“Death To Metal” available on a Collector’s Edition Bluray!
Already with the traumatic distaste for heavy metal music, the fire and brimstone preacher, Father Milton Kilborne, addresses his congregation with a bigotry homily aimed to categorize not only heavy metal music as a sin, but also homosexuality, internet porn, and other indulging vices. When Father Kilborne is suspended by the church’s head priest, the zealous Kilborne drives himself into a stuporous accident that upends his car into a toxic waste dumping ground. The accident mutates the ardent Father, still blinded by God’s Wrath rather than his Mercy, into a superhuman and disfigured killing machine who stumbles into one of the biggest heavy metal concerts of the year – The Holy Saturday Metal Massacre. Metal bands and metalheads unite for a headbanging, guitar-rifting, super loud four-show rockfest and what was supposed to be the best part of metalhead Zane’s abysmal day has now turned into a bloodbath as he and his friend Mariah are caught in the middle of Father Kilborne’s devout judgement and faith cleansing.
The tritonic Devil’s music needs not to fear God but fear his misguided instrument of destruction! “Death to Metal” is the 2019 Metalsploitation mutant slasher from written-and-directed by Tim Connery (“Black Web”) and cowritten by Kevin Koppes. What began in the Summer of 2016 under the working title of “Good Friday,” an Indiegogo fundraising campaign was launched with a goal of $50k and with a modest turnout of supports, “Good Friday” received more than half its goal, plus additional private contributions that provided enough moola pull off the campy thrasher-slasher filmed in mostly in New Vienna and Dubuque, Iowa with latter scenes of the downtown Dubuque area and in the historic, post-industrial converted, cultural arts and music venue building appropriately called the Smokestack because of its monolithic warehouse smoke funneling circle chimney. Double Dubuque Films in association with DreamCatcher Productions presents the Smoking Section Films’ “Death to Metal,” a holier-than-thou slasher produced by Connery and Samantha Cihak and associate producer Gary Greco with executive producers Noel Kapp, Trent Lind, Joe Scherrman, and Charlie and Lara Lind, most of all of whom were involved previously in Connery’s freshman feature “Black Web.”
“Death to Metal’s” parallel story follows two unfortunate souls connected by church and who are having the worst day of their lives. For Father Kilborne, his stubborn, one-sided dogmatism lands him in hot water with the residing church priest. Going through the stages of grief having lost the right to perform a holy sacrament and been punished for what he wholeheartedly believes, Kilborne bends the word of God while going on a bender that sends him hurling into a monstrous “Toxic Avenger” fate that isn’t as anti-heroic and doesn’t come with a melee mop but comes with a sharp edged broken wooden cross. Andrew Jessop’s enthusiastic performance glorifies the evilly enthusiastic Father Kilborne’s human form while Trent Johnson takes the lumbering approach of the mutated, Knights of the Templar version of the fanatical Father. As Kilborne becomes a toxic terror, churchgoing Zane has just been dumped by his band Withered Christ and girlfriend. Played by Alex Stein, Zane ventures to self loathe in the comfort on longtime friend Mariah (Grace Melon). Stein’s the unlikely head banger with a quietly spoken and easygoing demeanor but can be a sleeper metalhead with vehemence for the genre, candidly naming off bands and their technical attributes with excitement in their eyes is a telltale sign of fan no matter what they’re wearing, how they look, or how docile they act. “Death to Metal” fills the mosh pit crowd of characters with supporting bit performances from Charlie Lind, Steve Thompson, Sean Weis, Dean Wellman, Neal Kapp, and Dan Flannery.
Being not a tremendous metal fan, I find that metalsploitation is not terribly hard to love. Horror and metal have gone hand-and-hand for decades since the 1980s with films such as “Hard Rock Zombies” and “Trick or Treat” but has soared under the radar for much of that time and only recently has horror and metal has found some commercial success in the indie market with hits “Deathgasm,” “Lords of Chaos,” and I would say “Psycho Goreman” with its Gwar inspired grotesque costuming. “Death to Metal” is another entry that has had a rough go of breaking the surface with a lack of financial supported marketing, yet the Tim Connery film is a campy crusade to highlight and farce religious sectarianism as well touch upon the hypocrisy of band politics. In a modest showing of practical special effects, first timers Trent Johnson and Brad Vondra bang out simple, yet credible death metal death strokes of broken bottle nipples, a bleach chug, and a metal show circumcision abortion. In contrast, Vondra and Johnson show very little of their bloody work against a slather of offscreen kills that coat “Death to Metal’s” more gritty-grungy veneer and its metacognitive reason for being, to be a sweaty mosh pit of knavish metal and horror. Conner and Jackson Cooper Gango reteam from “Black Web” to not only providing a dingy and smokey atmospherics and stylize with stark blue filter gels but they also make up where special effects lack with impressive camera work with subtle zooms to narrow the center focus, crane shots to make visualize the body-high carnage, and a stationary car-cam next to the wheel well to enrich and stretch “Death to Metal’s” humble budget. One of the best parts of “Death to Metal” is the opening prologue of Romans 1:18, speaking to the wrath of God being revealed against all ungodly and unrighteous men, and then quick cuts to title track “Fuck Your God” in big, bold red lettering.
Compiled of horror and metal, with actual metal bands such as Telekinetic Yeti and Mutilated by Zombies, “Death to Metal” arrives on a collector’s edition Blu-ray from Wild Eye Releasing. The AVC Encoded BD50 presents the film in high definition, 1080p resolution with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Not the most tapered image for an indie scaled, indie market distributor with banding issues at every dark-toned turn. Textures on the skin, liquids, and clothing do have a tactile decking that can’t be ignored, especially on the higher contrast focus to create tension-laden semi-opaque shadows. The release comes with two English audio mixes, a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and a stereo 2.0. Honestly, I had difficulty distinguishing between the two mixes flipping back-and-forth. Both tracks appear to be identical in a quizzical effort to not make the metal music stand out in a more than dual channel output. Dialogue renders over fine, clear and clean with a nice balance between the club patron and club skirmishing chaotic ambience. The soundtrack’s a phenomenal plethora of metal band sampling with music from Mutilated by Zombies, Exmortus, Boar, Driftless Sisters, Inquiring Blood, Netherworld, Monolithe, and The Rising Plague. Optional English subtitles are also available. Special features include raw Snapchat behind-the-scenes footage, music video for the fictitious metal band Grandma Incinerator’s End of the Elderly, Indigogo fundraising videos back when the film was under the working title “Good Friday” with dark humored skits and pleas for funding, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, the official “Death to Metal” drinking game rules, and Wild Eye Releasing trailers. The physical features include a clear Blu-ray snapper case with an illustrated father Kilborne gracing the dual sided cover art. The reverse side displays an iconic scene from the film enveloping a mini poster in the Blu’s insert. There’s also a more grotesque rendering of Father Kilborne and one unlucky impaled metalhead screaming in agony illustrated on the cardboard slipcover. “Death to Metal” comes unrated, region free, and has a runtime of 80 minutes. A slaying entry into the niche metalsploitation subgenre, “Death to Metal” goes hardcore with deathcore when church and metal clash!