Deathgasm: Interview with writer and director Jason Lei Howden

Writer, director and visual effects artist Jason Lei Howden granted iHORRORdb an interview to chat about Deathgasm. Below you’ll find our conversation as Jason talks about his Heavy Metal Movie and more.

Hello Jason, thank you for your time. Talk to us about Deathgasm, your Heavy Metal Movie. In your own words, how would you describe it?
J.L.H.: DEATHGASM is a blood-soaked tribute to Horror movies and Heavy Metal. A couple of teenage metalheads inadvertently bring about the demonic apocalypse, then have to save the world - using THE POWER OF METAL. Which of course means heaps of brutal guitar shredding, corpse paint, and ramming crazy objects through skulls.
If you took a baby, got it really stoned, made it listen to Skinless on repeat while an endless stream of horror movies played on a shitty old VHS player, feeding it only pizza, beer, and disapproval, then after a couple of decades it would end up making DEATHGASM (Please don’t do that to an actual baby, you sick bastards).
As a film, it is unabashedly METAL in its inspiration and focus. That said, I think there is much for non-metalheads to enjoy. But it is definitely the most METAL Heavy Metal horror movie ever made.
The Metal music drives the humour, the death set pieces and the story is focused on the bond between fellow Metalheads.

Your movie combines Horror and Heavy Metal. Where did the idea come from?
J.L.H.: My teenage years as a young Metalhead living in a small New Zealand farm town were a big inspiration. Many of the characters and situations were based on my own experiences (apart from the demons).

What about the original soundtrack and the gorgeous practical effects?
J.L.H.: We have a wide range of bands on the soundtrack, and are releasing a vinyl record soon.
We have death thrashers  AXESLASHER, masked black ‘n roll maniacs MIDNIGHT, Canadian speed metallers SKULL FIST, NZ power-metal band RAZORWYRE, epic NZ doomers BEASTWARS, 8 FOOT SATIVA, GOATESQUE,  LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR, devil-metal heathens NUNSLAUGHTER, Australia’s ELM STREET, brutal death-metal PATHOLOGY, Norway’s THE WRETCHED END (with legend SAMOTH) & black metal pioneer turned-prog musician IHSAHN, on a track with DEVIN TOWNSEND doing guest vocals. All of the bands have been just so fucking generous and supportive.
New Zealand’s BULLETBELT have been especially amazing, we have two tracks off their 2015 album Rise Of TheBanshee, including a DEATHGASM theme song which I did backing roars on. We cut together a video clip with band performance and shots from the movie, which should be coming out soon.
So proud to have two tracks from Norwegian black metal legends EMPEROR on the soundtrack. In The Nightside Eclipse is one of my favorite albums, it’s one of my proudest moments having them on the soundtrack. We are currently working on doing a vinyl soundtrack release. It’s going to melt people’s balls off.

With the gore, we used 80 litres of blood on the shoot, which is a good amount of life-juice on camera. But Peter Jackson's splatter masterpiece Braindead (Dead Alive) used 300 litres, so I'm still aiming to top that high-score. Maybe then he will start making splatter-comedies again! We had a great blood and gore team. Tim Wells and Storm Mccracken went all out to try and get as much grue on screen, and they did an awesome job.

How did you get into heavy metal?
J.L.H.: Then when I was about 13, a classmate handed me a dubbed tape of Cannibal Corpse's Tomb Of The Mutilated. It blew my mind, it was like someone had taken a tape recorder down to the depths of hell and recorded Satan dry-retching. It was so intense that I couldn't listen to it for a week, my mind was trying to process what I had experienced. Then I listened to it again, then again. From that point on I was an addict.
 
I started out listening to Morbid Angel, Deicide, Slayer and Sepultura, then discovered the early metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest later. Powerslave was a huge album for me. I got really into Megadeth, too.

Who and what are some of your influences?
J.L.H.: I enjoy a wide range of horror, from The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari through to It Follows. But the main influences for Deathgasm are movies like Return Of The Living Dead, Evil Dead, Braindead and Redneck Zombies. They were the movies I loved most when I was a teenage Metalhead so I thought it would be fitting if the film had a splatter comedy tone.
 
I’ve been a splatter fan since I first saw Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste. I was 9, and went into a department store after school. On the wall of TV sets some irresponsibly awesome employee had chucked on the new Bad Taste VHS. I stood there transfixed for the whole movie watching the gore, mutilations and vomit. From that moment I was hooked.

What are your future plans? Maybe another horror movie?
J.L.H.: I just received a small grant from the Writers Guild to write Deathgasm 2, so there will be a script at least. I can’t reveal too much at this point but there are some really fun directions I’m planning to take it. I have a trilogy in mind, and a comic book series which I’m currently working on also.
But we need people to go out there and support Deathgasm to make it happen. So trve fans of Horror and Metal need to go out there and watch it in cinemas, VOD, buy some merch or DVDs, just to show the suits there is demand for more awesomeness. Otherwise you are dooming us all to a world of Oscar bait and more Fantastic Four sequels.

Interview by Barbara Torretti