MAD JESTER REVIEWS: GUTTERBALLS
Greetings, gore-crows! Mad Jester here, with another movie review! Did you miss me? Tough noogies, here I am anyway.
This time, I'm being a patriotic psychopath, and taking a look at an offering from the Land of Bacon, Home of the Wild Timbit, Place of Good Beer- yes, it's a Canadian Content review from yours madly! This time I'm reviewing a movie that starts out slowly- and weakly- and builds to a thoroughly-entertaining climax. A real 7-10 split of a movie, with a bumper-crop of nice kills pinned on. It won't be up everyone's alley, but hardly worth striking from one's viewing list. (See what I did there, awkwardly?) So join me, won't you, in my review of 2008's horror-comedy Gutterballs, starring Alastaire Gamble, Candice Lewald and Nathan Witte and Wax-O-Matic?
Our story begins in the 1980s, with two groups of youngsters- one team comprised of Jamie (Witte), Lisa (Lewand), Dave, Ben, Cindy, Sarah and pre-op transsexual Sam, the other team composed of The Douche Squad- Steve (Gamble), Joey, AJ, and the almost-not-a-douche Patrick- as they meet after hours at the Xcalibur bowling alley in Surrey, British Columbia. The Collar-Poppin' Daddies begin harassing and assaulting Sam, and when Jamie and Co. step in to put a stop to it, the janitor (Egerton, the guy who let them in to play in the first place) steps in and turns the lot of them out for roughhousing, saying they can come back for their bowling tournament the next night. As they prepare to leave, Lisa realizes she forgot her purse inside, and when she goes back in to get it, she's brutally gang-raped by Steve, AJ and Joey (Patrick abstaining, but watching in horror as it happens) in a scene that last ENTIRELY too long for my own comfort. Patrick refuses to participate and, when Steve grabs a bowling pin and prepares to do nasty things with it, Patrick tells him he's going too far... which prompts Steve to hand the pin to Patrick and brow-beat him into doing the shocking deed himself. (He even says 'I'm Sorry' right before, such a good boy he is. Yecchh.) The gang (douchenozzle and otherwise) shows up the next night for their rematch, only to find themselves locked in with a masked killer- who knows what happened the previous night, and seeks to wreak a bloody retribution...
I found this movie to be truly entertaining, although there were a number of serious issues. For example, the acting; nobody turned in anything that could be called a stellar performance, although Steve, AJ and Joey are thoroughly convincing in their roles as collar-popped, pastel-sporting, brew-swilling assbags. There's also the dialoge itself- I swear, there are more instances of the word 'fuck' in this movie than in the last three porno movies I've watched combined. (And I watch some FILTHY porn, y'all.) Also, the movie is less-than-sensitive in how Sam the transsexual is portrayed- she comes off as more a campy stereotype than an actualized person, but then, the same is true of every other character in the film, with the possible exception of Sarah. Then there's the rape scene itself; rather than a nice, tasteful, implied rape, director Ryan Nicholson treats us to about fifteen minutes of graphic, violent sexual assault, the perpetrators laughing like hyenas the whole time. It felt rather like an excessive, heavyhanded method of killing pathos for Steve & Co. Perhaps the goal was to drive home how horrific an experience Lisa underwent, but it made me intensely uncomfortable. (I prefer my brutal assaults to be free of psychosexual contamination, thank you.)
Now, don't get the impression that I don't like this movie. There are some real selling points, too- for instance, the deaths are pretty gooey and intense, and while the effects were done on an obvious budget, they're pretty damned good despite it. The killer's costume/mask is pretty corny (pretty much a bowling ball bag with eyeholes cut out), but that actually works for it- nobody runs away when they see a dude with a bowling ball bag on his head, so when he whips out a sharpened pin, it takes the victim as a complete surprise. Which brings us to the best, funniest character in the movie- Wax-O-Matic, the wisecracking, sadistic ball-polishing machine! You have to listen carefully, because sometimes Waxy's lines are hard to hear, but that damn machine's easily got the funniest lines in the movie. (After AJ's face gets polished off, Wax-O-Matic quips about how fruity he looks in his pink shirt.) And at the end of it all, there are some twists that actually took me by surprise- not an easy task, Mr. Genre-Savvy that I am. The killer is NOT easily identified, and with good reason. To say any more would spoil some great surprises, so I'll let you find out for yourself.
All in all, Gutterballs is a bit of a grab-bag- there's a lot to like about it, but you have to slog through some truly painful acting and characterization before you get to the good stuff. If you've got the balls for it (a har har har), though, and you don't mind some graphic, nonconsentual sex with your murder, then here you'll find an interesting little film.
Just don't believe the hype about Canadians being nice. Mess with us and we'll fuck you in the eye with a sharpened bowling pin.