Tommy Pistol, Daisy Sparks, Camilla Lim
Aramis Sartorio, Karen Sartorio
Vicious Circle Films/Breaking Glass Pictures
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First off, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol
is NOT a "no-budget" horror flick, a label that has been provided it by several other critics.
$50,000 is not "no budget." Low budget? Maybe, but certainly not "no budget." I've seen remarkable cinematic achievements on far less than $50,000, so concluding that this is a strong achievement in the "no budget" arena is simply giving the film far too much credit. While I typically find myself a fan of the indie horror fare provided by Vicious Circle Films (the horror arm of Breaking Glass Pictures), I can say unequivocally that even as a diehard fan of Troma films I found The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol to be a disappointing, under-achieving indie horror entry.
Recently released on home video by Vicious Circle Films, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol centers around, you guessed it, a struggling actor named Tommy Pistol (listed in the credits as Tommy Pistol, but actually co-writer/director Aramis Sartorio). Pistol has turned his back on family and friends in an effort to chase his dreams, but his continued downward spiral leads to his drowning himself (not quite literally) in a penis pump. One day, he wakes up and realizes that his whole life has been leading up to this moment when he awakens and finds out there are no second chances.
It should be noted that The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol is an indie horror comedy, a film most similar in tone to a Troma film and it will most likely be Troma fans who warm up to the film. The film, which captured the "Best Of Fest" prize at the 2011 PolyGrind Film Festival, is almost freakishly absurd with scenes that go multiple steps past where you think they're going to go. Even though the film didn't quite work for this critic, there's something to be admired about Sartorio's balls to the walls approach to movie making. Sartorio, who has worked both in front of and behind the scenes in adult entertainment, is making his feature film debut here and it's promising enough that I'll still be looking for his next flick even though I don't particularly care for this one.
The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol essentially exists in Tommy's dream/fantasy world, an approach that removes any obligation for a cohesive script and allows for an almost stream-of-consciousness style of filmmaking to take place. It's clear here that Sartorio and his cast and crew are having fun, though this is also clearly Sartorio's film and he's definitely the strongest one in the cast. There are also some fun cameos including Mia Tyler (Steven Tyler's other daughter) and a terrific Kimberly Kane.
While it was likely a result of budgetary constraints, the film's special effects also lend the film a Troma feel but what's most impressive is that Sartorio seems to know how to make them all work. He even manages to work in his own adult film themed short film, Attack of the Staph Spider, within the structure of the film without missing a beat.
Perhaps it was simply a product of my own weird space, because ordinarily this is the kind of film I'd absolutely love. While it didn't work for me, my gut tells me that fans of indie horror comedy will find reasons to really enjoy this film and those familiar with Sartorio's work may want to see the film just for the novelty of it all.
The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol is available on home video with Vicious Circle Films, the horror arm of Breaking Glass Pictures.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic