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A brutally sadistic rape leads to a series of bizarre gory murders during a midnight disco bowl-a-rama at a popular bowling alley. One by one, players of two teams meet blood-drenched gruesome deaths at the hand of a black bowling-gloved masked killer. This alley runs red with blood by sunrise. Written by
Fun, 80s style exploitation from the director of Torched.
***This review is of the 'balls-out' uncut edition of Gutterballs***
Ryan Nicholson, the man responsible for the excellent, ultra-sick rape/revenge short Torched, returns to that same genre for Gutterballs, this time delivering a full-length feature that draws inspiration from the gory slasher flicks of the 80s. It's not the first film in recent years to look to the rich past of exploitation movies for ideasGrindhouse, Hatchet, and Doomsday have all sought to emulate 'classics' from the less respected side of cinemabut, although it is not without its drawbacks (more about that later), it is Nicholson's offering that comes the closest to capturing that authentic vintage vibe.
Set in a bowling alley after closing hours, Gutterballs sees a psycho named BBK (short for Bowling Bag Killer) hacking and slashing his way through the members of two rival bowling teams who are taking part in a midnight grudge match. Could the appearance of BBK have anything to do with the vicious gang-rape that took place in the very same bowling alley the previous evening? Well, duh!!!
Nicholson, a director who has proved in the past that he is not afraid to explore the extreme depths of bad taste in order to realise his twisted visions, once again attempts to prove that he considers almost nothing too sick to capture on film. The gang-rape scene is the first evidence that this film is going for broke in the nastiness stakes: it's a truly sickening and relentless attack that is genuinely hard to stomach, but it sure makes you want to see the perpetrators get what they deserve (which, of course, they do).
And if the gang-rape isn't enough to convince you that Nicholson means business, then the first few killings should make matters crystal clear: a couple are killed whilst performing a graphic '69', and a transvestite is choked on a bowling pin and given a messy make-shift sex change (all in sickeningly bloody close-up!). Once those scenes are over, there's no denying that Gutterballs is a truly 'balls-out' horror film.
As I have already mentioned, however, the film is not without its weaknesses. The pacing of the film is rather poor, with the first half lacking gore (most of the juicy stuff is saved for the last half hour), and many scenes are way too talky. The cast seemingly improvise much of their dialogue, causing the action to frequently get bogged down in a deluge of inane chat littered with expletives (surely this film holds some kind of record for the amount of times the F-bomb is dropped). Also, much of the humour is rather juvenile, with a goofy, talking, ball-waxing machine being particularly grating (at least until it removes one character's face!).
Improvements could have also been made to the end of the film, where we finally find out the true identity of BBK: it's a rather over-complicated denouement that quickly becomes confusing.
Still, even with these negative points, Gutterballs is a unique and entertaining piece of indie sleaze destined to become a cult favourite amongst those film fans that like their horror extremely depraved with a warped sense of fun.
Since I gave Torched 8/10, and slightly preferred that film's more nihilistic approach, I will rate Gutterballs a still-very-decent 7.5/10 (which I am happy to round up to 8 for IMDb anyway, 'cos the film has a cool rock soundtrackApril Wine fans, raise your fists!).
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