During his time as a porn star, Judge Paul Pritchard was nicknamed Lance. He'll leave you to guess why.
It's Grate To See You Again!
Despite all the energy on display, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol still disappoints with a muddled narrative and unclear intentions. A little research reveals writer, director, and leading man Aramis Sartorio, aka Tommy Pistol, is a former adult film star, which suggests his directorial debut is an attempt to, if not slay, then at least make sense of his former means of employment. Unfortunately, while the process may very well have been cathartic for Mr. Sartorio, most viewers will likely be left confused by this frequently uninvolving (and dare I say self centered) film that goes out of its way to provoke.
Split into three dream sequences—each of which occurs whilst Tommy sleeps soundly with his member in a penis pump—The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol is loud, brash, and at times incredibly violent. The first dream sequence revolves around Tommy's desire to be famous, regardless of what it is he ends up being famous for. In this particular vignette, Tommy get his chance at fame by starring in a snuff movie, which features that much overlooked deadly weapon: the cheese grater. Desperately unfunny, due primarily to some poorly conceived slapstick, the segment also features a tasteless and offensive scene where an actor is blacked up to play the Pakistani proprietor of the "Paki Inn" motel. The sequence then resorts to copying the direct-to-camera confessional from JCVD, delivering its finest moment and speaking volumes for its quality. Gore hounds will revel in the senseless splatter, which is delivered with unabashed glee.
I'll admit, I found the second of Tommy's dream sequences to be an absolute, unintelligible mess. Through devious tactics, Tommy finds himself taking on the position of PA to no less than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Incorporating moments that recall The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, this odious sequence is overlong and completely lacking in artistic merit. It's not that the sequence is especially violent, despite a somewhat grisly outcome for Mr. Schwarzenegger, it's more the total lack of context into which the violence is framed that makes the piece so unpalatable.
The final dream sequence is easily the best and goes someway to redeeming the entire picture. Reaching near Dead Alive quantities of grotesquerie, and sure to have viewers reaching for the barf bag, this segment sees Tommy as a heartless porn director on a particularly weird shoot. Actually managing to be funny (though admittedly you'll never look at cookies and cream in the same way again), The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol delivers a final act full of radioactive spiders, zombies, and double anal penetration.
Despite all the violence, profanity, and body fluids, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol contains a surprisingly effective denouement, in which Tommy is seen with his estranged child. Coming directly after a particularly bloody sequence, this flashback is oddly touching, and suggests remorse on behalf of Sartorio. This, in turn, sees the film end on an unexpectedly melancholic note. Considering the contents of the preceding ninety-minutes, the finale will likely wrong foot many viewers and, if not make them change their opinion of the film, certainly give them reason to reassess it.
The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol is presented in standard definition 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are dull, the picture frequently veers to the soft side, and detail levels are average at best, though black levels are solid. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix delivers clear dialogue, but is otherwise flat.
Breaking Glass has put together an excellent assortment of bonus features…
• "Director's commentary"—Though prone to bouts of prolonged silence, the track is a pretty solid effort.
• "Behind The Scenes"—Utilizes backstage footage to offer a good insight into the world of low budget filmmaking. This featurette is especially entertaining thanks to Satorio's frankness, as he discusses how his film came together. Clocking in at 53-minutes, this all-encompassing featurette really is the highlight of the special features, with an excellent focus on the practical effects work.
• "Interviews"—Members of the cast are interviewed regarding their experiences working on The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol, though once again it is Aramis Sartorio's contribution that stands out.
• "Spacecamp"—A short film co-written by Sartorio and fellow adult film star, Joanna Angel. Mildly funny, this short is a decent addition to the set.
• "Sticker Robot…Zoltron is Watching You"—Another short and, from what I can gather, completely pointless slideshow.
• "Welcome to Queens" features Tommy along with his comedy troupe in various sketches.
• "DJ Tommy Pistol" is a music video courtesy of Tommy Pistol and the Rappin Russian.
• "Acting Job" is another music video featuring heavy use of film footage.
• "Something with Balls" is a short trailer for the film soundtrack.
• "The Official Gruesome Death Drinking Game" provides the rules for the Tommy Pistol drinking game.
• "Behind the Scenes Slideshow" is, you've guessed it, a collection of pictures taken behind the scenes.
• "Amorea Slideshow" is a slideshow focusing on the band Amorea, who contributed to the film's soundtrack.
• "Songs From the Da Motion Picture Soundtrack" offers up the entire soundtrack for your listening pleasure.
Last, and certainly least, is a selection of trailers, both for the The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol and other Breaking Glass releases.
I'll give Sartorio credit: he's far from the worst writer/director/actor working in movies today, and there are moments here that suggest he actually has some real talent. Though the second story is awful, and looks like it's been shot on an old mobile phone, the opening and closing stories sporadically impress. The final dream sequence in particular is a near triumph of vulgarity. As a leading man, Sartorio delivers a performance that is the very definition of a mixed bag, as he ranges from downright annoying to side achingly funny, via surprisingly touching. Sadly, these glimmers of hope are too fleeting to earn The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol a full recommendation, but those looking for their next fix of cult cinema could do a lot worse that give Tommy a chance.
Definitely guilty, but in the best way possible.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Breaking Glass
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