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Johnny Gruesome (2018)

Johnny Gruesome (2018)

Released: 2018
Genre: comedy, horror, Movie
Director: Gregory Lamberson
Starring: Aprilann, Byron Brown II, Anthony De La Torre,,
Run time: 90 min
IMDb: 4.1/10
Country: USA


Based on the award winning horror novel by Gregory Lamberson. When rebellious high school student Johnny Grissom is murdered, he returns from the grave as a revenge crazed supernatural creature.
User Reviews: Short and sweet…no spoilers.

Most of the reviews for Johnny Gruesome are spot on – THIS MOVIE KICKS A$$!!! To the one knucklehead who said it sucked and that the acting was horrible, you missed the point! This movie thrives on the irony present in what was called "bad acting," and lives on the precipice of over-the-top and underspoken, hence the characters who play Johnny’s best friends – one "over-the-top" and one softspoken.

I should correct my review title implication. This isn’t really a zombedy, per se. It just so happens, as the synopses states, that Johnny comes back from the dead. He’s not really a zombie, but a revenant. But as with all my reviews, no spoilers here, so mum’s the word.

So let’s talk about content and context. First, the writing is absolutely brilliant! The tongue in cheek quips and one-liners are stellar, and the story is excellent. Initially it seems that Johnny going after those who wronged him will be a short story but the writing is done in a way that makes this really work. It should be noted that the soundtrack is equally as brilliant. While some might not care for the few synth parts, the minimal intervalic writing, utilizing dissonance (especially the tritone, for those musically inclined) as a tool for both thematic elements as well as mood, are very well done. Add to that the metal (sounding) parts and some ironic lyrics and the music is a winner. Pay close attention to the lyrics when the music plays behind dialog…there’s a ton of irony here, and contributes to the comedy aspect of the entire film, but could be missed easily. Then again, and referring back to the whole "bad acting" thing, the irony is what totally makes it.

So…the writing…excellent. Personally, I felt the acting was exactly as it was meant to be. Cheesy, over-the-top, or subdued, and fit the movie perfectly. Nearly every character plays a role in the schtick, but in different ways. If someone merely watches this without understanding the history of the whole Johnny Gruesome thing, then yes…it could very likely be interpreted as bad acting, but since you’re (obviously) reading this review, now you know better, so pay attention to how each character and his/her quirks fit in to both the story and what the writer wants to achieve.

As for other facets, the editing is well done and allows for a very cohesive piece. Cinematography and sound are all professionally done (unlike so many indie horror-ish flicks) and follow the paths of given expressions in the film. The special fx are "okay," and while I wish they had been better, they certainly weren’t bad, and I believe they were done in a way that would celebrate the irony of the film while also not investing thousands in full-blown realistic gore. Don’t get me wrong…these aren’t the awful, super cheesy CGI things you see in SyFy Channel movies…just different. You’ll see what I mean.

Post-production and the final remaining elements of the film are well done. No complaints.

All in all, this is just a fun, goofy flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously. With a 25 year process from inception to wrapping production, Lamberson got what he wanted…a really good representation of who Johnny "Gruesome" Grissom really is. It is less horror/comedy and more an ironic comedy of errors with horror as the thematic storyteller.

This is NOT for viewers who take their films too seriously and don’t understand irony. Nor is it for folks who are overly critical on every single facet of film making and production. This IS for viewers who enjoy metal, horror without boundaries, and irony. I will totally watch this film again. I might even buy it!

Notes on parental content:

  • There is a fair amount of profanity, though not gratuitous or overbearing.
  • I would not call ANYTHING about this movie scary or intense, but due to the thematic material being of a comical, horror nature, some viewers might find some parts a bit disturbing.
  • Gore is such a subjective thing. Some would say this is a gory film, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that is so. There are a few kill scenes that go beyond just blood, including organs and other such things, but they are presented in ways that aren’t as "gnarly" as they could be. That said, while the "gore" and violence isn’t consistent throughout the film, once the second half of the movie arrives, there are indeed some bloody scenes that some may consider gory. It is NOT a gorefest, nor will it satisfy those of us who are gorehounds, but the violence does rise to a level above "just blood." There are also a few fist fights, but they are tame.
  • With regards to sex and nudity, there is one sex scene (in its ironic glory) that shows both a male and female topless. Otherwise, the film has only a couple scenes of kissing (one that is deadly comical, and not sexual).
  • There are multiple scenes that involve alcohol or drugs, including cocaine. This is a thread that runs the entire movie, though not glorified in any way.

Watch this movie!!! Just understand the intent that Greg Lamberson has. It’s a total blast