Gutterballs 2008 Review

Gutterballs 2008

Directed by: Ryan Nicholson

Starring: Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Wittle

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

As fans of horror, maybe you can tell me, when is it safe to say that in attempts to shock, filmmakers have gone too 9838738738739839030-3far? Now a big part of my youth was spent hunting out video nasties, but bizarre as it may 87575487484949848494seem, they look very tame opposed to some of the efforts to be gratuitous that we get now.

I turned thirty this year and maybe it’s just that I’m a bit of an old fashioned kind of guy. I even think that modern music takes the level of profanity far too high. I mean, as adults we all have sex, we all know swear words, we all can drink and if we really, REALLY wanted to, we could probably all get hold of a bag of drugs. Does it excite you to hear songs about this? How does it make you feel? Is it really necessary? Personally I 86349864think it’s more creative to be restrained, but as I said, I must be somewhat out of touch.

I know that it is a strange thing to say, but cultural transgression and a much looser level of acceptance, has given old-skool slashers a kind of innocence about them. I guess that you could compare it to the way that the fifties era of rock and roll now looks laughably lame,but at the time was pretty controversial. Despite it’s efforts to reference its retro roots as you can see in most of the artwork, Gutterballs goes all out to take things to a new level of explicitness.

A verbal and physical fight between two gangs results in the sadistic rape of a young girl. The following night at the bowling rink, a masked killer locks everyone inside and begins to slaughter them one by one.

* I tried to edit out the language as much as possible, but I couldn’t post without one ‘F’ so be warned –

Judging by his age, director Ryan Nicholson would have experienced and enjoyed the outstanding achievements of  8767565878998098Canada’s entries to the slasher genre under producers such as John Dunning and Peter Simpson and directors including William Fruet and Paul Lynch. He began his career as a make-up artist and special effects technician for TV shows like the X Files and Stargate before he took his talents to the silver screen for major budgeted pictures, which include Final Destination. His success has allowed him to be the major force in Canada based studio, Plotdigger films. His first feature length movie, Live Feed – a torture porn gore fest in the vein of Hostel – gave him the springboard to produce more of his ideas and Gutterballs is the result of years of hard work.

The movie has a nice look and a very retro feel in the way it makes the most of its eighties setting. The bootleg that I watched for this review has a great soundtrack, which was never licensed for the final cut that is widely available, due84767478498309303-03 to the obvious high costs involved. Nicholson makes good use of the location and the methods of murder are themed to involve all that you can imagine from bowling appliances. One girl is killed by having her throat sliced by the laces of a pair of the specialised shoes, whilst another has his entire face ‘burned off’ by a ball waxing machine (see above). There’s also a highly amusing ’69 suffocation’, where a chick is choked by her partner’s (prosthetic) penis and the guy is smothered to death by…well, you get the idea. The director has said that he doesn’t believe in cutting away and his vision of horror is to make it as graphic as possible. In its unrated print, Gutterballs definitely delivers on the gore score and you will never feel cheated by a lack of ambition from the effects.

The killer’s disguise is immense and the mystery aspect is handled with enough suspects to keep you guessing and I liked the choice for the maniac’s identity. The pace stays high from start to finish and there’s even a macabre calling 8338787398320922card as the body count is notched up on the computerised score board – a skull and crossbones for each victim.

If this had been released during the period that it references, it would have been banned in most countries and therefore would have become a cult classic. I can imagine it being the kind of film that my buddies and I would have uncovered on a cruddy VHS and bunked off of school to sit down and watch – repeatedly. But while trying its hardest to be the baddest of the bunch, it 8487467567748744comes across as too excessive and lacks class and charm. The director has been very vocal in his defence of the extremely graphic rape sequence, which sees a girl violated by a bowling pin after being brutally penetrated by three guys. He has admitted that it was tough to shoot, but he did it to get a reaction from the audience, even if it be one of immense disgust. It’s certainly an uncomfortable scene to watch, but even after the appalling nature of the event, it’s almost impossible to feel sympathy for any of these characters as they are a collection of personalities without one redeeming feature between them.

There’s no excuse for rape and no one deserves it, but after an intro that takes ludicrous sexual profanity to a level perhaps unseen in cinema previously, it’s impossible to pick anyone to care about. The film is heinously scripted to 848748794983093093the extent that it looks to have no vocabulary other than swear words and in some scenes we get five or six actors shouting over each other at the same time. Every second word is a vile cuss and by the fifth time of hearing c**t or d**k it had exactly the wrong kind of effect. I may have thought that Gutterballs was cool when I was a rebellious fourteen year-old, but as an adult it just looked ignorant and devoid of intelligence.

It’s not just the language that is taken to the outer limits. When it comes to nudity, we get a close up shot of a shaved vagina and countless prosthetic penises. Most of the murders have a sexual angle, including one guy getting his eyes gauged out and then his corpse discovered with used condoms in his eye sockets. The ‘included just for a reason to be homophobic’ transvestite gets his genitals cut in half in loving close up and one guy is violently 9725sodomised with a sharp instrument.

If any or all of the above takes your fancy then Gutterballs will fulfil your wildest cinematic desires and if that’s the case it has achieved exactly what the director had intended. But me, I definitely prefer the less is more approach and thought this was too distasteful for its own good. It’s sleazy 98387387387398239822for sure, but in a way that lacks sympathy for the results of its actions and that’s the biggest missing ingredient that it needed to make it effective. I agree with director Ryan Nicholson that gore is in itself a form of art, but to be artistic you need to be aware of parameters and this slasher has none that I noticed.

A tribute to the eighties peak this may be, but even the worst of them had more style than this. I may be harsh as the director seems like an intelligent enough guy to realise that pushing it beyond the limits was always going to upset some and therefore he must have expected this type of reaction. I do however have to call it as I see it and what I saw I didn’t enjoy as much as I should have

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore √√√√

Final Girl √

RATING:

828738987676767


Posted on November 28, 2011, in Slasher and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hi Luisito, I just watched Gutterballs after reading your review and I must say you hit this one on the nail! I thought the location being a bowling alley was an awesome idea and the gore was great but the script and the characters and all the random XXX scenes spread throughout just made this film sooooo abnoxious to watch… The kills were inventive and very gory which is something I always find great elements that I really enjoy in slashers (“Intruder” comes to mind as an 80’s model that strikes me as fairly of similar in context to Gutterballs with a comparable setting though Intruder is superior in every way possible…. obviously!) though the characters were so unlikable it made it nearly impossible to have anyone to root for in this one which when you look at it really defeats the whole purpose of a slasher movie in general! I’ll probably end up checking out the sequel because the director did show promise though I just hope he goes in a different direction.

    • Hi Brandon. I’m glad that you agree. I though the film was well made, but it’s tough to appreciate people that are so rotten to the core. I believe a horror story works better with more sympathy to those that are about to become victims. Eighties slashers handled this perfectly by including a gang of kids, whose only real sin was having a good time. Then after Scream, it seemed that scripts were filled with arrogant smart ass daddy’s girls and jocks that we couldn’t care less about. Whilst it’s easy to say that Halloween and Friday (parts 1,2,3,4,6) got it spot on, another perfect example is StageFright from 1987. Here we had some likeable people and a couple of horrendous personalities that suffered the most gruesome of fates. In most modern entries, I couldn’t care less who lives or dies. Intruder also is another good selection of characters that weren’t well defined, but were fun and therefore likeable. The first example that I recall was Melissa from Friday the 13th The New Blood who got the axe in her face when Jason bursts through the door. She, in many ways, or coincidentally, was the prototype for the many smart-ass players that would follow

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