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Monday, June 21, 2021

Gutterballs (2008)

Before I begin it is important to know that for this review I watched my copy of Gutterballs that I purchased from the filmmaker when it was first released. This would be what they call the Balls-Out Uncut edition. I say this because I know the “normal” version of the movie that most people have access to has the hardcore penetration and some of the nudity cut out. More on that later, I just mention this so that if you understand the version you watch might not be the version that I’m reviewing.

The movie takes place entirely in a bowling alley in the eighties. We can tell that from the clothes and music. You have a group of preppies bowling against an assortment of oddballs. There are some ladies, a tranny, an athlete, a punk girl, and a musician. A big fight breaks out and afterwards the preppies trap one of the girls, Lisa, when she comes back for her purse. This leads to an unnecessarily brutal rape scene that goes on and on.

The next night everyone returns to the alley to finish the game that was interrupted by the fight. Lisa shows up clearly traumatized but not talking about what happened. We the audience know from a “gearing” up montage that someone has made a bunch of bowling themed weapons and made a mask out of a bowling ball bag. Not long after the victims arrive and start to pair off the killer gets to work picking them off one at a time. Eventually we are down to just a couple survivors when the big twist is revealed, and all is explained.

I don’t want to go any further and ruin the movie for you. I’m not going to recommend Gutterballs, especially not this version, but it might appeal to some folks out there. My issue with the movie is how explicit it is. We get a lot of genitals on the screen, both ladies and men. I’m not a prude but it does get excessive. I found myself wanting the movie to get onto the traditional slasher stuff rather than yet another sex scene where we see more than we need to. I know that director Ryan Nicholson was going for an exploitation vibe, but you can overdo that stuff. The rape scene is uncomfortable as it goes on forever and is more voyeuristic than it is making me angry at the antagonists.

The first kill has a woman, who is performing a sex act on camera, get choked out when her head is forced down and she isn’t allowed to come up for air. I suppose that is supposed to set the tone for the movie and it does. We get a lot more kills, though not as explicit, but many of which are sexual in nature. The language used in the movie is distracting as well. Every other word is an “F” bomb and if that isn’t enough there are all kinds of slurs tossed around as well. This isn’t helped by a cast that isn’t very good. The line delivery is clunky and the performances wooden. In the end Gutterballs feels like a flick that is trying too hard to be shocking and to “go there”.

I do have some nice things to say about the movie. The gore and kills are great. They manage to have a theme to the kills using bowling related items as the weapons. A bowling pin gets rammed down a throat, a sharpened pin is used on a few body orifices, a girl gets a couple bowling balls to the noggin’, another gets choked out with laces from bowling shoes, and a face ends up in a ball polisher. Toss in the mentioned death by sex and some shotgun action for a respectable twelve kills, most of them on screen! The execution is great as the camera lingers on some gooey stuff as faces are ground off and eyes gouged out. The best though is the exploding head and guts flopping out from the shotgun work. These are some great effects.

The movie has a decent soundtrack, though it is my understanding that it was all switched up after the release I got. So, results may vary for your viewing. I thought the twist at the end was decent, which is why I didn’t spoil it. I also thought that after a slow start the last forty minutes scooted along quickly and got us to the kills and other good stuff.

Gutterballs would have been an unenthusiastic “it was okay” if it didn’t have all the explicit material. But I found that stuff to be very distracting and in an odd way trying to be over the top hurt the movie in my mind. Now I’m not sure if the other versions just cut the sexual stuff and left the gore intact. That might make for a much better watch. But this is what I watched, and I just can’t recommend it.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

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