Gutterballs directed by Ryan Nicholson (2008)

“You don’t come out alive from the 80s” sang Manuel Agnelli with the Afterhours and the verse could very well be the headline for this title: “Gutterballs,” imported by our Alex Visani from Spasmo video.

In fact, Ryan Nicholson’s second work is a clear and unequivocal homage to the slashers of that decade with a sprinkling, perhaps overly long, of rape (in particular) & revenge.


To resolve a love feud, two rival groups challenge each other to bowling, but the game turns first into a brawl and then into a group rape, in a scene that almost seems to parody (making it even more degrading) the sequence from “The Accused” that so troubled the X generation. After the violence, the game resumes, but a masked avenger, thirsty for blood, awaits the unlucky ones.


GutterballsI can immediately state that “Gutterballs” is not a good film, it’s a softcore, grotesque, demented, and vulgar film… and yet, at times, it’s actually enjoyable if you’re willing to play along. What’s the game? It’s the good old “Troma flavor” if you get what I mean. In short, you get comfortable and prepare to take hits of guts and politically incorrectness while eating junk food. Now, why a splatter film in 2024 should be politically correct is beyond us, and it’s likely that Nicholson’s work would send all the Laura Mulveys of the world tumbling off the balcony, much to the dismay of fetish scopophiles. But if we want to see what is, in essence, a splatter comedy with the air of a moralistic film critic, then we shouldn’t even have films like Gutterballs on our radar, which on the stall offers severed penises, epic necrosutra 69s, bowling pins used inappropriately, blended heads… and all at reasonable prices, no compromises.

Paradoxically, Nicholson’s film (who previously worked on special effects for X-files, Andromeda, Outer Limits, and Final Destination) is even more democratic than all of good old Alfie Hitchcock’s films, which according to Mulvey were influenced by patriarchal culture and rendered women as fetish objects to be tormented; here, the deaths (absolutely brutal and rather imaginative) involve everyone, indiscriminately: men, women, transsexuals.


In conclusion, it’s not a film for lovers of acting refinement and it’s not a film for the prudish scolds of the 2000s. But if you revel in z movies, if you love the butcher shop of independent horror cinema and walk around with a prayer card of Art the Clown in your pocket… then Gutterballs is the film for you.

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