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January 14, 2009



Ryan Nicholson - 2008
TLA Releasing Region 1 DVD

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TLA's vampire

The best part about Gutterballs DVD isn't the movie. For me, the trailers to TLA's "Danger after Dark" were the highlight. I don't know what film the above vampire is from but as soon as I find out, it's on my impossibly long list of films I want to see. Certainly, Storm, which Michael Guillen had written about previously, is one I want to catch. The Pakistani zombie story, Hell's Ground also looks like fun. The compilation trailer is as good as the one for the late, great, Tartan Asia Extreme, where dozens of great moments are taken out of context, strung together, and you want to see . . . everything!

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Hell's Ground

Well, maybe not quite everything. And that's the problem I had with Gutterballs. I was with someone last Summer who reacted with extreme anger and hostility when I began watching The Free Will, the study of a rapist and the consequences of his actions. From her point of view, the depiction of rape constituted an endorsement of the act. I didn't feel that way, and made of point of having a female film critic review the extra DVD I received as a means of knowing if generalizations could be made based on gender.

Gutterballs tries to play it both ways, critical of rape, yet using it as a convenient plot point to let the audience get a good view of Candice Lewald's breasts. What is suppose to pass as social commentary is a rivalry between four fratboy types who are bowling against a team of outsiders which includes a young black man. The rivalry is escalated when the black man, played by Nathan Witte, comes to the defense of the transexual friend of a trio of girls. Lewald is raped as revenge for the humiliation of the lead frat boy.

As might be inferred from the title, Gutterballs takes place in a bowling alley. In the manner of slasher films from Eighties, the kids are dispatched, one or two at a time, by a killer wearing a bowling ball bag on his head. Unlike those films of past times, Gutterballs is more sexually explicit and much more violent. As far as creating gory special effects, Ryan Nicholson has proven himself to be quite talented. It could also be that someone like myself was never the intended audience for a film like this, with its extended scenes of mutilation and carnage. I did admittedly find a scene involving a profanity spewing machine that waxes bowling balls funny. One may want to compare Gutterballs to Tokyo Gore Police. Both films are works by men who established themselves in creating horrific make-up and special effects body parts for other filmmakers. While Tokyo Gore Police has moments of artistry plus the advantage of Eihi Shiina, in both films, copious geysers of blood frequently substitute for effective story-telling.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at January 14, 2009 12:45 AM