Gutterballs DVD Review
Written by ZigZag
DVD released by TLA Releasing
Written and Directed by Ryan Nicholson
2009, Region 0/NTSC, 95 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on January 27th, 2009
Alastair Gamble as Steve
Mihola Terzic as Sarah
Nathan Witte as Jamie
Candice Lewald as Lisa
Dan Ellis as The Janitor
Two rival bowling teams face off in a challenge that will ultimately declare one team better than the other. The goal is simple, but when tempers flare the result is anything but. A fight breaks out, and brings an unbalanced set of repercussions: one bowler suffers a broken foot while another is beaten and repeatedly sodomized by a gang of pricks and a large bowling pin.
The very next night the teams are right back at the lanes. Their rivalry never seems to end, until the masked killer, known only as BBK (Bowling Ball Killer) knocks them down like pins in a… well you get it.
Gutterballs is a film that dares you not to like it, and I am willing to take that dare. A ravenous internet fan base exists for this film, as witnessed in the generous special thanks that fill the closing credits of the feature (listing almost every website that has given coverage). I hope this movie is not lost in the sea of hype that surrounds it, as I do believe it is worth seeing, but I do not believe that it deserves all the praise it has received either.
The film is offensive in the amount of energy spent trying to offend the audience. So much time is spent ignoring the dialogue, character development and basic plot structure that it is a shame to think of what this movie could have been. The basic formula is identifiable, but the script seems more concerned with sodomy jokes than suspense. Camp value is the first victim when the audience is introduced to a dozen characters that could never co-exist, and the majority of the cast members follow the "better acting through profanity" approach.
Director Ryan Nicholson (Live Feed) has improved as a filmmaker, but the majority of the credit belongs to his second unit crew (Jay Gavin and Jordon Miller) for providing some beautiful shots and an opening credit sequence that rides the "giallo" bus to Elm Street. To his credit Nicholson points out many of these shots during the commentary. The film is not just an homage to '80s horror, as Nicholson has also cribbed from the classy rape cinema of the past, and is thoughtful enough to include a few light jokes during the film's eight-minute gang rape scene.
The film soars on its willingness to satisfy the gorehound audience, and they will not be disappointed. The special effects are solid for the majority of the show, with only the occasional clunker. The director has served as a makeup artist on several mainstream high budget features, and it shows. The work deserves the spotlight it is given and has earned the film an extra star for this review.
Nudity has been a staple for the genre for quite some time, and here is where Gutterballs takes the extra step. In order to stand on the shoulders of better filmmakers, Nicholson has opted to include penetration shots in his movie. Are they necessary? Not really.
The 1980s were a special time for horror fans, filled with countless entries in the stalk-and-slash genre. The films followed a standard pattern and usually fell into one of the following categories: the holiday / anniversary killer, location vengeance (i.e. campground or college campus) or simply the random woods killer. All of these movies shared many traits including horrible acting, copious nudity, a masked killer and inventive murder set pieces.
These films also fought and lost battles with the MPAA ratings board. Many best remembered for their violence are considered tame by today's standards. It is here that Gutterballs excels: the filmmakers are able to pay tribute to the movies they grew up on, while simultaneously including everything that was censored from the originals.
Unlike the low-budget filmmakers of the 1980s, contemporary artists have more affordable tools at their disposal. They face a more lenient ratings system and have the opportunity to release a film unrated on home video. The fact is Nicholson had a chance to make a statement with his nudity that would complement the gore elements, and instead has squandered this opportunity by choosing to make a noisy joke of the medium.
With a stronger script, and a tighter leash on some first-time actors, I believe he can hit the mark Gutterballs is aiming for. It is worth checking out for the enthusiasm that was put into making it and maintaining the energy level through to the senseless conclusion.
Video and Audio:
The picture is presented in the original 1:78.1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions. Blacks are solid and colors are rich, although there is some minor bleeding.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is nice, but a bit front heavy. Some dialogue comes across muddy and occasionally out of sync, but this has more to do with the source material. The soundtrack on this release is fine, but not as enjoyable as the print leaked online that was filled with expensive and catchy copyrighted tunes.
TLA has provided some solid entertainment in the supplemental materials. The disc kicks off with a director's commentary track that is informative and entertaining. Nicholson manages to come off simultaneously pleased and slightly bored with the results.
Next comes a 42 minute behind the scenes doc that is thorough and well assembled. Many aspects of the production are covered and give credit to the hard working crew.
A teaser trailer is present as is a gallery of 18 stills.
There is a good movie within Gutterballs, but the audience has to be willing to endure the dozen or so assholes that fill the cast. This film isn't as great or as terrible as some would suggest, but it comes close to sucking balls from time to time.