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Johnny Gruesome (2018) - Movie Review

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Johnny Gruesome - Movie Review

Being a high school student completely sucks.  Just ask Johnny Grissom (Anthony De La Torre).  No one understands him.  He’s a teenage rebel, for sure, and loses his shit over Manowar albums and really twisted horror flicks.  Hell, this dude could have been a friend of mine from back in the day.

Except Johnny likes to live dangerously and push people to their breaking points. No wonder then that his teachers bore him and his friends are just a wee bit frightened of him. You could say that this metal-head has more than one foot in the grave, which is exactly where his story ends…

…and the ballad of Johnny Gruesome begins.

"a brand-new horror film with a slasher heart still beating inside it.  This is also a solid B-movie that cruises along at warp speed."

Written and directed by Gregory Lamberson and based upon his book, Johnny Gruesome is a brand-new horror film with a slasher heart still beating inside it.  This is also a solid B-movie that cruises along at warp speed.  Its comedy works and its kills – including a beheading which gives new meaning to a slam dunk – are right up any Hound of Horror’s alley. 

With top-notch makeup effects and some great performances from its leads, Johnny Gruesome definitely makes for a damn good horror comedy.  Because on one chilly night, Johnny Gruesome (which is the nickname given to him by his peers) goes way too far and his girlfriend Karen (Aprilann), his best friend Eric (Byron Brown II), and druggie Gary (Chris Modrzynski), acting out of sheer panic and self-preservation, accidentally kill him. 

Faking his death is easily done.  No one will doubt his carelessness on a bridge.  But the unthinkable happens and Grissom, fully revitalized as the rotting Johnny Gruesome, crawls out of his own grave and stumbles back home.  He’s on a mission of revenge and, soon, all his enemies – including teachers, friends, and his father (Michael DeLorenzo) – will meet his knife, tire iron, and tongue.

With Johnny Gruesome, we have a successful B-movie that knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything but a fun horror flick.  It is successful on many levels and, thanks to a mighty metal-minded rock and roll swagger, I will be surprised if we don’t get a second film next year. Gruesome screams for more midnight matinee-like snacks.

One of the things I love about the movie is just how the “zombie” makeup is done.  There is a progression of the corpse rotting on display and that means De La Torre, by the end of the movie, absolutely disappears into full-on zombie mode.  And never once does the makeup and gore effects slip up.  This is fine, fine work from artist Craig LindbergJohnny Gruesome - Movie Review

With a great concept comes great responsibility and Lamberson, adapting his own material, takes great care to make Johnny not come across as a massive dick.  While he does “lose it” toward the very end of his mortal existence, there is a moral discussion involving what his friends did or did not do that would not work at all if De La Torre was just a massive jerk.  What he does to his friends and his enemies speaks volumes, though, and, as the saying goes, what goes around and comes around. 

From Uncork’d Entertainment, Johnny Gruesome is now on VOD today.  Bang your head!  Johnny Gruesome rocks!

4 stars


Johnny Gruesome - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R.
90 mins
: Gregory Lamberson
Gregory Lamberson
Anthony De La Torre, Byron Brown II, Aprilann
: Horror
Live Fast. Die Young. Leave Carnage.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I don't like seeing you hanging out with this trash, bro."
Theatrical Distributor:
Uncork'd Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 16, 2018
Synopsis: High school students Eric Carter and Johnny Grissom are best friends. Johnny is a heavy metal rebel nicknamed "Johnny Gruesome" by his classmates. When Johnny is murdered while on a drunken joyride, his killer persuades Eric and Johnny's girlfriend to help him make the murder look like an accidental death. Johnny returns from the grave as a murderous, wisecracking zombie hell bent on revenge.

Johnny Gruesome - Movie Review


Blu-ray Details:

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Johnny Gruesome - Movie Review

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