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Hellhole (Blu-ray Review)

HellholeThis July, Scream Factory presents the long-lost cult favorite on Blu-ray for the first time. Hellhole  debuts in a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.  Read on to find out more information, as well as being able to pre-order both, below.  Hellhole comes years after it was announced then shelved due to a lacking source.  However, that’s been rectified and its finally seeing release.  Featuring an all-star cast of cult film stars including  Marjoe Gortner (Starcrash, The Food Of The Gods), Richard Cox (Cruising), Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young), Edy Williams (Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls), Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop) and Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS).  A very exciting release for Scream Factory and cult cinema fans!  The film features an impressive combination of sources.  This highly anticipated and sought after Blu-ray of Hellhole will be available on July 26th 2016.

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Film 

Having witnessed her mother’s brutal death, Susan gets amnesia from a fall while being pursued by the killer, Silk. Awakening in Ashland Sanitarium, she is once again terrorized by Silk, disguised as an orderly. To pry an incriminating secret from Susan’s brain, Silk forms an uneasy alliance with Dr. Fletcher, a psychotic scientist who has been testing a new lobotomy technique, using helpless inmates as her guinea pigs. These vicious experiments are carried out in the “Hellhole,” a torture den awaiting Susan as its next victim.

Now, you look at that rating and go, “eh, garbage, moving on” but WAIT!  That’s a very loving 2-star (Or dog) rating.  I didn’t know where to go with this one, but I came down the middle with the film as a regular film rating and then my enjoyment.  Hellhole is not the greatest film, but its very weird and always entertaining.  The film is definitely of the midnight movie variety.  I hadn’t heard of it til Scream Factory announced it a couple years ago and then had to pull the plug.  But, maybe more are going to check this one out with the release.

Hellhole is an odd hybrid of many different genre things going on.  Overall, I’d say the film can just generally fall into the horror bin.  But, its also kind of a 1970s Women in Prison exploitation grindhouse picture.  That sorta blends with a 90s late night Cinemax movie.  In terms of horror its a bit of a mad scientist/experiment film.  Its also the best film that Jim Wynorski never made.  Because, well, this is right up his alley…and who knows, maybe it was an inspiration.

A few years back, Scream Factory announced its release and then had to back down.  The print they received was of an edited and compromised version.  They vowed only to release what the fans would want and not to “just get it out”.  This was the first of a sort of unlisted mission statement they pronounced and have stuck to ever since.  It was a pivotal moment in their history even if the film never got released.  Awesomely, some people came out of the woodwork and helped to provide materials to piece together this weird little film.  And now, people are finally going to be able to pick up this true Scream Factory collector’s item!

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  There is a warning about using multiple sources of varying qualities for this release to restore it to the original cut of the film.  Honestly, the inserts here aren’t that drastic a quality change and is one of the better I’ve seen.  In all honesty, Hellhole looks great on Blu-ray.  There is a full look to the image with stronger colors and a good amount of detail abound in the entire thing.  People should be both surprised and very satisfied with this transfer.

Depth:  Decent work on spacing and freeness.  Movements are smooth and cinematic.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and can bring a little more gain to darker scenes.  The performance is solid and contains no crushing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look very good here in this transfer.  They are bold and not quite vivid, but pop well enough.  Blues, reds, 80s looking things all look very please here.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and stay consistent throughout the film’s runtime, even through the switch over to other sources.  People look slightly tan, or maybe that’s the actresses overdoing it.  Details are pretty clear in close-up and even in medium shots you can check out wrinkles, make-up, freckles and such.

Noise/Artifacts:  Grain and specs are abound, but welcome.  

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Hellhole features a solid 2.0 mix that sounds clean and pretty crisp given the age and multiple sources.  Here is where you can tell more obviously that a source has changed, but its not a huge leap.  Its just noticeable is all.  There is a free, loose sound to it, and the track more than does the trick.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear.  There wasn’t much difference in the inserts as the main print.

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Extras 

Hellhole comes with a DVD copy of the film.

Interview with Mary Woronov (HD, 4:54) – Surprised that this movie has been dug up and remembered, the actress discusses the fun she had with this role, one that involved stuff she’d done many times before.  She discusses how she didn’t care for the lesbian material because it wasn’t straightforward.  Woronov basically quickly goes over some behind-the-scene anecdotes.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:54) 

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Summary 

How do I tell you about Hellhole.  Its a movie that I enjoyed for being weird and such, but I know its not a good movie.  Its niche, for sure.  The movie crosses over so many female exploitation genres into its own sorta thing.  Definitely a midnight movie.  Scream Factory’s Blu-ray looks and sounds great.  There’s even an interview here for an extra.  A pickup for collectors and those who feel this may be it for this film.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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