Director Ryan Nicholson’s slasher throwback is thankfully a horror film that, while imperfect, has managed to appreciate in value since its release in 2008. While we may be well past the age of the eighties revival in horror cinema, “Gutterballs” is a nice look at the fad done well and with some semblance of substance over style. It’s still not a masterpiece, but it’s definitely midnight movie fodder that should be appreciated with its cinematic contemporaries. Frankly I’m surprised slasher BBK’s signature look never caught on with the horror community, but I digress.
Tensions between two rival cliques boil over during an after-hours bowling session and a fight breaks out. When Lisa, a girl from one of the teams forgets her purse in the arcade, she returns only to be brutally raped by members of the other team. The following night, both groups return to the bowling alley. Except this time, they’re being stalked by a deranged serial killer adorned with a bowling bag as a mask and by sunrise, the alleys will run red with blood.
Director Nicholson’s “Gutterballs” has a good time with its premise and aesthetic, conjuring up the classic teen eighties sports movies that take a horrendous turn mid-way. Almost conjuring “Sleepaway Camp,” Nicholson’s “Gutterballs” watches like a teen comedy with dashes of gore and the killer wreaking pure gory havoc on their victims. If anything, “Gutterballs” suffers for the inconsistent tone that sometimes jumps back and forth between stern slasher and horror comedy. In either case, “Gutterballs” is worth experimenting with, especially if you’re a hardcore slasher fanatic like yours truly. It may not be the best horror movie set in a bowling alley (ahem!), but it’s worthy of its cult classic status.
The extras includes an active and engaging archival commentary track from writer/director Ryan Nicholson, who discusses where he came up with some of the ideas, shooting on location in the bowling alley, casting the picture and working with the actors as well as the crew members, et al. There’s the “Pin-etration Extended Cut” of the film, which runs twenty-eight-seconds longer than the standard version.
The main difference here is that it includes hardcore penetration shots during the rape scene that we didn’t see in the original cut. There’s Behind The Balls: The Making Of Gutterballs, which is a forty-three-minute archival featurette that interviews pretty much all of the cast and crew members as well as Nicholson himself. It’s a very good APK with much of it focused on the effects work. Finally, there’s a still gallery, and the original trailer for the feature.