Chodin Reviews: The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol

Sometimes people send me DVDs to review, and I have to call for back-up. In this case, Chodin. Just a reminder that the views laid forth here are his, not mine. I don’t know how a person can complain about “watching some greasy overweight man lick a popped zit off of a dirty toilet seat.” That sounds brilliant. -Vince

Hello Filmdrunkards, Filmdrunkettes, and homely derelicts alike, Chodin here. Now  under normal circumstances, anytime that I’m asked to sit through a campy straight-to-DVD video release, I gladly comply. The ability to outlast some of cinema’s worst is a trait that I’m actually quite proud of; I even list that s**t on my job applications. And yet, through all the conditioning and countless team showers, my stamina was still no match for my latest homework assignment: to write a review for The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol. Usually an oddly enjoyable experience, the difficulty level of my latest review was nothing short of trying to pull every damn tooth from the mouth of a crocodile, while another croc mouthed my balls. This flick is just not enjoyable.

Written, directed, and starring Aramis Sartorio, (the former porn lead from Pee-Wee’s XXX Adventure: A Porn Parody) The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol plays out like some kind of experimental goth project that your film school teacher forgot to turn off. Offensively long and lacking of any coherent structure, T.G.D.T.P. doesn’t even offer its viewers the due diligence of becoming an enjoyably bad movie, -instead it decides to walk an invented razor’s edge between campy industry satire and aspiring comedy gore porn. This isn’t the flick you play in the background of a house party and giggle when guests try to get stoned in front of it. This is the video that you turn on right before The Ring girl crawls out of a Magnavox and rips down your SAW IV posters.

From the beginning, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol is dead on arrival. The story opens with a predictable down-on-his-luck actor who just can’t catch a break in Hollywood [insert sad emoticon here]. After his wife gives him the expected “get a real job” speech, she moves to her mother’s house and takes their child along too. At this point our main character is sad and depressed –as an audience you know this because he has four beer bottles scattered on his coffee table. So what’s a depressed aspiring artist to do? That’s it! He decides to shove a penis pump on his dork and cook a hot dog in his microwave. No really. It’s at this point that the dude falls asleep and the story structure then delves into a dreamy Dickens-like A Christmas Carol-esque bastardized journey; one dream lets him experience what it’s like to be the star of a snuff film, another dream follows him as the crew member of an Arnold Schwarzenegger feature, and finally he gets to experience the life of a porn director who has to deal with a zombie outbreak during production. The film comes full circle when our hero awakens from his dreamy stupor to realize that the penis pump has ripped off his caaaaack and the hot dog in the microwave has exploded. Cinéma vérité, kids. Deep s**t. The End.

Yay, we did it, character development!

For some reason it takes Aramis Sartorio over 90-minutes to tell his story, emphasis on the telling aspect of that. There’s a whole hell of a lot more telling in this flick than showing. Yes there is blood, yes there are guts, yes there are boobs –but there’s also far too much explanation; characters telling each other how they are feeling and what they are doing, instead of just doing and showing us the action. If there was in fact a shooting script for this thing it’s got to be Old Testament length. Too much dialogue, too many characters, just too damn much going on to really ever make you give a s**t about anything. The fascinating thing is that purely because there are so many random people coming in and out of every scene, statistically the camera eventually stumbles upon a person who can actually delver their dialogue –and then that person’s scene ends and we never catch them again. It’s back to the uninteresting people, again.

Yes, even bound-and-gagged Mia Tyler gets a shot at acting in this movie.

It just feels like nobody really tried as hard as they could have or should have. There’s no heart or soul in the project –I take that back, there literally is a human heart ripped out at one point, but ultimately the effect only serves to remind the audience of how lazy the end product is. This doesn’t deserve to be called grindhouse or even exploitative, because it didn’t earn either description. When you release a DVD and the cover art is a picture of blood soaked hands holding a cheese grater, I can’t help but believe that you then have an obligation to, at least, try and live up to that visual. A young Tom Savini this is not. A Tom Savini in utero, not even; the effects just come off as bad Halloween store rip-offs of the actual mask you couldn’t afford.  For anyone who has ever gazed into the butthole of Human Centipede, been to the watering hole of A Serbian Film, or had a drink from the well of 120 Days of Sodom, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol just plays like a blatant imitation. When you’re watching some greasy overweight man lick a popped zit off of a dirty toilet seat (an actual scene that takes place) you’re not grossed out or even offended. Instead, you’re just pissed off that this DVD’s run-time is still spinning.

Nothing at all like Hostel, not even one bit. No sir.

Believe me, I can definitely hear Patton Oswalt’s “Death Bed” bit playing on loudspeakers in the back of my mind. I absolutely respect the fact that someone “created” something, even if it is a calamity; the glass is half full after all. It just feels like our creator was surrounded by nothing but yes-men during production and no one actually did him the favor of criticizing anything. Not even the blatantly offense brown face bit or the mucus-drenched masturbation scene could save this downed plane. The embarrassing part is that this review will actually nudge a single person into watching this.

See, this is the toilet seat licker! I wouldn’t lie about the toilet seat licker.

Sure, I’m being harsh, but I feel I deserve to be. My thumb hovered over the fast forward button for the entire length of the DVD and yet I still held out on hitting that button. Not even once. Out of respect that someone gave a s**t at a single moment of this thing is the reason I took down eight pages of college-ruled, handwritten notes, only to have my final scribbled message read “DO NOT WATCH THIS DVD”. Just because you are an aspiring actor/director, it does not mean that you understand how to deliver a story about an aspiring actor/director. Where the mainstream cliches fail in The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol, the even worse porno clichés bite the dust. If he’s really serious about pursuing a directing career, Aramis Sartorio will read a review like this, admit his shortcomings, and apply that momentum to his next project. If he isn’t serious, well then he’ll read this review, convince himself that the audience just wasn’t mature enough for the material, and then go dress up as Pee-Wee Herman and spin his dick around some more. Which actually doesn’t sound that bad, to be honest.

The Grusome Death of Tommy Pistol Trailer