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!

Shrieker (1998)

shrieker_1Shrieker (1998)
AKA Shriek

Starring Tanya Dempsey, Jamie Gannon, Parry Shen, Alison Cuffe, Thomas R. Martin, Chris Boyd, Jenya Lano, Jason-Shane Scott, Brannon Gould, Rick Buono

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Right upfront I’d like to say that despite the ratings I’ve given to Shrieker, it is enough of an enjoyable movie to make for a fun B-Movie watch. The parts that work do so fairly well… it’s just that everything else is really annoying. And because annoying characters and lame, meaningless dialogue eats up far less of a film’s budget than creature FX, the annoying stuff makes up a lot more of the runtime, making the film feel like something of a fun chore. Bet you’re just chompin’ at the bit to watch the film yourself, huh? 🙂

Shrieker opens with perhaps its best scene, where a couple of doctors at a hospital are killed by the Shrieker. Why the hospital has hallways lit like an abandoned warehouse, I don’t know, but I do know that it made the scene far more confounding (and therefore interesting). B-Movies should never pass up an opportunity to make the film more interesting, although I’m sure this (and perhaps most “interesting” things like this in B-Movies) arise out of budgetary concerns more than anything else. Anyway, the doctors get killed and we soon find ourselves 50 or so years in the future as a group of college kids have decided that housing on campus is too expensive, and squatting in this abandoned hospital is far more attractive.

Continue reading Shrieker (1998) →

Deathbed (2002)

DEBEDDVD_Deathbed

Starring Tanya Dempsey, Brave Matthews, Joe Estevez, Meagan Mangum, Michael Sonye, Lunden De’Leon, Constance Estevez

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Deathbed begins with horrid “jazz” and murderous S&M on an old iron bed, and it doesn’t really get any better from there. No, that’s not true, it gets a little better, but when the film is structured so that “What happened with the bed in the 1920s” is the central mystery and the film opens with a flashback exposing the entire thing to the audience, it also gets a little annoying as we watch the characters search around for what we already know. Trust the audience much? Nope, didn’t think so.

Karen and Jerry are looking for a new apartment, and they’re about to get a killer deal from Joe Estevez on an abode in a renovated warehouse. This is a horror movie, so they ignore all the little warning signs. Things like a locked room that no one knows anything about what’s inside, or a vision Karen has of a woman being handcuffed to a bed. You’d think someone attuned enough to the paranormal to receive visions would be sensitive to them, and that one of violence might scare you away, but as always, your logic is no good in horror movie land.

Continue reading Deathbed (2002) →




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