Deathgasm (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 18-Nov-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy / Horror Audio Commentary
Interviews-Crew-Demon Seed: Interview with Jason Lei Howden
Featurette-Brotherhood Of Steel: The Cast of Deathgasm
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Goregasm: The FX of Deathgasm
Interviews-Crew-Extended Interview with Jason Lei Howden
Music Video-Bulletbelt Deathgasm
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 86:06
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jason Lei Howden
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Milo Cawthorne
James Blake
Kimberley Crossman
Sam Berkley
Daniel Cresswell
Delaney Tabron
Stephen Ure
Colin Moy
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Gareth Van Niekerk
Chris van de Geer
Joost Langeveld


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Extra scene after credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† 2015ís Deathgasm is very much a throwback horror picture, with New Zealand writer-director Jason Lei Howden creating an excessively gory splatter flick clearly inspired by the likes of Evil Dead, Bad Taste and Braindead, among others, with a dash of heavy metal music for good measure. A gleefully off-the-hook horror-comedy, itís the helming debut for Howden, a visual effects artist who worked on Peter Jacksonís The Hobbit trilogy, among many other big-budget productions. The joys of Deathgasm are hard to deny, as itís teeming with humour and tongue-in-cheek gore, while the story is also enhanced by the nuances of life as a young metalhead. Itís a total gas for those who enjoy these kinds of low-budget indie horrors, easily exceeding many of the more generously-budgeted scare-fests of 2015.

††† When his drug-addicted mother is put into a mental hospital, teenager Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is sent to a nowhere town to live with his conservative Uncle Albert (Colin Moy) and bullying cousin David (Nick Hoskins-Smith). Brodie immediately struggles to fit in, but he soon bonds with aspiring musician Zakk (James Blake), who has a comparable interest in death metal. The pair soon decide to form a metal band called ďDeathgasm,Ē also recruiting fellow outcasts Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell), who love to play ďDungeons & Dragons.Ē Brodie also befriends the beautiful Medina (Kimberly Crossman), who usually dates arrogant jocks. Stealing a mysterious music sheet from aging rocker Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure), Brodie and his friends perform the song therein, but in the process accidentally unleash demonic forces upon the town.

††† Visual language is used to get across the characterisations and the light-hearted tone in no time, with Brodie and Zakkís love for metal influencing their looks, and thereís even some brief animation resembling notebook doodlings. Howden has stated that there is an autobiographical slant to the story, imbuing Deathgasm with a specific interest in, and affection for, death metal. Brodie is based on Howdenís experiences as a metalhead teen, lending a certain believability to the portrayal of the teenagers which makes them feel real, and it helps that Howden has a talent for writing amusing dialogue and sly gags (including a creative Rick Roll joke). There are some amateurish performances here from the supporting players in particular, but Cawthorne (whose filmography also includes Power Rangers R.P.M.) is a smart choice for the role of Brodie, even if he does look more like a twenty-something than a teenager. Another huge asset is Kimberly Crossman (another former Power Ranger) playing the token love interest; sheís disarming, and itís believable that all the boys in school lust after her.

††† In its opening act, Deathgasm is all about youth problems and heavy metal, but once the cursed sheet music is performed by the titular band, demons are unleashed and the movie becomes a gleefully over-the-top splatterfest, taking palpable inspiration from the Evil Dead series as well as Peter Jacksonís early cinematic efforts. Once the main characters recognise the threat, they take up makeshift weaponry, including chainsaws, a grass trimmer, axes, and even sex toys, sustaining an atmosphere of cheeky mischief as possessed townspeople are disembodied in inspired acts of exaggerated ultra-violence, brought to life through old-school practical special effects. Howden may be a digital VFX artist, but he recognised the importance of practical effects in a production of this ilk, even hiring the New Zealand-based special effects company who worked on both the Evil Dead remake and the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV show. The tone for Deathgasm is spot-on - itís neither a jokey farce nor an uncomfortable gore-fest, with Howden achieving the right tongue-in-cheek approach while still treating the material with sincerity. Also beneficial is Simon Rabyís smooth cinematography which effectively captures all the bloody mayhem without resorting to shaky-cam, while heavy metal songs dominate the soundtrack.

††† For the most part, Deathgasm succeeds as a fun, raucous romp, remaining juvenile and madcap as the craziness unfolds, but the movie begins running out of steam into its third act, with a few unnecessarily dramatic story developments threatening to hinder the fun vibe. It should be an easy sprint to the finish line, but momentum is halted at the wrong time, and the lag is felt. Plus, although the climax is excessively splattery, itís not quite as adept as the rest of the picture, with Howden struggling to maintain authority over the material. Still, some of these shortcomings are understandable given the low budget and the restricted shooting schedule. For what it is, Deathgasm is an agreeable, funny, entertaining throwback horror-comedy. And be sure to stick around until the end of the credits for an additional scene.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Deathgasm comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Madman, who have allotted the feature an MPEG-4 AVC-encoded 1080p high definition transfer, framed at 2.35:1 (the filmís original aspect ratio was 2.39:1). Technical specifications are hard to come by, but Howden explains in his commentary that Deathgasm was lensed with a variety of digital cameras, from a smartphone and a Canon 5D to a Red Epic, and itís doubtful that the digital intermediate was as high-end as a more generously-budgeted movie, so do not expect this Kiwi cheapie to be a reference-quality disc.

††† All things considered, Deathgasm looks pretty darn good on Blu-ray, though the transfer does have its limitations. Being a digital production, there is a lack of refinement in some scenes, and the video does look a bit flat on the whole. Without a grain structure, there is a limit to the detail and sharpness, with close-ups and mid shots usually faring better than the wides. Some digital noise does appear in lower-light conditions, though this likely attributable to the source.

††† Commendably, the transfer holds up during darker sequences, with the presentation showing no signs of black crush or any other anomalies. The blacks are deep and inky as well, which is important. Colours are pleasing, with blood looking strong and vivid, while the fantasy scenes look nicely vibrant. Deathgasm holds its own on Blu-ray, with an image that looks perfectly fine considering the limitations of the source.

††† There are no subtitles, which is a bit disappointing since the dialogue is sometimes hard to hear. More on this issue in the audio section.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† The only audio option on this disc is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. There is also an audio commentary track, encoded in DTS-HD MA 2.0. The 5.1 track does its job well enough overall, but it does have its shortcomings.

††† On the whole, the track does sound a tiny bit limp compared to other recent horror movies. Clarity is fine and thereís no muffling or any comparable anomalies, but itís in need of more oomph. Added to this, dialogue is unfortunately mixed too low, especially compared to the often loud sound effects and music, and as a result I found myself toggling the volume up and down a fair bit during the movie. Itís not as big of an issue as it was for, say, Insidious: Chapter 3, but itís underwhelming nevertheless, especially with the lack of subtitles.

††† Luckily, the gory set-pieces are handled well by the track, emphasising every spray of blood and act of dismemberment, while the heavy metal tracks produce a nice deep rumble. It has its flaws, but Deathgasm sounds respectable on the whole.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† A respectable selection of special features. Madman also provides reversible front cover artwork, which is enormously appreciated as the alternative artwork does not feature annoying ratings logos.

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jason Lei Howden

††† Howden doesnít deliver the best audio commentary, as he often gets lost watching the film (something he does actually apologise for) and sometimes struggles to think of what to say, but this is nevertheless worth listening to. Howden shares production trivia, talks about the casting process, discusses his background at WETA Digital, brings up his inspirations, and so on. He even talks about the possibility of Deathgasm 2: Goremageddon, which sounds mightily enticing.

Demon Seed: Interview with Jason Lei Howden (HD; 5:23)

††† An exceptional extra, this is a brisk, light interview with the director, who takes us through the process of getting the green-light for the project, as well as casting and recruiting many of his crew. Rehearsal footage is also included.

Brotherhood Of Steel: The Cast of Deathgasm (HD; 5:15)

††† Milo Cawthorne, James Blake and Kimberley Crossman are interviewed here, in which they discuss various aspects relating to the production and their experiences during shooting. All three are drenched in fake blood for their interviews, which is an amusing touch.

Goregasm: The FX of Deathgasm (HD; 5:13)

††† A priceless look inside the prosthetics department of the production, with footage from the set and plenty of footage from inside the workshop of the special effects guys collaborating with Howden to ensure they achieve his vision correctly. Thereís a special focus on scenes involving prosthetic p****es and dildos, for whatever reason.

Extended Interview with Jason Lei Howden (HD; 22:01)

††† Howden sits down for a rather extensive interview about the origins of the project, his personal ties to the story, the special effects, his inspirations, his favourite horror movies, metal albums, and so on. No B-roll footage or anything is included here, with the camera remaining in one place focused on the director for the entirety of the interview (aside from the title screens with the questions).

Bulletbelt Deathgasm Music Video (HD; 4:28)

††† A music video of the flick's heavy metal theme song, with a number of clips from the movie. Metalheads will probably get a kick out of this.

Theatrical Trailer (HD; 1:59)

††† An obligatory trailer, full of quotes from critics.

Madman Propaganda (HD; 9:42)

††† Another shameless reel of advertisements from Madman, who are at least open to labelling this as ďPropaganda.Ē Included here is an anti-piracy ad, plus trailers for What We Do In The Shadows, Big Game, Partisan, and John Dies at the End.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † The recently-released Region A release from MPI Media Group is slightly different from our local release. Madman's disc does have the edge, however - the extended interview with Jason Lei Howden is not included on the American Blu-ray, making this a local exclusive. MPI's disc does have English subtitles, which aren't present on Madman's disc, but an extra 22-minute featurette wins the day for local.

Summary

††† Despite its flaws, Deathgasm is a winner, with an infectiously fun tone making this reminiscent of Evil Dead 2, Bad Taste and Braindead. If you like gory horror-comedies, you'll enjoy this one. I certainly enjoyed it more than most of Hollywood's horror output for the year.

††† Madman's disc is solid on the whole, with a mostly stable presentation, while the extras are insightful, informative and worthwhile. I'm glad to have this in my collection. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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