Mini-Review: Hell Asylum (2002)

AKA Prison of the Dead 2

Starring Debra Mayer, Tanya Dempsey, Sunny Lombardo, Stacey Scowley, Olimpia Fernandez, Timothy Muskatell, Joe Estevez, Brinke Stevens, Matt Moffett, Trent Haaga

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


My first exposure to director Danny Draven was with his most recent directorial work for Full Moon: Reel Evil. That movie stands firm as one of the worst Full Moon movies in my eyes, so to start up Hell Asylum and almost immediately feel similar vibes, I knew I was in trouble. While the plots aren’t exactly the same, from what I remember of Reel Evil you could almost call it a remake of Hell Asylum. Both films feature a group of people trapped in a “real” haunted asylum to film a show/movie, expecting scares/FX but getting killed by real ghosts. Reel Evil goes into a more direct, found-footage direction to capture the proceedings, but the seeds of that are in Hell Asylum as well, with headset cams that annoyingly cut in and out to static every few seconds.

My predisposition to dislike a movie like this is not the only concern with Hell Asylum, either. It’s barely over an hour long, but something like 20 minutes of that is just unnecessary setup and filler. First we see an overlong pitch meeting — scored with ominous music — where an executive (Joe Estevez, the film’s bright spot) is sold on the idea of five hot chicks in an old mansion/asylum getting scared for the chance to win a million dollars. Then we see the girls’ audition tapes, where they explain themselves and their darkest fears. Using their fears against them was the most intriguing part of the pitch, reminding me of the Stephen King novel It, but there’s nothing engaging that actually comes of it. Next is a lengthy explanation of the rules of the game. It all adds up to extreme boredom and disinterest. Lot of repetitive, meaningless talking heads do not make for a good horror film.

Other than the presence of Joe Estevez, the only redeeming quality of Hell Asylum is its approach to gore. Full Moon’s films are generally light in this department, and Hell Asylum looks like it wants to make up for lost time. There is a distinct choice in favor of ridiculously over-the-top gore, particularly featuring lots of ripped-out intestines. I appreciated this desire to spice things up where other Full Moon films have failed, but the thing I found most enjoyable was the very small diameter of the intestines they used. We all have a basic idea of what human intestines look like, but whatever is in Hell Asylum is much smaller and stringier. Whatever they were or were supposed to be, I don’t honestly know, but wondering about this was the closest thing to engagement that Hell Asylum provided.

I put a lot of time into my writing hobby, but I don’t consider amateur writing to be hard work. Sitting through Hell Asylum, though, was a tough day at the office.

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be checking in with Ted Nicolaou’s Moonbeam film Dragonworld! See ya then!

Cryptz (2002)

Starring Choice Skinner, Rick Irvin, Dennis Waller, Lunden De’Leon, Andre McCoy, Ty Badger, Olimpia Fernandez, Archie Howard, Lemar Knight

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Super low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Cryptz isn’t exactly an original film (it’s kind of a Full Moon take on Vamp), but it is competently made and incredibly entertaining. For a film with an ultra low-budget like this, you really can’t ask for much more than that. And when this is coupled with incredibly low expectations due to my general disinterest in the films of Danny Draven, you’ve got the recipe for a B-movie sleeper hit. Cryptz works for a couple of very basic reasons which are generally taken for granted in a bigger film. One of these reasons is definitely not the story, but it does set up the film perfectly to deliver its goods.

Like so many of Full Moon’s “urban” films, Cryptz is about a group of amateur rappers hoping for their big break. The difference here is that this is merely character window dressing, so we aren’t forced to sit through any of their performances. This might not seem like much, but if you’ve seen Full Moon’s other black-focused movies you’ll know what I’m talking about. In any case, our lead is Tymez Skwair (Choice Skinner) and his mom is fed up with his rap career. She tells him to get a job… TODAY! On his way, he is sidetracked by his rapping buddies, Fuzzy Down (Rick Irvin) and Likrish (Dennis Waller), and this is further compounded when they meet Stesha (Lunden De’Leon), a buxom woman wearing a shirt advertising a bar named Cryptz.

Continue reading Cryptz (2002) →

Killjoy 2: Deliverance from Evil (2002)

Starring Charles Austin, Wayland Geremy Boyd, Bobby Marsden, Aaron Brown, Logan Alexander, Debbie Rochon, Nicole Pulliam, Choice Skinner, Olimpia Fernandez

Directed by Tammi Sutton

Expectations: Moderate. I loved the first one, but I have a bad feeling about this one.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I loved the original Killjoy, and even though I had heard some horrid things about this sequel, I held out hope. With an intro featuring a badass foot chase through an office building with low-rent funk blasting out of the soundtrack and white cops calling black perps motherfuckers, I thought I was about to find another modern blaxploitation horror gem. It was all a ruse, though, and quickly my excitement waned as the actual movie set in. Killjoy 2 concerns a group of young criminals being transported in a van to another facility… somewhere. At night, their van breaks down in the middle of nowhere and without any cell service, they venture out in search of a house with a phone they can use. That’s about half the movie so I should probably stop there.

The original Killjoy was low-budget at around the $150,000 mark, but it made the best with what it had and crafted an interesting, fun film. Killjoy 2 was made for the smaller sum of $30,000, and while it tries to make that work, the quality of the writing and the situations are just so poor that it’s nearly impossible to be entertained by this film. It only runs seventy-two minutes but it is an absolute slog to get through… well, that’s not entirely true. The first half, while bad, is infinitely more enjoyable than the last half when Killjoy is around. I know that sounds odd, but Killjoy was so scaled back and different in this that he only made me sad. Perhaps his on-screen strength is directly proportionate to the quality of the reason why someone is summoning him. In the first film there was a lifetime of pain and bullying, but in this film it’s only a desperate attempt to heal their friend’s gunshot wound. What were they thinking? Killjoy isn’t named Healjoy, he’s a fucking killer clown! The bastards in Killjoy 3 better have a damn good reason to call up Killjoy from the depths!

Continue reading Killjoy 2: Deliverance from Evil (2002) →




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