JOHNNY GRUESOME ** USA 2018 Dir: Gregory Lamberson 90 mins
Director and writer Gregory Lamberson first wrote the screenplay for this in the early 80’s but never received sufficient financing to film it so the project was shelved. He, of course went on to direct SLIME CITY (1986), SLIME CITY MASSACRE (2010) and KILLER RACK (2015) to name a few. However he did manage to get JOHNNY GRUESOME published as a novel many years later in 2007/08 and won a couple of awards for it, finally getting it onto film in 2016 and now behold…it is available for us all to feast our eyes upon!
The story follows Johnny Grissom, the high school greasy metal head who gets bullied by the jocks yet seems perfectly capable of standing up for himself even if it does get him into trouble. It is his troubled home life that is really bugging him. Whilst on a night out drinking with his girlfriend and a couple of friends Johnny gets murdered, but something brings him back and he sets out to seek revenge on those that he believes have wronged him and the list is fairly long. Now I’m not a massive fan of teen horror comedies but by adding the tenuous zombie element it did peak my interest momentarily. Unfortunately the script, dialogue and general pace throughout was slow, tedious and distinctly unenthusiastic that I struggled to drum up any enthusiasm for this movie at all. I’m sorry to say that even though the cast boasts Anthony De Ia Torre (Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge) and Michael Delorenzo (Alive) amongst its line up they do very little to pep up the general mundanity of it all. The rest of the cast add no likability to their characters with Byron Brown II managing to make his character who is supposed to be the hero increasingly more pathetic as the movie progresses. The soundtrack isn’t too bad though, it’s the kind of generic Rock/Melodic Metal you would expect from the genre but it is well done. The couple that composed several of the songs on the movie actually wrote them for Lamberson for the release of the book but they work well within the movie. The effects are also pretty good with a mixture of CGI and practical. It would’ve been better if there were more practical effects but the CGI isn’t bad for a low budget. As I said earlier there is a very vague zombie element which is basically just Johnny stumbling about killing his enemies in a very non zombie way but his make up is pretty good. It could have done with more blood and guts in my opinion but there were some great disembowelings!! Given that it was a labour of love and a long time in the making it’s not Lambersons strongest work, it was more miss then hit for me but it does have some positive things about it.
Review by Sarah Budd