The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol review

Equal parts gore, surrealism and comedy make up Breaking Glass Pictures’ “The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol”, which when combined with the movie’s tragic “WTF???” ending form a loosely-wound web of ridiculousness. But in a good way, of course.

The movie presents the life of Tommy Pistol, a bumbling everyman that couldn’t catch a break with a baseball glove. Things start unraveling for him personally, and as he unwinds with some good ol’ fashion porn his lucid state allows his brain to project a series of three ludicrous scenarios, all with him as the lead. Each of the three dream-like stories show a different (and increasingly disturbing) side of the movie business….and how Tommy can survive in this world. Whether portraying a fresh-off-the-bus naïve rube new to the underground LA scene, an overzealous extra, or a sleazy porn director, Pistol seems to be at peace with his role in this dark universe. Of course, a wrench in the cog of these daydreams rears its head, in the form of an allusive, puss-filled (and zombie-creating) spider that spins the movie full-circle. The repetitive mind-fucking image of a hot dog in a microwave then begins to make sense, and makes the title inevitable.

Starting to make sense yet? Probably not…..but it’s a story that you have to see played out before you can even think of making heads-or-tails of it all. The entire movie pushes a sense of innocence, but also has no clear path or obvious destination for the majority of the action. The ending does have a sick sort of redeeming value, both to Tommy and more importantly, to the viewer. How you feel after watching it will vary, but at the very least you will be given a finality that is hard to argue with. The fact that director Aramis Sartorio splices in some well-placed family-themed home video montages will connect you to both Tommy’s psyche and his torment. I mean let’s face it……the title gives away the ending. But at least they mess with you as much as possible first.

The gore level, although it takes a while, is bloody and funny enough to make Lloyd Kaufman smile, if not blush. In many ways the splatter effect ambitiously tries to rival the Hostel films, but in reality is more likely mocking it. A particularly laughable (and completely random) gag involves cutting the skin off of a former bodybuilding Hollywood behemoth (turned California governor), and proceeding to go on a slapstick-y murderous rampage in this makeshift “disguise”. How can you not love a premise like that?

As the movie progresses, and Tommy Pistol’s characters keep zigging and zagging, it’s easy to see why he has such a cult following in both the porn and horror communities. He has a likeable disposition, and a natural sense of comedic timing. The film, while uneven, is both funny and bloody, campy and touching. The Troma-level action and pace will ultimately please this particular niche audience, while leaving others scratching their heads in both disbelief and revulsion. The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol won’t win any mainstream awards, but it can easily earn a distinction for being an underground darling.

Sean McLaughlin on Twitter
Sean McLaughlin
Staff Writer at Horror News Network
Sean McLaughlin has been writing for Horror News Network since 2012. Catch up with him on Twitter at @Makasupa and read his in-depth bio on our About Us page.
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