Friday, January 7, 2022

Sacrilege Slaughter Sounds: Death To Metal (2019)

Death To Metal (2019)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Alex Stein, Grace Melon and Andrew Jessop

I guess you could say that despite not being a complete fan of the music genre, I'm at least tolerant towards heavy metal, even having my share of fave metal bands both real and fictional. (Hello, Lordi. Hello, JP Ahonen's Belzebubs.) As for Rocksploitation slashers, though, I'm a tad more finnicky; aside from a selective few faves of mine like Rocktober Blood (1984) and Hard Rock Nightmare (1988), a good lot of these Heavy Metal massacres like Terror on Tour (1980), The Choke (2006) and Deadtime (2012) just doesn't cut right for me, may it be due to the lack of likable characters, interesting kills and/or overall quality of the direction and story.   

Death To Metal is another contender for the Rock and Roll hack'n slash gig, more or less promising your typical round of head bangers getting sliced and dicked with a kinda intriguing twist that it doubles as a religious horror flick. Heavy metal clashing against Bible-thumping, what can go wrong?

The film opens with throat growling vocals playing while a trio of metal heads corner and harass a young Catholic boy named Milton by forcing him to watch his precious Bible get pissed on. Forward ahead to the present and we see Milton have grown up into a hateful priest with a short temper and a Fire-and-Brimstone outlook towards his religion, a fact that rightfully concerns his church's head priest into suspending Milton from churchly duties until he seeks professional psychological help.

Feeling betrayed, Milton goes on an alcoholic bender wherein he proceeds to break into the head priest's office to trash it, murder an unfortunate janitor who catches him and tops it all off with a high speed car crash that ends with him lying heavily wounded in a creek. Unbeknownst to our vitriol-spewing Bible-thumper, the creek also happens to be the dumping site of some highly toxic animal feed that, according to the litterbugs, made "hulked-out hogs".

Now deformed, mutated with super strength and gone completely nuts, a more monstrous Milton murders his way to a big metal show where a down-in-his-luck former band lead Zane and his normie bestie Mariah will witness the priest's savage cleansing of all things he deems unworthy of God's love and glory, one sliced up body at a time. 

Going about the messy slasher bits of Death to Metal (2019), I would say it's serviceable enough; the story is easy to follow and the idea of the villain being this very angry priest undergoing an extreme mutation to become even more of a monster fully embraces the silliness of the plot and I love the movie for it. Andrew Jessop is just awesome as Milton Kilborn, with a scowl meaning business and line deliveries that genuinely reflect his character's mental and emotional state as a holy man who gave up on forgiving sinners and fully dedicated his life to the Old Testament style of brutality as divine intervention. Heck, one scene have him reacting to a story about a man brutally murdering his cheating wife by simply pointing out that adultery is a grave offense in the Bible, overlooking the fact that multiple murders were committed. Chilling, indeed.

On the other side of the maniac coin, Monster Milton, played by Trent Johnson, took on a fairly simplistic look of a lumpy, cancer-filled monstrosity hidden underneath a hooded cloak, wielding a wooden cross as his main weapon. Can't say I'm a big fan of the design, especially when I cannot even get a good look at most of the make-up effects done for this aberration, but so long as the gross mutant juggernaut is still spewing judgmental holiness and dishing out a gnarly kill or two, I can dig it on a level. 

And speaking of kills, not gonna lie that despite the large count, a lot of the murders hardly stood out (offscreen kills, ugh), but when they do dip into the gory stuff, they do deliver from nasty bisections to fetuses being ripped out from wombs. Sadly, the rest of the movie certainly felt lacking; for one, a deal of the acting here felt stiff, especially when it comes to our two leads Alex Stein and Grace Melon as Zane and Mariah respectively, which is a darn shame as their characters were written quite nicely, adorably relatable even. For a supposed horror-comedy, the jokes mostly fall flat due to dull delivery and lack of substance and/or solid punchline to back it up, odd considering how chaotic metal music is, you would think there would be more than a punch of energy here. Some scenes also dragged a little longer than it needed to be, hobbling the momentum of the story especially around the middle act, yet regardless of these flaws, I genuinely still find Death To Metal (2019) an admirable stab at Rocksploitation bodycounting done within a low-budget production. 

Keeping it freaky fun with good gore, approachable characters and even a few warm messages about heavy metal music and religion (This is the last film I expected to have a genuinely sincere discussion about religion being about compassion and forgiveness, not hellfire and punishment, but here it is!), Death to Metal (2019) a silly B-flick that's made to be entertaining and I say it done enough to be a good time! Aimed for fans of heavy metal and cheesy bad horror movies, what else is there to say but rock on, little slasher!

1 female gutted with a knife (flashback animation)
1 male found mutilated (flashback animation)
1 male strangled, later seen impaled through the jaw with a mop handle
1 male sliced in half with a wooden crucifix
1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 female murdered offcamera, later seen knifed in the chest
1 male had his neck snapped
1 male had his leg broken, force fed with bleach
1 male strangled to death
5 males slaughtered offcamera
1 male stabbed with a wooden crucifix
1 female stabbed in the ears with broken drumsticks
1 female had had her unborn fetus torn out from her gut
1 male stabbed in the chest with broken beer bottles
1 male gets a thrown cymbal to the chest
1 male dragged away, killed
1 male dragged away, killed
1 male dragged away, killed
1 male dragged away, killed
1 male dragged away, killed
1 male dragged away, killed
1 female dragged away, killed
1 male dragged away, killed
1 female found dying in the killer's hold
16 victims seen murdered in a piled
2 males slaughtered inside a van, blood and gore seen splashed around
1 male had his eyes thumbed  
1 male stabbed in the chest with a wooden crucifix
Total: 48

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