death experience allows Fox to — you guessed it — communicate with the dead.

Plus, look at this car chase from The Frighteners. Everything is very lush and green, hills are winding, homes are painted white and almost look like models. Tell me these locations don’t look exactly like the model set Adam Maitland builds of the little town in Beetlejuice! The car crash at the end of Beetlejuice (the one that takes place on the miniature model) looks identical to the one that happens in The Frighteners. Hell, they even both involve antique model vehicles!

Both also have interesting MPAA ratings: Despite the violence being comical in nature or happening offscreen entirely, The Frighteners was deemed far too violent, and the board forced an R-rating on an unhappy Peter Jackson despite him making as many cuts as he possibly could. Yet Beetlejuice — which features a perverted ghost marrying an underage girl, corpses who talk about suicide, one crotch grab, and one use of “fuck” — snuck by with a harmless PG.

And there is one more loose, tenuous parallel: in The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox lives in an home he never finished building, and it’s in need of major repairs; in Beetlejuice, after the Maitlands die, the Deetzes move in and make major repairs and changes. The homelife in both films, the disarray — it’s too blatant to ignore.


But despite their numerous similarities, the reception to either film couldn’t have been any different. While Beetlejuice became a smash hit and an 80s classic, and probably the most memorable film production for all those involved, The Frighteners failed at the box office and became a mere footnote in Peter Jackson’s filmography. It was also Fox’s last leading role in a live-action feature film. However, in recent years, people seem to be coming to their senses and have now realized what a goddamn gem The Frighteners is, and it has developed, as the cool kids say, a “cult following”.

I remember seeing The Frighteners in the theater with my folks when I was 12 years old. It blew me away. I’ve always been into two things: scary stuff and funny stuff; The Frighteners knocked it out of the goddamned park with both! Aside from just being incredibly fun and well written and beautifully shot, it has tons of incredible special effects. In fact, it required more digital effects shots than almost any movie made up until that time (thanks, Wikipedia!)


I originally saw Beetlejuice as a small child, most likely from a video store rental. I don’t remember when I saw it I just remember being so young that stuff about the film didn’t make sense to me until years later. Like when the Maitlands drown; I didn’t realize they were dead. When Geena Davis trots the horse statue in front of the mirror to show she has no reflection, I had no goddamned idea what was going on. When the Maitlands possess the Deetzes and force them to dance to calypso music, I couldn’t have been more lost — but damn if that wasn’t a great scene to a toddler!

A double feature of Beetlejuice and The Frighteners makes more sense the longer I sit here and type (also, the more beer I drink.) Beetlejuice is a wonderful ode to the practical effects of 80s horror — even utilizing ‘old-school’ stop motion animation in several scenes. The Frighteners shows the turning of the tide, blending both practical effects and digital effects but leaning more on the latter. Both films would be nominated for and win several Saturn awards. Beetlejuice would even win an Academy Award for best make-up!

Both films also have huge, colorful supporting casts — Beetlejuice with Sylvia Sydney and Dick Cavett; The Frighteners with Dee Wallace, John Astin, and Jeffrey Combs!


It feels silly summarizing both films, especially Beetlejuice since it has become so embedded in the pop culture collective consciousness — so I’ll skip the summations. But trust me: these movies are the perfect double feature, not simply because they compliment each other, but because one feels like an extension of the other. Go watch both…now!

“Nekromantik” (1987) REVIEW


This experiment in exhumation hails from Der Vatherland during the late-80s punk rock horror boom. At the time — and maybe even now, still — it was extremely controversial due to it’s subject matter (corpse-sexing).

A young man works for a body removal unit and it allows him to indulge in his favorite pastime: necrophilia. His girlfriend doesn’t seem to mind much, as she partakes in the ghoulish going-ons. However, the man never seems satisfied, and his icky urges escalate. He loses his job and his girlfriend; soon he begins killing randomly people. The poor guy can’t catch a break.

The movie ends on a bittersweet (?) note as the man is able to achieve his greatest sexual urge while at the same time ending his reign of madness. It’s as jaw-dropping of a scene as they come.

At 75 minutes, the movie flies by. The special effects are nice and sloppy and recall a young Peter Jackson. Enjoy this one with grandma and the kids!