Finally… We finally get to see Deathgasm, the homegrown heavy metal horror that’s been wowing international audiences. And in venues like The Civic, no less! High on anticipation, we talked to director Jason Lei Howden about his film before the first Kiwi audiences get to experience the craziness as part of the NZ International Film Festival.

FLICKS: You must be pretty excited about bringing your movie back home.

Yeah, very excited. It’s been crazy. I’ve been to audiences in America and Brazil and Sydney so it’s been really exciting to come back. It’s kind of like a hometown screening I guess.

Big time. What are you most looking forward to about seeing it was a bunch of Kiwis?

It’s going to be great to share it with all the people that have worked on it and put so much into it who haven’t seen it yet. That’s really exciting.

And also seeing how Kiwis respond to the humour. It had a really good screening to a sold out audience in Sydney at the Film Festival a few weeks ago. Yeah, really looking forward to seeing how that goes.

I guess there’s a precedent for Kiwi splatter-comedy-horror-awesome-nonsense travelling really well internationally. It’s not like it’s something that audiences overseas haven’t seen before. Do you think it’s going to be a tougher audience back home?

YI guess there is the cringe factor which seems to have changed a bit recently, but yeah, there was a time when New Zealanders couldn’t watch people with New Zealand accents on TV and movies. Not so long ago even. Hopefully, that’s changing. We got a great response in the US. I didn’t even know that we’ve almost got a reputation for these crazy horror movies now. A lot of people in the US, that’s what they think of when they think of New Zealand cinema. It’s great to be contributing to that image I guess.

That’s a great international legacy for us to be creating with our films. That’s awesome.

Yeah, exactly. It’s been a fun process and I’m heading off to Korea in a few weeks representing New Zealand film on the international stage.

Fantastic. How has the New Zealand metal soundtrack being going down with overseas audiences?

They love it. One thing I always wanted to do when I first pitched the project was bring some New Zealand bands with us as well. It’s almost like a showcase of New Zealand music as well and it’s going great. The band Bulletbelt has just put together some theme songs. They’ve got NZ On Air funding for a music video which must be one of the first times that a New Zealand black metal band has got on-air funding. Even people who don’t like metal have been really into the soundtrack because it represents the story and the characters.

Awesome. I don’t care about the people that don’t like metal Jason, they can all go get fucked. For me it sounds like your film is the perfect combination of elements. I’ve been hanging out to see a movie like this for such a long time.

That’s great, yeah. It’s been great being behind it. It’s the sort of movie I want to watch when I was like 16 or 17. I used to watch metal all the time, watching movies like Bad Taste and just wishing that there was more movies like this out there. Hopefully, it really appeals to that generation of metal heads and also the older metal heads like us as well. It’s crazy that this movie hasn’t been made yet, I guess, in the United States, or Norway, or somewhere else before New Zealand. It’s very cool.

‘Deathgasm’ is clearly born from your own tastes. But when was the moment when you went, “Oh shit, other people are going to watch it as well?”

I mean it started getting a lot of really good responses when I first pitched it to Make My Horror Movie. I’d pitched different projects and this was the one where I was like, “shit, this is ambitious. I don’t think we’ve got any chance of making this. I’ll put it in there cause I love it.” But then it started snowballing and I did a few interviews while the competition was still running. We were on a few American websites and the response was great.

But South by Southwest was really the starting point because that was when the reviews starting coming out as well. I knew I liked it, but it’s always that thing. Are they going to get it? It’s been great. We’ve had some amazing reviews and for the whole time of SXSW I had people coming up to me and just congratulating me on the film.

I’m really looking forward to all these supposedly lowbrow elements coming together to be screened in pristine cinemas during a film fest.

Yeah. It’s funny, isn’t it? Also it’s the only New Zealand narrative feature that’s on at the Film Festival this year.

That’s such a brilliant turn of events and I wonder if you’re going to run into any people who have submitted their films that didn’t make it to the festival. They’ll have a bit of a bone to pick with you because of that.

Yeah, that’s always a thing. Also we were part of the Make My Horror Movie competition. There’ll be people that submitted and will like to know if their idea was better, or whatever. But I hope Kiwis can really get behind us and kind of be proud of it for what it is. I mean it’s doing great internationally. The hometown audience is so important because there’s a lot of references to like old friends. There’s some heavy metal jokes that only metal guests are going to get and only Kiwi metal heads will probably get a few of them. Yeah, really looking forward to that.

Right, man. I’m so excited, I can’t wait. Look forward to seeing it in a couple of weeks time. It’s going to be awesome.


Aucklanders – get a taste of the ‘Deathgasm’ soundtrack Fri July 10 at Golden Dawn’s Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

Where and when to see ‘Deathgasm’ around the country