Sometimes dreams do come true, and Greg Lamberson can attest to that with the screenplay he wrote for Johnny Gruesome in 1984, however at the time unable to raise the funds he produced and directed Slime City (1988) instead in 1986, for $50,000 which went to become a cult classic. Then in 2006, he wrote a novelization of his Gruesome screenplay which Bad Moon Books published as a Limited-Edition Hardcover in 2007 and Medallion Press as a trade paperback in 2008. Since then he went to earn numerous credits with his films, such as Killer Rack (2015) and finally achieved the ability to create his long lost dream film Johnny Gruesome which earned distribution from Uncork’d Entertainment.
It begins with a high school student obviously named Johnny Grissom (Anthony De La Torre (Lords of Chaos ) a bit of a loose cannon, getting into fights against those that discount him, his friends, and their music, rejecting all authority, creating situations dangerous to him and his buds. One late night out cruising with his girlfriend Karen (Aprilann) and best friends Eric (Byron Brown II) and Gary (Chris Modrzynski) he almost drives them off a bridge, quickly it bursts into fight and accidently Johnny dies, not quite a spoiler the artwork gives that away clearly. Eric and Karen frozen completely shocked with what’s occurred however Gary convinces them to not report it, the police determine its all an accident after all, Johnny a nobody, well someone has other plans for that body. The attitude to will one back from the dead, seeking revenge on everyone, even in decay a new joyride commences. Johnny’s soul is restless and wants revenge, reclaims his decaying body and goes against all of those who have wronged him in his young life. Johnny’s hitlist, varies greatly, not in any fancy order, a slasher manner starts the cycle with a main adversary ruthless athlete Todd (Travis Torlone), of course his loving drunken abusive father (Michael DeLorenzo) mourns his passing. Meanwhile, Karen works to keep her bed warm with Gary’s assistance as Eric begins to see Johnny’s corpse, but no one takes him seriously, really who would, just someone suffering from the loss. I don’t want to reveal too much, as the storyline is fairly simple, however one does quickly understand who’s turning up on the list and why, though stopping him falls on a weird level.
Craig Lindberg, created wonderful special effects makeup on a very tight budget, this actually is evident in some of the shots during the film, although highly unnoticeable as the story keeps the viewer engaged. The music also fits nicely, with it created by a husband and wife team Giasone and Marcy Italiano, which actually comes from the Gruesome album done in connection with Lamberson’s book release which incidentally lead to him directing them two horror themed videos which starred actress Erin Brown, aka “Misty Mundae”. The overall feel of the movie, touches on themes of the 80s, and uses some tension to create a natural shock moment, nothing too overwhelming. A slight downside to the puppetry work in one area in the movie, you’ll know it when you see it.
IMDb Rating: 5.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10