If there were any question as to whether there are any crazy-ass film makers out there who don’t give a DAMN if it offends you, one needn’t look any further than Mr. Ryan Nicholson. His second feature, “Gutterballs”, is a workshop on bad taste and had me laughing my ass off with every gruesome scenario he throws at you. The film revolves around 2 rival bowling teams (!) who are made up of a sordid cast of characters that includes rapist frat boys, sluts, pre-op trannies, a long haired rock and roller, a slutty punk rock chick, the pre-requisite “brotha”, and a weird maintenance guy who runs the bowling alley.
After one of their late night bowling matches, the 2 teams end up in a fight that ends up in a bloody mess. As a result the frat boys, exact their revenge by attacking one of the girls and take turns having their way with her, as well as, throwing in a little assault for good measure (intercourse with a bowling pin, anyone? The big end?!). The next night, when the big match is suppose to throw down, she’s there! She’s not acting herself, and the frat boys can’t figure out whether or not she’s snitched, but the guess is she’d never go to the cops about it, so they show up (with more sluts in tow, I might add) prepared for a night of bowling, cussing, fucking, and drinking-in no particular order. What no one knows, is that everyone in the bowling alley is in for some serious shit…their night is about to get torn to pieces.
As the games ensue, their is a strange name registered on the bowling score screen under the initials “BBK” (Bowling Bag Killer…duh!), which is chalked up as a glitch in the system. From here on, things get messy. It’s a really simple concept: Go somewhere to have sex, you’re going get killed. Hell, walk away from the group, you’re going to die. It’s almost beautiful! Ironically, the film’s story sets each character up in the realm of completely unlikeable and as each meets their horrendous demise, you’re clapping with glee as you see blood, entrails, and clothes fly! Couple all of this with an ending that could’ve only been inspired but those absurdly insane movie from The Deuce, and you’ve got yourself an exploitation film that was made for the grindhouse.
Ryan Nicholson’s background in effects has lead to his 100 mph approach to the gore and violence in his movies. Gutterballs isn’t something I’m just going to recommend to the casual horror fan, because frankly, they tend to be pussies. Instead, what you’ve got with this film is a movie that will appeal to the hardcore gorehounds, perverts, and fans of the sleaziest of sleazy grindhouse cinema. Essentially, it’s an over the top, black comedy that’s chock full of nastiness. People murdered by way of sexual positions, faces melted and torn off by bowling ball waxing machines, dicks cut off-you name it, they did it. The greatest part about all of it? It’s intentionally this chaotic. Every character in the film is a self-important asshole and they all scream over top each through the entire film. It reminds me a lot of Frank Henenlotter and John Waters early stuff. Lots of shouting and profanity strewn about by a cast of heinous people, equals magic in my book.
The film brought about memories of films like “Touch of Evil” (one of Fulci’s misunderstood gems), and oddball drive-in films like “Cindy & Donna”, with it’s nasty combination of the blackest of black humor and over-sexed, insane people getting meeting up with the consequences of their actions. The cast did a wonderful job of channeling into the mean-spirited sides of the characters and inflating them. It’s a hilarious homage to the insanity of a bygone era in film that plays out with effective results. The film is shot well, looks great, and it really comes as no surprise that the effects are top notch. I was laughing out loud at how gonzo this film got the further it went on. As I stated earlier, Nicholson doesn’t care if you’re offended. He’s going to put it all out there and pretty much make the audience deal with it. You’ve got 2 choices: laugh at the craziness or run screaming.
Writer/Director Ryan Nicholson showed us what he was about with his first film, “Live Feed’, but with Gutterballs he strips away all convention and decency by going straight for the jugular. In fact, if his output continues down this path, we may have found ourselves the missing link between the Italian gore kings and the modern horror film. It’s pretty safe to say that Ryan Nicholson is my new hero, and if you fancy yourself a true gorehound and lover of exploitation/extreme cinema, then I suggest you take Gutterballs for a spin…because it looks like Nicholson’s company, Plotdigger Films, is the new face of gory insanity!