This article was updated on Feb 28, 2020 to include screenshots of another film critic who was harassed when Deathgasm was released.
Oh, hello there, friends. Fancy meeting you here on this grey February morn. How are things?
You know, it’s never a good sign, when I wake up on a Sunday morning, out of a semi-drunken stupor and find on my phone that Jason Lei Howden is blowing up my timeline. Never good, I’m saying, because, four years ago, after engaging in a roughly 72hr long campaign of targeted harassment against myself and the entire Drunk in a Graveyard staff at the time, he has since blocked me.
It’s ironic because, I was thinking about this very incident the other day, and checked if I was still blocked, and yep, sure enough. Blocked.
I posted this above screenshot on my facebook and we all had a good laugh about it.
So, for those of you who aren’t long time Graveyard lurkers, and have no clue even in the slightest of what I’m talking about – pull up a stump and pour the tea because baby, are you in for a fucking ride.
So in 2015/2016, the horror internet was somewhat abuzz talking about Jason Lei Howden’s “Deathgasm”, which is an embarassing and utterly cringe-worthy “film” that mashes up a desire to recreate Todd and The Book of Pure Evil and wanting a mohawk but mom won’t let you get one (thank you Davey Havok). Deathgasm is the tale of a “metal” band that while making music accidentally summons some demons/Deadites and the band has to defend their small town with.. dildos. The movie was hailed as a “send up” of horror and heavy metal culture, two things which often are inextricably linked, and critics of heavy metal and horror sites seemed to lap it up. A film critic whose opinion I trust stated that Deathgasm was a good film and since I happened to find it while browsing at Wal-Mart, I picked it up and sat down on a Sunday night to watch it.
From the get go, the movie is incredibly juvenile – it’s opening credits are dicks and dildos ejaculating everywhere, which isn’t all-together a bad thing necessarily. You know we like trash around here in the Graveyard, and I certainly have no issues with low brow entertainment.
But what ate at me about Deathgasm the most, was that for a movie supposedly being “about” and “Sending up” metal culture, I felt like the movie was shockingly bereft of heavy metal references. The kids in the band are all obsessed with listening to fucking Trivium, which, no shade to Trivium, but uh, if you consider yourself a metalhead, Trivium probably isn’t the band to prop up as br00tal and so “heavy”. Trivium is quite tame, so the image of the kids in their black metal-esque corpse paint, seemed out of place.
The whole thing read just slightly wrong, like this uncanny valley of metaldom that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I liked some aspects of the film, surely enough – the band’s ill fated photo shoot and of course the now meme-ified image of the kid in black metal makeup eating ice cream with his preppy love interest.
The meme is almost more well known now than the actual film, which should show you a thing or two about the non-impact this film had.
I found myself bored with Deathgasm, despite the run time being sub 90 minutes. The endless dicks, the edgelordery, the lack of any references to metal to make it seem worth my time as a metalhead, made it exhausting and I elected to go read in bed than continue troubling myself with it. I figured, perhaps, I needed to be drinking to appreciate it. I figured a rewatch with a six pack would suit me a bit better.
At the time, I posted on Twitter, a quip, stating that after the fiftieth dick and dildo joke, that I started checking my watch. Keeping in mind, I did not tweet this to anyone, I just put it out on my personal twitter account as an opinion.
Over the next near 72hrs, myself and Scott Floronic (who operates the @DrunkGraveyard twitter) were attacked online by the film’s director Jason Lei Howden and the film’s producer Ant Timpson.
The pair had clearly been searching the term “Deathgasm” on twitter, and didn’t like that in the sea of praise, they found two voices of dissent (and I might add here, very minor dissent). I had put in my tweet, that I looked forward to checking out the film again possibly while drunk or high. Evidently, this was not acceptable to Jason Lei Howden.
He became irate with us on twitter, called us “ass cancer”, “middle class hipsters” – which.. someone help, what does this mean? Is he rich calling us poor, or is he poor calling us rich? Make it make sense.
I’ve documented good chunks of the screenshots over here and while I regret the title now, four years on, the sentiment of the article still stands.
This was one of the most bizarre interactions I’ve had on twitter to this day. Keeping in mind of course, that I had gone out and paid money for this film in a physical copy, directly supported the director and his work, and a minor criticsm caused him to totally lose his shit on me. He went so far as to mansplain penis humor to me, say I was no fun, and a hater, and that end of the day I didn’t deserve to watch his films. Which, fair enough, but I guess the Wal-Mart employee forgot to check my ID.
During his roughly 72hr long campaign with Ant Timpson, they both engaged in blocking and unblocking us on twitter (pay attention here, this is important), hurling endless abuse, and weaponizing their followers to go attack dog on us.
The problem here, is that DIAG doesn’t pull any punches, and if you wanna get nasty with me on twitter, I will happily give it back to you in spades. In 2016, I had a lot of pent up rage, so I happily trolled Howden and Timpson back, gleefully posting pictures of my Deathgasm DVD being packed up in the mail after I sold it to a buyer in a horror group.
But the abuse continued. Block. Unblock. Hurl abuse. Then he started deleting his twitter rage meltdown. I captured some of the screenshots, but not enough of them to fully document his craziness. I’ve posted the more bizarre ones in our 2016 article about it.
I did find this one just today on twitter:
I posted my article, had my laughs, and enjoyed knowing that at the time if people searched Deathgasm, they would find Howden’s name on my site and potentially see the screenshots of him harassing me. I wasn’t silent about what he did to me either. He even went so far as blocking the entire DIAG writing staff who was listed in our bio at the time – people who he had never interacted with. He continued ranting about us behind the block, decrying us as haters.
After my article went up, the film critic whose opinion I had trusted regarding Deathgasm reached out via email, and revealed that the positive reviews he had given the film, were ALLEGEDLY bought and paid for.
Now, I have no interest in exposing the film critic in question. I’m also not ignorant enough to believe that positive reviews etc aren’t a problem that goes on constantly through the world of media. It happens.
After this, it all started to make sense to me. The positive press, the hyping, the endless reviews sending up Deathgasm. They weren’t all bought and paid for, surely. But it definitely stung a bit, seeing people I know and trust in the film community sending up this dickhead who had harassed me and attempted to silence me.
Now, here’s a pro tip for you – if you create ANYTHING, someone is gonna have an opinion on it, and not always will those opinions be favorable. You should take these things in stride. It doesn’t mean you have failed as a creator or personally, it just means that whatever you created, didn’t reach that person, and this could be for a multitude of reasons. If we all liked the same things, this would be a very bizarre echo chamber to exist in.
I maintain that while I did troll Jason Lei Howden back AFTER he had engaged in targeting me with abuse and harassment, my initial tweet about Deathgasm was jokey and playful, and simply an opinion. Me saying I got exhausted after the 489th penis joke isn’t an invitation for you, Jason Lei Howden, a white male to come and explain penises to me, a young female film critic.
After the article came out, I caught wind of the fact that Jason Lei Howden had ALLEGEDLY lost his shit on a couple of other film critics, going so far as to one run off social media. They were also supposedly female. I have no receipts regarding same. I only heard this in passing and in some tweets.
Still, this made me feel less alone. The stories I was told matched up pretty close with what had happened to me, only that I am not so easily run off social media. I believe those stories to be true.
UPDATE FEB 28 2020: A film critic by the name of Glenn Dunks responded to some of my tweets about this incident and stated that Jason Lei Howden had also harassed him over Deathgasm. Screenshots enclosed.
Fast forward to now. 2020. Four years on from this. I still chuckle about Jason Lei Howden, and his stage five level meltdown at Drunk in a Graveyard, but with the upcoming release of Guns Akimbo, I have made it well known that I want nothing to do with his film and will ignore pitches regarding same. He doesn’t deserve any positive reviews for his filmmaking, allegedly paid for or otherwise.
But yesterday, awakening out of that drunken stupor, and finding Howden splashed all over twitter, I start reading.
Now, I’m going to give you a summary. I was not directly involved in what happened over the weekend so this is my understanding of same.
-Much Ado About Cinema Editor in Chief Dilara Elbir has a private DM released in which she uses the N-word.
-There is a twitter pile on, and her writing staff tender the resignations and Much Ado About Cinema is closed.
-Dilara releases a video where she continues apologizing and shows her slashed wrists bleeding. She is hospitalized and is currently recovering.
-There is backlash over the twitter dogpile.
-People talk about how Dilara is clearly mentally unwell and undeserving of said dogpile
-Jason Lei Howden inserts himself into the situation, tweeting out a list of the Much Ado Cinema writers who had resigned stating that those writers contributed to Dilara’s attempted suicide. He sicc’s his followers on them and champions himself as part of the “anti woke” brigade
-Jason Lei Howden defends the use of the N-word as it was “ironic” and “in private”
-this is where Jason Lei Howden loses it. He begins attacking both @ValerieComplex and @DarkSkyLady and accuses them of participating in the cyberbullying of Dilara that contributed to her suicide attempt. Neither of these individuals were involved in said pile on.
-Howden begins tweeting using his account and lists both writers as “responsible for attempted murder”
and then harasses them using the official GunsAkimbo twitter account after one writes a piece about how Howden is poisoning the release of GunsAkimbo.
-Howden continues harassing the two writers, despite being told numerous times they had nothing to do with it.
-there is considerable back and forth, and Jason Lei Howden declares he is quitting twitter due to being “cyberbullied” and deactivates his account:
-He then pops up on Instagram doing the same shit, doubling down on accusing the two writers of being responsible for Dilara’s attempted suicide, deleting comments, and decrying “mob rules”, while seemingly ignorant of the fact that while championing being “anti bullying” he has engaged in the same behaviour himself. The cognitive dissonance is powerful. He continues to skinwalk being a metalhead.
-his publicist seemingly enters the picture and a few hours later, Howden returns to twitter and “apologizes” while still doubling down on accusing the two critics of being behind Dilara’s attempted suicide, and then recants a tale of his own mother being allegedly driven to suicide by bullies, which, if true, is a sad story, and I can understand how having such a trauma would make someone sensitive to the perceived traumas of others.. HOWEVER, fighting against bullying, doesn’t mean you go and perpetrate it yourself.
Now. This is a non-apology if I’ve ever seen one. This is really the “I’m sorry you were offended”. And the thing is with apologies – they’re just words until those actions resulting in an apology show that the person is genuinely sorry for their behaviour, and the thing is – Jason Lei Howden isn’t sorry. He’s sorry he got caught and there’s a difference. And his behaviour of harassing film critics has gone largely unchecked for YEARS. Four years ago, he harassed us and is rumored to have harassed two others, and this is only what I know of for sure.
He has now continued this toxic pattern of behaviour and harassed Valerie and DarkSkyLady and he should be ashamed of himself. And all of you lickspittles and bootlickers defending this clown on twitter need to log off and go do some SERIOUS thinking.
I said it this year in the 20 Things That Can Fuck Off in 2020 article that the horror community has a SERIOUS problem with dealing with their problem children. From the ongoing refusal to fully cancel Victor Salva, to prominent horror hosts sharing bylines on alt right websites, the horror community is yet to hold these assholes to a standard of behaviour.
In a way I’ve felt vindicated because everyone is now seeing what I dealt with four years ago. I feel like everyone might be awakening to what I tried to say then, and no one listened.
But people are listening now. Sites have stated they will no longer support Howden, pull quotes have been pulled, and one week before release, Guns Akimbo appears to be in peril, all over this manbaby’s freak out.
Jason Lei Howden has gone unchecked for YEARS. And sweetie, I’m here to check you. And a pro tip – you might want to pull that Burzum patch off your vest if you’re trying to convince the world you aren’t a fucking racist. But I assume that like with everything else “metal” you surround yourself with, it’s just more edgy window dressing.
And to you – film twitter and horror community.. Your silence has been and continues to be deafening.
Enjoy Guns Akimbo.
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