Jon Lee Brody
Jesse Lee Nunn
Sicko Comedy Horror
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The Guresome Death of Tommy Pistol (2010)
16th Aug 11
A wannabe actor/writer/director falls asleep during a solo sesh and has some messed up dreams. It’s like The Vault of Horror with less Terry-Thomas and more penis pumps.
Whenever a pornographic performer gets a part in a non jazz flick it’s usually one of two roles; 1. Playing a fictional porn star (e.g. Zack & Miri or Orgazmo) 2. Playing the sexual organs of actors too legit to allow their bits to be shown or penetrated on screen for their art (e.g. Lars Von Trier’s hilarious romcom Antichrist or Catherine Breillat’s knockabout farce Anatomy of Hell). These unsung athletes of our time get a tough ride so it’s about time one of them decided to get a gang together and show the world they can make a quality piece of entertainment. Enter Aramis Sartorio’s The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol….uh.
Former porno performer / director Sartorio lays his alter ego Tommy Pistol to rest with his “proper” directorial debut, a gross out horror comedy anthology. The man clearly loves his horror with grot credits including The XXXorcist and Re-Penetrator (well worth seeking out…so I’ve read), grot flicks that combine hardcore and hardgore for comic rather than titillating effect. Fittingly with this affair, barf bags will come in much handier than a wad of tissues but while this isn’t what you’d classify as porn (despite cameos from stars of the sticky screen), it does verge on the top shelf.
Fed up with his inability to hold down a job or let go of his lofty ambitions, Tommy’s wife (real life spouse Karen, a former performer herself) leaves the heavy metal loving man-child, taking their daughter with her. Reduced to a diet of microwave hotdogs and skin flicks, with his only friend a masturbation aid penis pump, Tommy seems quite content to chug himself into oblivion. When he passes out mid pump, the dream sequences take over and offer three variations of our protagonist.
First up he’s a hapless actor new in town and unwittingly makes a spectacular splash onto the underground snuff scene. Next he’s ruthlessly vying for a position as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s PA only to skin the Governator and wear the flesh in an attempt to inherit his career. And lastly we find Tommy as a sleazy scum bag hardcore director forced to deal with an outbreak of horny pus on set when his leading lady gets bit by an invisible space spider.
As you’ve probably guessed things get pretty wild in Sartorio’s first feature and there’s no shortage of imagination. It’s a gross-out extravaganza that aims to make you puke and laugh. It sometimes achieves both but there’s too many dry spells between the dry heaves and Sartorio makes the awful decision of giving a film that features a pus bukkake and a talking dog a deadly serious and morose ending. It really kills the vibe and all but ruins what was already a patchy but spottily fun zero budget production. If you can ignore this final fumble you’ll still get a few laughs. If you’re a sick mofo that is.
Biggest yaks and yuks come from Caleb Emerson (director of Die You Zombie Bastards!) as the most bastardly amusing snuff ring boss you’ll ever see; a woman being cheese grated to death; the best piss take Morgan Freeman impersonation you’ll ever hear; the worst (and therefore best) Arnie impersonation you’ll ever “see”; a lodgings called “The Paki Motel” (complete with browned-up proprietor); and one poor victim who has her blood pumped into a spraying Slip n Slide (a contender for WTF moment of the year).
Sartorio the director pulls off some out there nightmarish imagery and even though this isn’t a 100% success as a full length feature he’s proven he’s worth keeping a cautious eye on. A major issue is a tone that wavers between slapstick and hideous acts of misogyny (see above) and general cruelty (see above). Some of the shocks work and some of the laughs hit, but they do sit awkwardly together. You do sometimes feel you’re watching the work of a cruel madman, but his performances do connect.
Sartorio hasn’t given himself an easy task having to carry three vignettes as well as the framing story, but he proves a more than capable lead. His mugging does grate occasionally (especially in the first segment) but there’s a spark in the scamp’s eye that can’t help but win you over; even though he’s clearly a sick sick man indeed. Just our kinda guy then! Most successful is his take on the director, a character he’s sure to have encountered on more than one occasion in real life.
Give The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol a chance if it sounds like your cuppa sick and support the humble porn star people. You’ll be by turns disgusted, tickled, shocked but also sometimes a little bored. Perhaps the dreams themselves could’ve done with a trim or maybe Sartorio should have got rid of the framing story altogether, but he has presented us with a brave, unique if uneven piece of shock cinema. Into testing your gag reflex? Then please, be my guest.