Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

November 6, 2015

Movie Review: Halloween Hell (2015)

Ed Hardy is back after a long hiatus to give us another glimpse of gory horror in Halloween Hell. The director, most notable for the late 70s and early 80s efforts Bloody Birthday, Plague and Alien Warrior. As a fan of the time period, and Ed's films in general, I was eagerly anticipating this new venture. I remembered the gory practical effects and solid characterization on a budget that was a hallmark of an Ed Hunt film. Halloween Hell has a portion of that, which is great, but it suffers from a reliance on digital effects that are, truly, sub par and a talent pool that was drained before shooting began. Still, there are moments of really effective horror filmmaking but they are hampered by budgetary and talent constraints.

The story does not lend itself to what made Hunt such a successful director in the first place. In his past films, we were able to move from character to character in that horror film 'divide and conquer' method that has been effective for so many years. Halloween Hell is, largely, an experimental single location character development film that requires performers of an extraordinary caliber. This is where things fall apart.

In a nutshell, a reality show taking place in a single room is set up by a guy named Dracula (Eric Roberts) who watches the show from his studio on a monitor (minimizing the budget). The show itself sees six strangers in a room with a cursed devil doll on Halloween. These archetypal characters (the nerd, the slut, the cowboy, the black guy, the good girl and poor immigrant lady) try and survive as a demon comes forth and kills them intermittently throughout the film. People watching the stream online bet on who dies when. With that as a premise, and realizing that you have six people in a single location in what amounts to a stage play, the performances would need to be stellar to pull this off. Rest assured, that didn't happen.

The film suffers, largely, from actors that aren't experienced enough to pull off the dynamic interplay, quick dialogue and convey suspense ALL IN A SINGLE ROOM. That is hard. We are further hampered by reusing demon footage (and the practical demon make-up is very, very good... so that is a highlight) over and over again. For someone reason, the choices was to make the demon a Djinn, with a torso floating on a cloud of flame. Another example of CGI shenanigans that just don't work. Even a vet like Eric Roberts looks like he would rather be any place on the planet except where he was right then,

On the plus side, and this is a thing that Hunt does well, are the practical effects. For the brief moments of real gore where physical guts are spilled, flesh is rent and skin is peeled, things go very well for Halloween Hell. Again, these are often poorly 'complemented' by bad CGI.

Even with a great deal of money, this would be a difficult project. Dealing largely with beginners in the industry, I give Hunt credit for getting this as far as it is. Kudos in that regard, but let's stay out of the single location stories and please, please... stick to practical effects.


No comments:

Post a Comment