Sophistication met utter crap the other night when my movie-watching Friday was a mash-up of Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones, immediately followed by... Gutterballs. I'm not even really sure what made me add Gutterballs to my queue in the first place, and it almost pains me to admit that I didn't regret it. That much.
(By the way, A Walk Among the Tombstones is really good.)
Two rival bowling teams meet at the alley after hours for a little healthy competition. But things turn bad after one game, when hottie Lisa is brutally gang raped by all four members of the opposing team. The next night, the bowling alley becomes a scene of equally brutal slaughter when a masked killer starts picking off all the players one by one.
This is a movie that I don't really know what to do with. As an extremely trashy, annoying, exploitation movie throwback, Gutterballs definitely succeeds, and almost rises beyond what it needs to do in order to live up to that reputation. Filmmaker Ryan Nicholson takes the typical rape/revenge exploitation plot, adds in the requisite over-the-top villains (the rapists, not the killer), peppers in other airhead characters to be fodder for the killer, and tops it all off with some ridiculously gory and equally exploitative kills. In a lot of ways, this setup worked for me. But there were a few things that took me out of the film's cheesy world that made me not completely love it for what it was.
All of the characters here are just gawd awful, as they should be. I didn't even really like any of the good guys, except maybe for Jamie and Lisa. Really, their stupid costuming was enough to make me not like these people. It's not even that the acting was bad - all of these guys were actually great at what they did and the people they were trying to portray. It's just that all these people are people that I wouldn't be able to stand being around. The true scene-stealers in terms of awfulness are of course Steve, AJ, and Joey - our three douchebaggy rapists. The fourth guy, Patrick, is the reluctant abuser which makes him slightly less douchebaggy than his friends. But only slightly. Steve must have seriously high blood pressure as he has a constant 'roid-rage attitude. Everything he says must be YELLED and every sentence he says must contain at least three uses of the word "fuck." But AJ, however, is just the worst. Again, props to the actor for his commitment, but OH MY GOODNESS. That laugh? That face he makes when he laughs? That popped collar??? I could not wait to see what kind of death this guy got.
Speaking of which. The gore in Gutterballs, I have to admit, was kind of amazing. There are truly some inventive and, like I said before, ridiculous kills, many of them bowling pin related. One person gets the worst eye-gouging I've ever seen with the sharpened end of a pin while another one just gets a pin shoved down their throat. Also with throats, there is a nice slashing and a strangling with the strings of a pair of bowling shoes. I can't even describe the first two deaths because they're just icky and you have to see it for yourself. Probably my favorite kill was the one involving the ball waxing machine (a machine for waxing BOWLING balls, just to be clear). Gutterballs also has what I am now calling the best shotgun death ever. One character gets a blast that hits him in the neck which makes his neck kind of explode, leaving his head to flop over to one side. One thing that was kind of pissing me off at first about these deaths was that all the good people were the ones dying, and that they were getting it just as bad, if not worse, than the rapists do later on. Nevertheless, the gore and effects in Gutterballs is actually really impressive and I quite enjoyed it.
The rape scene confused me a little. Sometimes it is actually shot the way it needs to be - from the victim's point of view, showing the harsh reality of the crime and the savagery of the offenders. But then the other half of the time, it is shot in a manner more along the lines of exploitation. There are many shots of Lisa's exposed, perfect breasts, and her long, slender legs on Steve's shoulders when he rapes her. So they somehow managed to sexualize and exploit the scene, and make it sympathetic at the same time. One really atrocious thing they do in this scene is feature these horrible, non-realistic sound effects for I'm assuming comedic purposes - because it's funny to rape a girl with a bowling pin.
Nevertheless, Gutterballs is pretty much exactly what it wanted to be. A completely crazy and kitschy exploitation film with all the sex, nudity, and gore that you could possibly stand from such a film. It's got real boobs, fake penises, buckets of blood, and according to Wikipedia, 625 uses of the word "fuck." Break out the popcorn and indulge in something truly trashy for your next movie night. And be prepared for Gutterballs 2: Balls Deep, which I believe they are currently working on!