Gutterballs (2008)
By: Devon B. on May 4, 2009  | 
DVD
TLA (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 Enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 96 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Ryan Nicholson
Starring: Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte, Wade Gibb, Candice Lewald
Screenplay: Ryan Nicholson
Country: Canada
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
When I reviewed Ryan Nicholson's debut feature Live Feed, I said the movie was very gory but never really seemed to know what tone it was aiming for. There were still enough quality elements that when I learned Nicholson's follow up film Gutterballs was a take on 80s slashers I became hugely interested because, as I have proven irrefutably in past reviews, the 80s was the era when horror was best and the slasher sub genre is the most intelligent of all film styles. The tongue in cheek posters, paying homage to genre classics, had me very eager to see the film, and I was expecting one of the most excessive slashers of all time. I was not let down, though that's not always because of overly bloody deaths. The fact the DVD starts with a certificate stating all models were 18 or over at the time of filming may give you some clue as to what's coming. Gutterballs quickly lets the viewer know it's gonna be outrageous by making Linnea Quigley's bend over and distract the shopkeep routine from Night of the Demons seem like a sequence from a children's film.

Two rival bowling teams, one featuring a tranny midway through the feminisation process, have an altercation at a bowling alley. This messes up their game, so it's decided they will be allowed to bowl after hours the following night. The idea that the two squabbling teams would be allowed in after hours to cause more trouble is just one example of the zany ridiculousness of the plot. The female characters have unusual motivations and the males are all so over the top you may mistake them for Sylvester Stallone, though there's no arm wrestling in Gutterballs. Anyway, while leaving, one of the girls realises she's forgotten her bag, and goes back into the alley only to be gang raped by the rival team in an extremely graphic, prolonged scene. Despite her assault, she returns to the alley the following night for the game, but before long a masked killer begins striking more than either team. At least the killer is nice enough to leave the tranny exactly where he wanted to be.

To get the negative out of the way, Gutterballs is unfortunately a bit on the slow side, but it is a throwback to 80s slashers, and there's a lot of down time in most of those.

From the opening credits, a parody of Freddy making his glove in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, it's clear Gutterballs wants to make you laugh. The killer is wearing an upside down bowling bag for a mask, one character is killed with shoelaces, and there are plenty of groan inducing jokes being thrown around by characters. The deaths will often go for the gross out gag, with one scene rivalling Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand in the genital mutilation stakes. Perhaps the most unique death doesn't involve any blood; this scene is mentioned in many reviews but I don't want to spoil it. I will just say if you're importing Gutterballs, be aware customs in your country may disapprove. When the deaths are gory the bloodshed is pretty good, especially considering the budget, and the FX are often elaborate.

But Gutterballs isn't all about mirth. There're a few moments of unflinching brutality, like the aforementioned rape scene influenced by both The Accused and I Spit On Your Grave. After the silliness that preceded it, this scene almost felt out of place, and I thought perhaps Nicholson was again having trouble balancing between the realistic and the silly as with Live Feed. However once the rape was over (and it does take a good long while to finish), the film resumes its ridiculous set ups and executions… until out of nowhere a simple beating with a bowling pin becomes horrifically violent, as opposed to the violent horrors the viewer has been watching up to then. Instead of feeling like Nicholson had lost control of the film, this time I was aware he was playing with the audience. There's been some controversy over his motivations with the rape scene, but I can tell you what his motivation was: To fuck you up! Gutterballs is a completely uncompromising film; it lets you have your fun at watching people get naked and get killed, but it also keeps you fully aware of what violence, and sexual violence in particular, mean in the real world. It takes a deft hand to make a scene with a bowling bag headed killer come off serious, particularly after the concept has been laughed at all through the film, so if you wrote Nicholson off with Live Feed because he seemed uncertain what he was doing, let me assure you he's found his footing. The last movie I saw that swapped so well back and forth between sickening and splatstick was Ichi the Killer. Ichi is the better movie, naturally, but Gutterballs is a nice bit of deliriously oversexed ultra-violence.
Video
Gutterballs looks a bit saturated due to the film looking process, and there is some grain in darker scenes, but is otherwise clear and clean.
Audio
Unfortunately the soundtrack isn't great. The 5.1 mix is a bit quiet, sports the rare background noise or electronic glitch, and some dialogue is lost in the mix. There's also a 2.0 mix, unlisted on either the slick or DVD menus as near as I can tell. It's a louder track, but sadly isn't any clearer, so I still had trouble with a few lines being muddled. Both tracks feature the 80s style score. This is both a good thing, because it feels more like the 80s, and a bad thing, because it sounds more like the 80s. While the audio presentation leaves a bit to be desired, I doubt there'll be another edition anytime soon.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with a making of; a commentary; the teaser trailer; a stills gallery; and trailers for the Danger After Dark line, Storm, The Wedding Party, Rapturious, and three trailers for the Paki zombie movie Hell's Ground. The making of runs about 42 minutes and is mostly interesting. Gutterballs is fittingly referred to as a cartoon for adults, and the rape scene is discussed, but the making of does detour into fluff zone when those involved start patting backs. The commentary features Nicholson, and while most of the stuff I cared about was covered in the making of, Nicholson has the opportunity to go into more depth here.

There's also an Easter egg. In the features menu press right on "Gutterballs Teaser Trailer" to highlight a square. Press enter to see the trailer for Piglet.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
While Gutterballs isn't a total success due to a few lags in pacing it's a solid film with some surprises, even for 80s slasher fans who've wasted their life…er, I mean, spent their time well by pursuing even the most obscure bodycount movies. As a pastiche there're some hugely amusing gags, as a stalk and slash there's plenty of grue, and for perverts there's quite a bit of nudity – both male and female. If that sounds like a good time definitely pick up a copy, just be warned it's not all fun and games.

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