FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Aug 30, 2010

Film Club: Hellbound

My friends, when this...

...and the name Yoram Globus appeared on my screen at the beginning of Hellbound, everything felt right in the world- right, and decidedly 1985. Now, if you're all "What's the bigs?", then let me tell you: The Cannon Group and Golan-Globus Productions were responsible for a huge chunk of genre output in the late 70s-late 80s, action flicks in particular. From Lifeforce to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, from American Ninja to American Ninja V, from Breakin' to Electric Boogaloo, from He-Man to every Chuck Norris opus, Cannon simply IS the eighties to a lot of movie nerds, myself included.

Hellbound
hit in 1994, after Menahem Golan left Golan-Globus Productions, and it's terrible, terrible, terrible...by which I mean it's the most awesome thing I'll never watch again. Well, okay- it's not truly awesome, but it's so thoroughly drenched in the essence of awesome that it's a bit hard to tell the difference. It's like the shittiest frozen pizza- you may make a note (mentally or literally) that you'll never buy that brand again...and yet, it's pizza and therefore it's still better than anything that's not pizza.

Oh...fine. Hellbound is crap on a crap stick and there's no getting around it. My love of Cannon, though, makes me a total crap denier. Or not a denier, exactly, but my view can be summed up thusly: yes, it's awful, but it's a Cannon film. So, it's awful but I don't really care. I'll never watch it again, but when I talk about it, I'll probably say things like "Oh, Hellbound was great! You should totally watch it." I'm not sure what kind of person that makes me- obviously not one who can be trusted, but there you go.

Hellbound opens with a text crawl, which lets you know that shit is about to get epic up in here. It begins with "The legend says..." and tells of Prosatanos, an emissary of Satan who's going to bring Hell to Earth and blah blah blah. What legend, exactly? It's THE legend, and that's good enough!

To reinforce the epicness, the action starts during the Crusades, with Knights Templar and King Richard the Lionheart on horseback, heading off to stop Prosatanos from...you know, doing everything the text crawl said he was going to do. They seal him up in a tomb and smash his scepter. There are monster-types in Satanic robes to be defeated, and I begin to think this movie is going to rule my world.

Fast-forward to 1951! The tomb is raided (not by Lara Croft, unfortunately) and Prosatanos is set free.

Fast-forward to Chuck Norris, A.D. and the seedy neon-lit streets of Chicago. Norris is Sergeant Shatter (YES I SAID SERGEANT SHATTER), a tough cop, and he's partnered up with Jackson, a Rick James/Whoopi Goldberg-hybrid stereotype who has GOT to be one of the most irritating characters ever put on any screen of any kind, anywhere. Ever. I hated him. I would rather watch a remake of My Dinner with Andre starring Franklin from The Texas Chain Saw Masssacre and Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3 than suffer through another second of Jackson's antics.

Anyway, here's what we get in Chicago that had me excited...and mind you, we've already seen Knights Templar. This all just reinforced my hopes that Hellbound would become master of all my children days.
  • a hooker, with a HORRENDOUSLY dubbed voice, who gets all chiropractical on herself
  • said hooker, defenestrated
  • Prosatanos, looking a bit like Phantasm's Reggie Banister, acting a lot like Silent Night, Deadly Night 2's Eric Freeman
  • A heart ripped out of a chest
  • Chuck Norris kicking the shit out of a dude wearing a snakeskin tanktop
  • Antiquities kept in fannypacks
  • A hardass police captain who surely would have been more at home raping female convicts with broomhandles in some women-in-prison exploitation flick
  • Chuck Norris in a high-waisted, shoulder-padded teal suit

I mean...I mean...SEE WHAT I MEAN? Hellbound could do no wrong, but then suddenly it started doing everything wrong. I got a return of "utter disappointment" on my investment of "high expectations" which rivaled that one Christmas where I had totally convinced myself that my parents got me a huge TV- these were the days when having your own TV was still a big effing deal, and I knew for sure that the big box under the tree was a television just for me- but then it turned out to be...I don't even know what it was. I unwrapped it and found it was not a TV, but, like, a blanket. I was crushed for five minutes! Hellbound brought back those feelings, but my state of crushed-dom continues, even several five minuteses later.

I don't know what happened. How did things go so wrong, when they were going oh-so right? Well, maybe I do know what happened: Hellbound got a bit zany. Madcap, even, as our Chicago cops trotted the globe all the way to Israel to figure out the deal with Prosatanos's scepter pieces. There was this...this...piano music and one-car car chases and street urchins and too much Jackson and not enough demons. Granted, any Jackson was too much Jackson, but the minions of Satan were so nonexistent that I had to get my Clara Peller on and bust out a "Where's the demons?" once or twice. For reals, Hellbound could have been the best movie in the history of things that could have been, but lo, the middle hour was just. So. Bad.

And then the last ten minutes happened and suddenly Chuck Norris was slo-mo punching and kicking an emissary of Satan and I thought YES. Yes, this is what I wanted all along. It's all I wanted from Hellbound- well, Chuck Norris beating up demons and maybe an explosion.

Then I got an explosion, as Prosatanos- showing his true, rubber demon face!- exploded all over a tomb in a shower of sparks and smoke. The only way it could have been better was if Jackson had exploded as well. Or instead. Or if he was never there to begin with.

Ah well. Things are rarely as good as we dream them to be, and Hellbound is no exception. By which I mean Hellbound was great! You should totally watch it.

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15 comments:

Mikey Sarago said...

I got excited when I saw the Cannon logo, too. I think it was probably the best part of the whole movie, haha.

Thomas Duke said...

The first 20 minutes or so are pretty genius, but the rest fails to deliver, as you and many others have spoken of before. By the way, there WAS a remake of My Dinner With Andre, with Andy Kaufman and Freddie Blassie (wrestling manager), called My Breakfast With Blassie. Andy, at one point, starts yelling at a woman at another table, as you might imagine (also, the movie isn't staged). Either way, rabbis should never fuck with Satan. Just be happy your not Catholic.

Stacie Ponder said...

Yeah, I've seen My Breakfast with Blassie. I loves me some Kaufman.

Sarah said...

I still feel sorry for everyone who watched this movie, including myself. I wanted an epic Chuck Norris fighting scene featuring a demon army and/or Satan! Most of the fighting scenes were shot in near darkness.

I also could never figure out why Chuck Norris would not let that Jackson dude eat something. That was the weirdest running gag ever.

Andreas said...

Whew, this sounds like a doozy of disappointment; at least it had some slo-mo demon punching! Still, I prefer my emissaries of Satan being fought by the combined forces of William Shatner and Tom Skerritt.

scarina said...

Not enough people were kicked in the crotch for this movie to be enjoyable. But Chuck Norris never took his sunglasses off when he was inside. Does that make up for the movie's shortcomings? No.

Andre said...

Well I had a GREAT time. Especially when Besi stole Jackson's wallet AGAIN! He's such a kidder.

P. K. Nail said...

I had a text file open taking notes as I watched, because I fully intended to write a Film Club post after missing the last SEVERAL, but ... I couldn't do it. I agree with every single thing you said. Great first half hour, pretty great climactic fight, TEAL SUIT FOR THE FUCKING WIN, but not nearly enough demons and way, WAY too much Jackson and his Rick James hair and OMG WHERE IS THE FOOOOD! I will never complain about being hungry again for fear of being one-tenth as annoying as this idiot.

Andrew Horn said...

I had hoped to start film-Clubbing with this, but- okay, there's no good reason other than my sheer laziness. But you encapsulated what was oh so right and oh so very, very (can Jackson be killed, please?) wrong with this. I love me some bad '80s Cannon, but this just sucks.

All I want to know is this- why did Israel even let this film there? The Israeli police are shown to be dicks, the marketplaces are filled with criminal children, and EVERY PIECE OF RELIGOUS ICONAGRAPHY shown in this movie is Christian! Seriously- the tomb where the demon is buried has a huge cross over the door (with many, many little crosses inside the large one), the "locks" on the tomb are daggers with crosses for handles, and, best of all, when the Rabbi tries to kill the demon? He does it with a cross-handled dagger. The rabbi. USES A CROSS!

Oy.

Verification word: Dipsembu- ancient demon who tempts men into alcoholism.

spazmo said...

All Hail Dipsembu for getting me through this crappy flick.

Stacie, I love it when you love a Film Club movie, but sometimes I love it even more when you're mostly at a loss for compliments.

Awful movie, great review.

Mary said...

Hi Lylas, I just stumbled across your blog - you've got a lot of great stuff posted.

I hope you'll check mine out - I have a lot of flash fiction on it that you might like. :)

Can't wait to see your next post!

gil mann said...

You guys ever read Chuck Norris's World Net Daily column? Edit out the moral/theological ambiguity* and Hellbound reflects his political worldview to a T.

*that sounds tongue-in-cheek but if you read his op-eds you'll know it's not

Banned In Queensland said...

Did I miss something? Who the hell is Lylas?

Dan said...

I haven't seen the film in so long. But when I saw it as a kid it scared the crap out of me! Must find a DVD copy one of these days...I don't care how crap it is, I want to see Chuck Norris kick-ass!

danny spoiler said...

-holly shit. his heart's gone.
-no it isn't. it's right there.

this piece of dialog alone was worth the whole journy.