Death to Metal tells us what we’re getting right from the start. In a black and white prologue, a trio of metalheads torments a little boy and graphicly pisses on his bible. This segues to a couple of rednecks dumping toxic waste into a creek and then to Father Kilborn (Andrew Jessop) railing against rock music in his sermon, something that gets him suspended from his duties by Father Brennan (Dan Flannery, Contagion, Empire).
Elsewhere, Zane (Alex Stein) is having an equally bad day as he finds out he’s been replaced by both his band, Withered Christ, and his girlfriend. As he’s pouring his heart out to Mariah (Grace Melon), Father Kilborn is driving into the river, yes the one we saw at the film’s start.
Writer Kevin Koppes and director Tim Connery (Black Web) cross The Toxic Avenger with Lords of Chaos and Peter Walker’s The Confessional then crank the volume up to eleven as the mutated man of the cloth finds his way to the metal show where Zane, Mariah and Withered Christ will be. And Father Kilborn intends to ascend the stairway to heaven by putting these sinners on the highway to hell.
Made by metal fans for metal fans Death to Metal is a loud and proud bloodbath with nothing more on its mind than to show footage of local bands, it was shot in Iowa, and kill some people. And it does deliver a serious body count, with throats being slit, bodies bisected by cymbals and even an improvised abortion. I thought Catholic priests were supposed to be pro-life?
The effects are of the cheap and cheerful variety and not meant to be taken too seriously, the fetus for example is obviously a small plastic dollar store doll. But there are lots of DIY intestines and other less identifiable organs flying around and keeping Death to Metal’s kills from getting boring. All of it done with practical effects, if there was any major major use of CGI, I didn’t notice it. There is however some traditional animation used to illustrate Father Brennan’s reminices. Like the film’s gore effects, it’s basic but effective.
The various bands we get to hear are all actually quite good. Quite often that’s a problem in a film like this with a lack of budget forcing filmmakers to rely on friends who will play for beer and exposure. Death to Metal features music from bands that sound like you wouldn’t go to see at your local club, you’d buy their demo and shirt as well.
Somewhat surprisingly Death to Metal doesn’t indulge in much religious humour. Given metal’s anti-religious and at times outright Satanic elements I was expecting plenty of jokes aimed at the church. Instead, most of the gags center around music, the bands’ backstage issues, promoter Ryan Rammer’s (Charlie Lind) attempts to deal with them, and of course, horror movie traditions. The gags aren’t always laugh out loud funny, but most of the time they’re at least amusing.
While it’s not exactly another Deathgasm, Death to Metal is a fun film with blood, boobs and a priest for a beast. As an added bonus, it also has some relatable characters rather than just the usual metalhead stereotypes. It’s an ideal choice for watching with friends and plenty of beer. And don’t turn it off too fast, you’ll want to see the scenes scattered through the credits as well as the lyrics video for the final song.
Wild Eye Releasing will debut Death to Metal on digital platforms on December 7th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.