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Gutterballs (2008)

Written and Directed by Ryan Nicholson

Produced by Dan Walton

Starring Alastair Gamble, Nathan Witte, Dan Ellis, Candace Lewald, Scott Alonzo, Saraphina Bardeaux, Jeremy Beland, Jimmy Blais, Nathan Dashwood, Trevor Gemma, Wade Gibb, Danielle Munro, Stephanie Schacter, Mihola Terzic

Reviewed by Robert Long II ©2008

A horror movie set in a bowling alley? Can this work? The answer is a resounding YES. Every frame of this Canadian motion picture is Ryan Nicholson’s (of LIVE FEED fame) love letter to 80’s era slashers. The story is set in a midnight disco-bowling alley where two teams are battling it out to see who comes out on top. The antagonist team is lead by a jackass named Steve (Alastair Gamble) while the protagonist team is lead by a gent named Jamie (Nathan Witte). Overshadowing this event is that a brutal, sadistic rape took place at this bowling alley the night before. Now, someone who goes by the name BBK has locked both teams inside the bowling alley with hardcore thoughts of revenge…

The rough cut of this movie pulls no punches. If your cup of tea is extreme gore, nudity, and graphic (oral) sex, you have come to the right movie. The setting of the bowling alley works incredibly well, and the killer – BBK – pulls off some surprisingly well-thought out bowling-themed murders, including decapitation, eye-gouging, castration – just to name a few. Look at it this way; the body count is 13.

What works in its favor for this movie is that it has a story – a really decent story – behind it. The rape scene – while not quite as graphic as the one in “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE” – was still very brutal and unpleasant to watch; this is not a slam, but a kudos to Ryan Nicholson; it is an unpleasant subject and SHOULD be hard to watch. On the other side of the coin the comic relief actually works well for a change; there is a dead on homage to John carpenter’s Halloween that is played serious, yet it is hysterical to watch! The movie does not shy away from nudity and sex; there is a graphic oral sex scene in the movie. While I was surprised by it, I was not offended by it and it worked well in the context of the story. The soundtrack features songs people have actually heard of (there is music by bands Loverboy and April Wine). While this film is probably low budget – it is not poverty row. The ending actually surprised me and was well done. Finally, actress Candice Lewald is breathtakingly beautiful.

It is not a perfect movie however. Characters cuss almost every sentence, and the effect of the words lose any luster or impact very fast. The cast did a good job, but I had a hard time believing these “kids” were just out of high school; the actors were anywhere from 19 to 29, and they look it. What is funny is that actor Dan Ellis (who plays the janitor) was only 36-37 at the time of filming, and the rest of the characters keep referring to him as “old man.” Also, the mixture of comedy, brutality, mean-spiritedness, seriousness, and going over the top does not always gel well in this movie. The tone comes off uneven at times.

Overall all I totally recommend this film to any horror/slasher fans out there. Imperfections aside, it is a fun, entertaining movie. It has been a favorite at horror conventions and had a successful run at I have heard that there may be a limited release of this rough version. I plan on picking it up as soon as it hits DVD.

3.5 out of 5 stars!