Monday, May 30, 2011

Gutterballs (Ryan Nicholson, 2008)

Welcome to the Xcalibur Bowling Centre: Come for the wisecracking ball waxing machines, stay for the unsolicited genital reconstruction surgery. Taking place in the neon-adorned confines of a bowling alley, Gutterballs, let's not pussyfoot around, is grisly, vulgar, and totally abhorrent. A splatter film, a slasher flick, and a sex comedy all rolled into one (you might as well throw in "sports movie" while you're at it), this repugnant yet campy undertaking, written and directed Ryan Nicholson (Live Feed), lives up to its nasty reputation by employing a steady stream of gory murder scenes that revolve around items typically found lying around your average bowling alley (an attractive woman with shapely thighs is strangled with a pair of bowling shoe laces). However, it's also known–at least to me anyway–as the film where not a minute goes by without some hyperactive young person threatening to shove a foreign object up the poop chute of a friend or rival–or, in some rare cases, both simultaneously. Whether it be a knife, an arthritic monkey fist, an unfinished model airplane, a crutch, a beer bottle, an open umbrella, or Ernest Borgnine's dead brother's cock, it would seem that nothing is off limits when it comes to sticking stuff up someone's ass in this movie. Actually, who am I kidding? The bulk of the anal-based threats spew from the mouth of a nasty piece of work named Steve, the deranged ringleader of a hateful foursome of young men in tan-coloured pants. Peppering his sodomy-laced language with the word "fuck," and its close pal, "fucking," Steve represents the worst humanity has to offer in terms of grammar and diction. Hey, man, but a lot of folks like to insert the words "fuck" and "fucking" into their vocabulary, that doesn't necessarily make them bad people. Excellent point, while it's not a crime to flavour one's rectal lexicon with the occasional "fuck" or "fucking," it is, however, a crime to incite and participate in a vicious gang rape.

Two groups of teens, the preppy rapists and the alternative kids, are supposed to be getting set to bowl against one another at the Xcalibur Bowling Centre, but a fight breaks out between the aforementioned Steve (Alastair Gamble), leader of the preppy rapists, and Jamie (Nathan Witte), the de facto president of the alternative kids, over the treatment of Sam (Jimmy Blais), a heavy-set transwoman. The brawl puts an end to the evening's bowling festivities (the two combatants have sustained serious injuries), but a date for a re-match is agreed upon, and the two groups go their separate ways. Well, one of them, Lisa (Candice Lewald), a leggy brunette in a skimpy pink skirt covered in white polka dots, realizing that she has forgotten her purse inside, goes back to retrieve it. Unfortunately, the preppy rapists ambush her in the arcade and gang rape her.

Lead by Steve, the attack, which, to no-one's surprise, culminates with a bowling pin being used in an highly unorthodox manner, goes on for an agonizingly long period of time as far as on-screen gang rapes goes. The only positive to come out of this lengthy sequence is the knowledge that the perpetrators will be horribly mutilated in the not-so distant future. Speaking of which, fast-forward to the following night, where the two gangs are back at the Xcalibur and ready to bowl. Along with Sam, the heavy-set transvestite, and Jamie, the hip hopper, alternative kids, Sarah (Mihola Terzić), the new waver; Cindy (Stephanie Schacter), the punk rocker (her store-bought fishnet pantyhose suffocating her tender thighs); Ben (Jeremy Beland), the headbanger; and Dave (Scott Alonzo), the hipster, show up at the same time as preppy rapists, A.J. (Nathan Dashwood), pink shirt with the collar flipped up, and Joey (Wade Gibb), pink shirt sans collar. Drowning in a downpour of vulgar insults and petty threats, the alternative kids and the two preppy rapists grab their bowling shoes from "the janitor" (Dan Ellis), a gruff fella who allows the teens to bowl after hours, and prepare to face off with one another on the alley's nightclub-inspired lanes.

Wearing two bodacious floozies on each arm, Julia (Danielle Munro) and Hannah (Saraphina Bardeaux), Steve, who, on top of the floozies, is sporting a cast on his foot (a bowling ball was dropped on it during the melee), saunters into the bowling centre like nothing happened (well, he saunters as good as anyone walking with the aide of crutches and floozies can saunter). Arriving just after Steve and his floozies, Jamie and a surprisingly non-hospitalized Lisa enter the Xcalibur; a preppy rapist named Patrick (Trevor Gemma) has also arrived, but I didn't see who he came with.

With all the players accounted for, an unseen entity in the form of the initials "BBK" makes its appearance on the bowling alley's state-of-the-art scorecard just as the first ball is about to be rolled. Unsure of what its means exactly, the alternative kids and the preppy rapists ignore its presence and begin to bowl.

Screaming incoherent obscenities with a steadfast forcefulness, Steve's desire for someone to get him a "fucking beer" is the only line of dialogue he utters that made any sense. While the non-beer-related bile that comes out of his noxious gob is just a litany of banal profanity, his quest for a beer drives the narrative of the film. Ordering Julia, a lovely peroxide blonde in a snakeskin dress, to "get me a fucking beer, you drunk cunt," the statuesque floozy meets Dave, the alternative kid who dresses like Duckie from Pretty in Pink, at the bar. For some inexplicable reason, the two seem to hit off, and both agree that urinating in Steve's beer is the correct course of action.

The righteous action moves to the men's washroom (the ideal place for one to dispense amber-coloured fluid), where Dave pees into Steve's beer bottle. Oozing a substance of a different kind, Julia, not one to let an opportunity to engage in some grimy lavatory sex pass her by, advances on Dave's preoccupied member with a sultry grace. Sheepishly asking him what his favourite year is while removing her bra, the two of them drop to the filthy floor (her pink thong is forcibly extricated from its fleshy prison with a quick yanking motion) and begin performing simultaneous fellatio and cunnilingus on one another. While dining on her wrinkled plateau, Dave can't help but notice that her labia smells like roses, which I thought was mildly touching (it's nice to know that romance isn't completely dead in the Gutterballs universe).

Since both their mouths are awash with each other's genitals, Dave and Julia fail notice the dark figure wearing a bowling bag on their head lurking over them. Choking Julia with Dave's erect boy salad and smothering Dave with Julia's inflamed girl biscuit, BBK earns his first strike by dispatching these two, and since they took down two pins/people at once, it counts as two on their scorecard. Yeah, you heard right, every time BBK kills someone, a menacing-looking skull and crossbones icon appears beside their name, which is accompanied by a cool electronic flourish.

While Steve wonders where his "fucking beer" is, Sam, the heavy-set transvestite, decides to freshen up in the ladies room after a catty conversation about her nonexistent menstrual cycle leaves her feeling somewhat flustered. Now I don't want to go into much detail about what happens next, but let's just say BBK is about to perform some bathroom stall elective surgery on a more sensitive than usual part of the male anatomy. As you would expect, I'm still in the process of erasing the image of a penis being turned into a makeshift vagina from my mind. Anyway, what's really disturbing is the fact that none of the preppy rapists have been murdered yet.

Stealing scenes from its human co-stars with a vocoder-assisted ease, the Wax-O-Matic automated bowling ball waxer was a wonder to behold. ("Improve traction, impress your friends," it says in its disco-friendly robot voice.) Tucked away in the corner of the bowling alley, the lippy gizmo likes to taunt and ridicule those who wanna get their balls waxed. A preppy rapist in sunglasses (if I was forced to pick a favourite amongst the preppy rapists, it would definitely be the one who wears sunglasses) looked like he was about to fall victim to BBK, or the Wax-O-Matic itself, but other than getting his ball scratched, it was merely a fake-out. The actual conflict between man and machine takes place when another preppy rapist finds himself standing before the sardonic appliance. Tired of watching a veritable cavalcade of people who had nothing to do with the gang rape stabbed and asphyxiated, it was nice to see a preppy rapist finally buy it for a change. And, oh, man, does he ever buy it. The sound of his face being ground down to a bloody stump by the Wax-O-Matic was music to my ears.

You could tell that a lot of effort went into the execution of the various kills seen throughout Gutterballs, but I think the stellar work by costume designer, Dawn Grey, is the film's real crowning achievement. While I was impressed by the majority of the outfits worn in the film, the look sported by the alluring Mihola Terzić as Sarah, the coolest alternative kid, was absolutely breathtaking. Everything about it was perfect. The way her teal and cyan dress complimented her lacy white fingerless gloves was so stunning, that I nearly collapsed under the sheer weight of its compatibility; the white leggings paired with those dark pink socks were divine; her neon green earrings seemed to dangle in chic defiance of the crudity that surrounded her; and the pink bracelets and equally pink necklaces gave her look that extra bit of new wave pizazz.

The highlight of the entire outfit was definitely the three belts that clung to her delicate waist. Yellow, green, and pink, the hole-covered belts were never far from my mind as the film chugged along. Changing positions as they rested on the narrow region between her the ribs and hips on several occasions, the belts seemed to have a mind of their own. Yes, I'm acutely aware that belts can't think for themselves, and, as much as I would love to believe that her three belts were in fact sentient lifeforms, I'm afraid a large chunk of the credit has to go out to the terrific Mihola Terzić, who wore those belts with a fearless brand of multi-belt-wearing gusto. Standing in the glow of the black light, her crimped hair making an absolute mockery of the lesser hairstyles that surrounded her, Mihola looked like a Hrvatski princess as her sharp features cut through the neon haze of the Xcalibur Bowling Centre.

It's no wonder her friend, Cindy (Stephanie Schacter), the punk rocker with the juiciest thighs this side of Chilliwack, called her "the shit," Sarah's fashion backward aura seemed to have a strange, almost soothing effect on the people in her peer group. Of course, it didn't stop Steve from calling her a "stupid cunt" every five seconds. But then again, Steve calls everyone that, and I don't think he's been properly equipped with the tools necessary to appreciate a well put together new wave ensemble. While the preppy rapists try to belittle her by calling her "Rainbow Brite" (even the janitor at one point calls her "Strawberry Shortcake"), Sarah emerges as the film's strongest non-mechanical character. It also didn't hurt that it seemed like her entire body had been dipped into a giant vat of cotton candy.

Oh, and the soundtrack by Gianni Rossi and Patrick Coble was an electro lovers delight. I was particularly found of the music used during the opening and closing credits.


  1. Ryan Nicholson has amazing effects but he's beyond a fucktard when it comes to making a competent movie. The script is like something a thirteen year old would write to sound edgy and grown-up.

  2. A thirteen year-old?!? Nah, I'd say it more like a fourteen year-old. ;)

    Seriously, though, his next film should be totally fuck-free. Because, to be honest, I'm fucking exhausted.

  3. I have always considered watching this to see if it lives up to its reputation. Perhaps I'll just stick to memories of "Sorority Babes in the Slime-Ball Bowl-a-Rama" for my bowling/murder needs? Bless you for saving me from myself.

  4. No problem, D.W.

    Note to self: Create some Sorority Babes in the Slime-Ball Bowl-a-Rama-based memories for yourself in the not-so distant future.

  5. watched it because of this review... and it's an appalling low rent slice of trash.... I might have to buy a copy.
    P.S. Sorority Babes in the Slime-Ball Bowl-a-Rama is one of my fave bowling flicks... also see Roadhouse (1949)

  6. "Watched this because of this review." When I first read this line, I was like, uh-oh (this flick has the potential to cause some serious mental trauma). But then you said that you might have to buy a copy. Well, let's just say, I felt a little better after you said that. :)

  7. I watched this movie as well due to this review (alcohol softened the blow).

    Also wanted to say this is one of my absolute favorite blogs. My netflix queue has never been the same since I've been on here...

  8. I'm glad I could be of service, HUH. :)