“Death Metal” (2016): Carnage and Comedy Riff Together Fiercely

Guitar riffage leads to blood spillage in writer/director Chris McInroy’s horror-comedy short Death Metal, which truly lives up to its title. This film boasts enough blood and gore in its five-minute running time to fill the average feature-length film but it offers more than that, as well.

Lars (Kirk Johnson) wants to rock on his guitar but has little natural talent for it in the horror comedy short film Death Metal.

Lars (Kirk Johnson in a ridiculously funny wig) is a budding heavy metal guitarist who should have practiced a lot more than he did before trying to busk in a park. His father (Michael Dalmon) passes down a diabolical guitar that allows its players to riff mightily, but it comes with a cost. Unfortunately for a number of people, rules must be followed when dealing with the infernal.

Lars’s father (Michael Dalmon) tells his son the story of a demonic guitar passed from father to son in his family.

There has been no shortage of gruesomely over-the-top horror comedies meshing death metal with demonic dealings, but Chris McInroy brings some new tricks with his short. Viewers who think they have seen it all in this subgenre will be rewarded by seeking out this effort. Along with impressive practical effects from special effects supervisor Eric Zapata and his assistants Erin Einbender and Sarah Danko, Death Metal offers a fair share of laughs; all-in performances from Kirk Johnson, Michael Dalmon, and the supporting cast; skillful helming from McInroy; E.J. Enriquez’s accomplished cinematography and framing; and crisp editing from Gavin Tatro that keeps pace with the humor and horror.

There’s no lack of the red stuff in Death Metal.

Death Metal is currently on an award-winning film festival run. For more information, visit facebook.com/deathmetalshortfilm/.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.