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Ghost Canyon

'Gutterballs: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2008) 2020 / Unearthed Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: 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.

Blu-ray Verdict: 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 ideas - 'Grindhouse,' 'Hatchet,' and 'Doomsday' have all sought to emulate classics from the less respected side of cinema - but, 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 realize 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!

However, and as I have already mentioned, 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 F-bomb's are dropped @ 500+ times!)

Also, much of the humor 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 (in another 20+ years) to become a cult favorite amongst those film fans that like their horror extremely depraved with a warped sense of fun.

Two bits of fun trivia are that the phone number the killer calls for the bowling alley is 976-3845, which is '976-EVIL' (1988), another 80s slasher movie!

And the producers of the film agreed to base their promotional campaign after the 1980 cult classic 'Maniac' (1980). This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via a brand new Blu-ray (1080p) HD presentation and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary with Direction Ryan Nicholson
Behind The Balls: Making of Gutterballs
Photo Gallery
Pin-Etration Edition