Deathgasm Review & Moviehooker Exclusive Interview With Writer/Director Jason Lei Howden

Death By Dildos, Chainsaw Sodomy, And The Power Of Heavy Metal


Deathgasm is the directorial début from New Zealander, Jason Lei Howden and it has been rocking out to sold-out festivals around the world. Having previously worked as a visual FX artist on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Avengers (2012) and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), Jason is now unleashing his instant classic heavy metal splatter-fest in cinemas and on VOD on October 2nd.

You’d be right to wonder how a movie that has yet to be on widespread release could already be considered a classic. But by outwardly paying tribute to vintage fan favourites like Evil Dead, Demons, Bad Taste (Dead Alive) and Trick or Treat while adding a twist of the wide-eyed goofiness of high concept buddy comedies like Bill & Ted or the Monster Squad, Deathgasm has all the right ingredients to be considered a modern-day-horror-comedy masterpiece in its own right.

The story revolves around Brodie (played by Milo Cawthorne). When his meth head mother is arrested (for trying to give Santa Claus a blowjob in a public area!), he is forced to move in with his disapproving, hardcore Christian aunt and uncle. Naturally, it plays out like a fish out of water scenario until he makes a like-minded friend in the form of Zakk (James Blake) and the plot gathers pace when they decide to form the titular metal band, Deathgasm.

When they accidentally open the gates of hell,  it’s up to our loser heroes to destroy the demon threat using chainsaws, car engines, anal beads, dildos and the power of metal.

It’s every bit as fun as it sounds and makes for a ton of gratuitous violence, gore and an irreverent spirit that is all too rare these days. It’s perfect entertainment for entry-level horror fans looking for something fresh and original while also pleasing for old school video nasty cronies. And even if you’re not a fan of heavy metal music, there’s so much to love about Deathgasm that you’ll still find it hugely enjoyable.

And now ladies and gentlemen, Moviehooker had a chance to ask director/writer of Deathgasm some questions for an interview. He very kindly answered all of them in full. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Jason Lei Howden

MH – Deathgasm wasn’t always going to about heavy metal, when did you decide to add the power of metal to the story?

JLH – The title “Deathgasm” came first, it just sounded vaguely offensive and a cool name for a splatter film. But I had no story at first, just the name. Eventually, I had the idea to write myself into the story, but myself when I was a 16-year-old Metalhead. That informed much of the imagery and comedy, as well as some of the gore scenes, adding homages to Cannibal Corpse’s “Hammer Smashed Face” and the Metallica “Metal Up The Ass” album.

MH – Tell us a bit about your young days as a metalhead in NZ and how it inspired part of the story?

JLH – There are many references and easter eggs pertaining to my days as a Metalhead, and most of them only my old friends would get. But I hope that the characters come across as authentic because I spent a great deal of time trying to get the costumes, art department, and music to reflect genuine Metal fans, especially those from the early 1990s.

MH – The music plays a huge part in the story, how did you get the bands involved with Deathgasm and did you run into any difficulties?

JLH –  I worked hard to get a good mix of genres and bands on the soundtrack and I’m really proud of the music on the film. I approached them all personally and asked them if they wanted to be a part of our low-budget Heavy Metal Horror movie. Calling Norway from a hotel phone is damn expensive.

Some told us to piss off. Some artists were really keen but their record companies said no. Then, on the other hand, we had access to some great tracks that just didn’t suit the scenes. But, in the end, I think we found the perfect mix and I owe the bands everything because THEY ARE Deathgasm. We just wouldn’t have a movie without them.

MH – How did you find your leads?

JLH – We found Milo Cawthorne through auditioning, he was my favourite from the start. Kimberley Crossman was one of our most famous actors, she was on the New Zealand hospital soap opera Shortland Street for a while. Both of the actors already have a cult following from appearing on the Power Rangers TV series. The guys behind the masks are Japanese actors, but when they take off the masks they are New Zealand kids speaking with US accents! I’m a Power Rangers fan, so I got a huge kick out of that. The cast was fantastic and they worked so hard and never complained, even when they got their asses kicked by doing all their own stunts.

MH – I heard in an interview you did when promoting Deathgasm that one of the actors brought their own severed head from a previous movie to their audition ….how much did that help with his chances of bagging the role?

JLH – Immensely! Fortunately, Tim happened to be a great actor also. But his severed head gave him an edge over the other actors. If you want to act in low-budget horror I would recommend getting all of your body parts cast and made into props. We also nicked some rubber phalluses from TV production. So cast your junk too!

MH – Deathgasm and all its gore is a tribute to the video nasties, like The Evil Dead, Bad Taste, Trick Or Treat, Demons. The centre of the story is a bromance and focuses on losers saving humanity. This reminded me of classics like The Monster Squad and Bill and Ted- was it important for you to have social outcasts as the main heroes?

JLH – In all of my film projects, the reoccurring theme is a protagonist who is an underdog, freak or misfit. It’s something I love about cinema because unfortunately, that isn’t how the real world works. The rich and privileged can manipulate and control the poor, bad people get away with heartbreaking acts of violence. Movies are my escapism from the cruelty and injustice of the real world.

Films like Monster Squad and The Goonies were a big influence. I don’t know if you could make movies like that now though, everything is so PC. The kid’s movies of the 80s were edgy as fuck. Mouth mistranslating about BSDM and drug use to Rosalita? One-Eyed Willy? I still don’t know how they got away with that.

MH – Deathgasm has an impressive amount of blood (actually shocking how much there is) – do you guys know how much fake blood you used?

JLH – We used 80 litres, which is a good amount of life-juice on camera. But Peter Jackson’s splatter masterpiece Braindead (Dead Alive) used 300 litres, so I’m still aiming to top that high-score. Maybe then he will start making splatter-comedies again! We had a great blood and gore team. Tim Wells and Storm Mccracken went all out to try and get as much grue on screen, and they did an awesome job.

MH – You also said in another interview that some of the body parts used in Deathgasm are recycled body parts from The Evil Dead remake, that is pretty awesome, tell us how that happened

JLH – Through some contacts, we approached Roger Murray at the SPX Company Main Reactor. They had a bunch of leftover body parts and appliance makeup from various projects and were kind enough to open up their hearts, and their storage container to us. Team Deathgasm is all about recycling. 

MH – Death By Dildos…tell us how our two heroes ended up battling and slaying demons using  anal beads, vibrators, and large double dildos 

JLH – I don’t remember how that even started but I was trying to write crazy gore scenes and I hadn’t remembered seeing someone impaled by a sex toy before. But days before the shoot, a producer came up to me with a few really pitifully tiny looking sex toys and I got scared. I needed them to be HUGE, sphincter-worryingly massive. So I went to this underground gay sex shop and got the anal beads and black double-ender you see on screen. I’m willing to sell them on eBay if anyone is keen. They are still soaked in fake blood.

MH – You have worked as a visual FX artist on, The Avengers and two Hobbit films, how different was it writing and directing a feature-length?

JLH – I love VFX, the tools that are available to filmmakers these days are phenomenal. But I wanted Deathgasm to be more like the films of yesteryear, with crazy practical effects. I grew up reading about the adventures of Tom Savini and Rick Baker and wanted to be a part of that world.

So in many ways, it was about relieving the stress of the long hours I had spent in front of a computer screen and spend time on set with human beings.

MH – Any news on Blu-ray, soundtrack? can we expect a limited edition Deathgasm vinyl?

JLH – We have a limited theatrical run and VOD starting October the 2nd. I believe Blu-Ray is hitting the states in early 2016, head to our Facebook or Twitter for updates.

I just found out that Germany is going to post convert the movie, so you can go on to Amazon and preorder Deathgasm 3D! I can’t wait to see it, those dildos will look like they are comin’ at ya!

Death Waltz records are doing the vinyl, it will be a double gatefold LP with some insane original art. Deathgasm features the most METAL soundtrack in cinema history so if you are a Heavy Metal Horror fan I would snap that up because the stock will be limited.

Deathgasm will be released in cinema’s and on VOD on October 2nd via Dark Sky Films. UPDATE: a sequel has now been announced for the near future which has the glorious title of DEATHGASM 2: GOREMAGEDDON

About Dark Sky Films

Dark Sky Films is an independent film production and distribution label founded in 2008, working with emerging talent as well as established veterans to develop, package, produce and finance feature films and episodic television projects. Representing films from some of most talented directors working today, such as Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE INNKEEPERS, and Jim Mickle’s STAKE LAND, Dark Sky continues to identify original talent and projects to bring a vibrant slate of films to the world market, with such recent productions as WE ARE STILL HERE, DEATHGASM , APPLESAUCE and CHERRY TREE. | Follow them on twitter at @darkskyfilms


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