BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
I am sure there are some people involved in director Pierre De Moro’s Hellhole that wish the film did not still exist. The truth is that the cinematic sleaze contained in this flick almost didn’t survive the ravages of time. Culled together from the best sources available, Scream Factory presents this b-movie with shiny new packaging as a blu-ray/DVD combo for gorehounds and ghouls to pick up.
Only the brave dare to keep reading.
Still here? Good. Hellhole, as you know, is as blatant as it is hilarious. Operating mostly as camp, this humorous update on the whole women in prison sub-genre that was once popular viewing at drive-ins is a bizarre product of its time. The film and its scarf-wearing killer are equally as awful as they are funny. And I’m not talking about the fact that the movie has a $10 budget and features every cult actor known to man at the time. It's not a good flick. Period. But it knows it.
From Judy Landers (of Dr. Alien fame) to Ray Sharkey (The Idolmaker), Hellhole has the B-movie market covered. The actors are ridiculously campy and almost perfect for the lows of the movie. Even Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Mary Woronov appears in it. She’s the psychotic scientist who has it in for all the women in the sanitarium.
Written by Aaron Butler and Lance Dickson, the movie tells the story of how a witness to a murder winds up in an insane asylum where a crazy doctor performs experiments and lobotomies on its guests. She gets off on it. Unfortunately, Susan – our heroine – has no choice but to be there. Her time in the sanitarium is a recommended part of her recovery. She has amnesia and the time spent inside and playing in their sand - yes, sand - with the other patients will, hopefully, help her recover her lost memory of the attack and bring a killer to justice. Ultimately, the movie is about getting women undressed in showers and having them perform sexual favors for each other because, as everyone knows, the end result of a lobotomy is wanting sex whenever and wherever.
Co-starring Marjoe Gortner, Richard Cox, Terry Moore, and Edy Williams, Hellhole and its gratuitous skin might be the only reason you remember it at all. I kid you not, there’s enough full-frontal nudity from these women to make even Robert Z’Dar blush. Yeah, he’s also in the picture and delivers some worthy one-liners with that chin of his. Don't feel bad. He got paid. Well, I hope he did. The whole script is a misguided send-up that is wasted by some of the talent involved who think they are in Citizen Kane or something. The moments of really bad acting are part of the fun that is to be had when the women aren’t catfighting in the nude.
Mix all of this with the general wackiness of the mid-80s and you have a memorable recipe … for disaster. This movie has long been out of print. Scream Factory has done their best to preserve the film and put it back together. There might be some obvious differences in the prints used but, honestly, if your decision to own Hellhole is based on how it looks then you probably need to kick your own ass. I first discovered this trashy gem on VHS, where certain salacious scenes had been viewed so many times that there was a wrinkle in the ribbon. Hellhole is bottom-shelf entertainment to be sure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate it for what it tried to recreate in the decade of cocaine, neon colors, and Freddy Krueger.
Don’t worry, your appreciation of Hellhole will b e our little secret.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 90 mins
Director: Pierre De Moro
Writer: Aaron Butler, Lance Dickson
Cast: Ray Sharkey, Judy Landers, Marjoe Gortner
Genre: Drama | Action
Tagline: Captives! Stripped naked and forced to submit to the ultimate experiment!
Memorable Movie Quote:
Distributor: Arkoff International
Release Date: March 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2016
Synopsis: An unlucky woman's mother is murdered by a scarf-wielding killer named Silk, leaving the woman injured, traumatised and suffering from amnesia. She's committed to a mental institution, where Silk follows her, looking for the papers he was trying to get from her mother. And Silk's only the beginning of her problems, since the asylum is run by a mad doctor, performing experiments in chemical lobotomies!
Available on Blu-ray - July 26, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-25, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to region A
The 1080p transfer from Scream Factory is easily one of the best exploitation rescues of trash cinema to date. Mined from several existing sources, the new 1080p transfer is detailed, even if it doesn’t always remain constant. The sources are properly framed and feature strong colors and details. The colors and the black levels pop like never before. There’s very little scrubbing and while there are some spots of dirt and debris, the film has ever looked this great before. A front-loaded DTS-HD Master Audio in mono provides the audio for the all the screaming that follows.
The only actress willing to talk about the film is Mary Woronov and even she seems shocked that anyone remembers the film. She goes from embarrassment to sheer joy as she talks very candidly about the film, its creation, and some of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. A trailer is also included with the interview.
- Interview with Mary Woronov (10 min)
- Theatrical Trailer