Cast: Anthony De La Torre, Aprilann, Byron Brown II, Michael DeLorenzo
Written by: Gregory Lamberson
Directed by: Gregory Lamberson
Running Time: 1h26m
Reviewed by: Philip Wade
Johnny Grissom (De La Torre) is a heavy metal loving, angry, teenager with a mean car, a hot girlfriend and a reckless streak. One night while he is out drinking with friends he endangers their lives by speeding down a dark winding road. In response his friend chokes him causing Johnny to crash. His friend doesn’t stop and ends up killing Johnny.
Johnny’s not down for the count long, for he returns from the dead to exact his revenge on everyone who has wronged him.
I admit, I am not a horror fan and am picky with the horror movies I do like. Johnny Gruesome did not seem to be my kind of horror movie. It has shallow, one-dimensional characters who plod from scene to scene making odd leaps in logic, driving the plot along from point to point. The mundane situations that occur are outrageously unrealistic and defy expectations. People’s reactions to the grotesque and macabre are understated or hammy melodrama.
Johnny Gruesome does this. There is not too much development of Johnny. He is bullied a little, but we don’t get to learn much about him other than he doesn’t like being called Johnny Gruesome. His father is an unemployed alcoholic, whom Johnny is angry with for some reason. He’s concerned about his friend’s virginity as well as the lack of partying lifestyle his unsexed friend has.
When he comes back, Johnny is out to murder those who wronged him. The bully at school, his friend who killed him, the girl who betrayed him. After awhile though, the story suggests he wants everyone dead…but he doesn’t kill everyone he encounters.
The tone of the movie has a disjointed feel. You have scenes of horror played out with almost no strong emotion –the murder of a classmate whose head is found in a locker. There is almost no emotion in the scene. To the scene where a teacher and her husband, who are discussing Johnny’s attacks is played up with so much drama and melodramatic emotion that I was wondering why there wasn’t an organ playing in the background of the scene punctuating every pause and deep anguished stare.
The makeup effects were good. The visual effects were a bit lame. Nothing that couldn’t be overlooked with a great story and actors –but this movie didn’t seem to have either, so the visual effects seem to fit. To be fair about the actors most people in this movie had good and bad moments. The music was great, but it did get a little repetitive in the end. I believe it was original to the movie and fit the story. This movie was in many ways terrible and a bit of a train wreck but at the same time, I couldn’t look away. I liked it.
Is there scarier? Yes. Is there funnier? Yes. Are there better movies that rely on sensible character development and mostly logical stories based on fantastic elements that still manage to work? Hell Yes. But, sometimes you got to let these things go and just watch something for the hell of it, and for my Johnny Gruesome was the hell that I enjoyed.