Hellbenders (Blu-ray Review)

Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.comThere are demons so terrible that no mortal man of God could successfully drive them back to Hell. The only option is for the exorci st himself to invite possession and then commit suicide, dragging along the demon to damnation – so the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints – or Hellbenders – was formed. A group of elite, highly-trained exorcists, they live in a constant state of debauchery so they will be ready to go to Hell at any moment. When an infernal Norse demon called Black Surtr escapes into New York City intent on cracking open the gates of Hell, the Hellbenders must use every ounce of their debauchery to battle the demon and save the planet from eternal damnation! 

Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.com



Hellbenders is the story of a rag-tag group of priests who are tasked with ridding the world of demons and all sorts of hell’s minions. The catch is that this group led by Angus (a hysterical Clancy Brown) must also commit as much sin as possible, so as to be able to cast the demon out. The way it goes is that if they sin enough the demons will possess them and then they will kill themselves and drag the demons back to hell. These guys are known as: The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints. Pretty cool, huh.

Yes, it’s not a very conventional way of doing things but it works out. Angus’ right-hand man Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) is along for the ride in addition to a few other priests who all live together in a pretty crummy house under the scrutiny of the Church’s eye. After a tougher than usual encounter it is found out that a powerful demon is ascending and will be amongst them very soon to take over the world. The boys and lady must band together and fight off this satanic force before the entire world falls under its spell.

Okay, as you can see, Hellbenders isn’t a deep film about demons and possession as one would think. I guess the cover art with the female giving you the “heavy metal horns” gives it away somewhat. You’ll know the film is a trip once Clancy Brown starts talking all sorts of crap from the get-go. He had me rolling at all the crap he was talking. In fact, as much as I like Clifton Collins Jr., this is Clancy Brown’s film. He seals the deal and it is a treat to watch him so unhinged. He’s the freakin’ Kurgan for crying out loud! I have been a fan of J.T. Petty’s low budget films for quite a few years even though some have not worked out the way one would have expected. I LOVED his entry into the Mimic universe, and S&Man was ambitious but too convoluted, and I have not seen The Burrowers. J.T. has plenty of potential if he were to be given the budget to let loose. He does let loose on Hellbenders but the film is still low budget by film standards, though.

I think the chemistry between all of the actors and their characters is there and it shows. There’s a lot of drama thrown into the mix that makes for some pretty cool character development and nice subplots that figure into the film throughout. In fact, between laughing at Angus talk crap; I was reminded of Todd and the Book of Pure EvilHellbenders is rude, crude, and plenty crass just like that excellent show was. Not everything works, but it has a lot of heart and everyone does what he or she can with the material. You can tell a good time was had by all.

The subject matter does tend to get dark at times but right when it goes for the jugular of despair it pulls back just a bit with some sort of comedic twist. A scene of one of the team members comes to mind when he’s viciously beaten, one would think to death, but is later seen in a full body cast, which leads to scenes of comedic relief as the member tries to navigate in the body cast. For every dark turn the film takes there are also some scenes that lighten the mood. I wasn’t necessarily disappointed that it didn’t stick to just one formula, because then we wouldn’t have gotten such a great performance from Clancy Brown. If you can get passed this then you will enjoy Hellbenders as much as I did.

Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.com


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4 –  (3D version encoded in MVC Full Resolution L/R Eye)

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (16×9)

Clarity/Detail: Sharpness levels are consistent and as are contrast levels – I like that every outdoor daytime scene had an overcast look to it. The sun decided to take the day off in certain scenes.

Depth: The film is average in terms of “pop” – since we did not review the 3D version, I cannot comment in terms of 3D depth. I will say that the 2D version looked very average in terms of depth, which is probably why its overall grade is slightly above average and not reference.

Black Levels: Hellbenders deals with dark material at times and this carries over into certain scenes that contain shadowy darkness in them. Black levels are throng and rarely crush.

Color Reproduction: Colors are a bit on the muted side spending on the situation. Injuries and grotesqueries are faithfully reproduced, though.

Flesh Tones: As with the color wheel flesh tones are a bit on the pale side and really jump at you once someone is injured or possessed.

Noise/Artifacts: I detected a few anomalies here and there but nothing too intrusive – I’d say the final battle had the most problems but that was probably due to the cgi renderings.

Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.com


Audio Formats(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English, Spanish, English SDH

Dynamics: There are quite a number of exciting scenes that feature exorcisms and demonic possessions and they’re handled extremely well. The audio mix was very straightforward and aggressive – definitely above average.

Low Frequency Extension: There are plenty of instances where the subwoofer gets to shine in Hellbenders. Explosions, demonic voices, etc., all get that extra bit of low-end oomph that is required in a demon infused film.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround channels do their thing in reproducing creepy sounds in the back as they move all over the place enveloping the viewer.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clean and you can understand every profanity laced rant by Clancy Brown even during the action-packed demon fighting sequences.


Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.com


A couple of worthy extras are included for your viewing and listening pleasure, one of which is worthy of purchase alone. A full audio commentary with Clancy Brown, Andre Royo, and J.T. Petty as they proceed to have a blast recounting the fun and games that occurred during the making of Hellbenders. An informative interview with J.T. Petty is also included as are the full-length exorcism tapes that were shown in snippets during the main feature. A brief making-of segment and trailer round out the extras.

  • God’s Dirty Work (HD, 26:22) – A very cool and informative interview with writer-director J.T. Petty as he discusses what went into the creation of Hellbenders.
  • Fly on the Wall (HD, 7:29) – It is literally a “fly-on-the-wall” segment that features footage of the cast and crew working on the film.
  • Exorcism shorts (HD, 28:14) – The full-length exorcism shorts, which were featured in their abridged version in the feature, are shown here in their entirety.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:42) – The theatrical trailer is presented in high definition.


Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.com


 An 85-minute time waster and a valid one at that, Hellbenders brings levity to a popular formula with some wit, humor, and violence thanks to our leads. It won’t revolutionize the genre but hopefully will make it so that writer-director J.T. Petty can move out of low budget filmmaking and get himself a big budget project. He’s very talented. The Blu-ray looks good and sounds great and this package is worth it for the audio commentary track by Clancy Brown, Andre Royo, and J.T. Petty alone! As I mentioned in the review if you enjoyed Todd and the Book of Pure Evil you will get a kick out of Hellbenders. Hellbenders is blasphemous fun!




Order Hellbenders on Blu-ray!

Hellbenders - www.whysoblu.com


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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