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Review: Johnny Gruesome (The Perfect Back to School Movie)

Summer’s over. School’s back in session. And a punk-rock zombie is out for blood. Johnny Gruesome, the new feature film from Uncork’d Entertainment seeing its VOD release on October 16th and its DVD release on January 1st, follows high school students Eric and Johnny. The victim of a drunken joyride gone wrong, all parties involved agree to make Johnny’s death look like an accident… including Eric and Johnny’s girlfriend! Rock and roll never dies, and neither does Johnny. He returns from the dead as a zombie ghost hybrid and takes action against those who wronged him in his dying moments. This murderous, wisecracking demon is out for revenge in director Gregory Lamberson’s Johnny Gruesome. Written by Lamberson based on his own novel, this collaboration between DeInstitutionalized and Red Hill Movies stars Anthony De La Torre, Bryon Brown II, Aprilann, Michael DeLorenzo, Chris Modrzynski, Kim Piazza, Richard Lounello and Madison Amey.

Originally, I thought, “where is Johnny Gruesome going to fit in the market,” but in reality it’s the perfect back to school movie. Sure, October 16th is a month into the school year, but the grudges against freedom and homework are still blossoming, and the angst and inner turmoil is still fresh off the summer burner. So, if you’re a high school student or a college kid fresh out of Hell, Johnny Gruesome is the perfect movie to help you transition from summer to school to Halloween. Now, with that out of the way… I’d like to say that Johhnny Gruesome is expertly produced and budgeted well for an independent movie. Congratulations to cinematographer Matthew A. Nardone, director/producer Gregory Lamberson, editor Phil Gallo, and co-producers Tamar Lamberson and John Renna for creating an edgy, bloody, angsty movie; a complete supernatural horror thriller that succeeds on every level. There’s even a little bit of drama and comedy thrown in for good measure among the blood, guts and revenge.

My only complaints are that some of the lighting, particularly in the daytime, is a little too whited out for my taste. And that the performances and special effects have a long range – from good to bad. So, instead, I’m going to focus now on all the good things Johnny Gruesome has to offer. First and foremost, I loved the rock and roll scores. They fit the movie so perfectly. It helps keep the atmosphere dark and grungy, while also maintaining a modern, backdoor feel that a younger audience will enjoy. Of course, an older generation – from the 80’s and 90’s – will perhaps get an even bigger kick out of it. Johnny Gruesome has a lot of location changes and a lot of interesting characters that aren’t too forgettable, which is great because it’s a more gratifying experience to watch them die on camera. I have to say the basketball hoop death sequence was my favorite, and a fun way to deliver to the gore when it was much needed.

Throw in sexuality, and this one’s solid! A revenge thriller with a real life warning set in a high school, fueled by a demonic, leather jacket wearing killer. What’s not to love? Seriously. Johnny Gruesome is a fast-paced gorefest that looks good enough for cinemas. It’s everything Jennifer’s Body wishes it could’ve been. Get bent this October when it hits VOD courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment. Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)