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DirectorPierre De Moro
Release Date(s)1985 (July 26, 2016)
Studio(s)Arkoff International (Shout!/Scream Factory)
Hellhole slinked its way onto screens in 1985 and was more or less forgotten, being not much more than a footnote in the careers of some its better-known stars. A product of the “women in prison” genre produced throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it features a plot about a woman (Judy Landers) who suffers from amnesia after witnessing the brutal murder of her mother. Waking up in a sanitarium, little does she realize that mother’s killer (Ray Sharkey) is an orderly there and has been ordered to kill her. Unfortunately, she’ll also have to survive being experimented on by a crazy scientist (Mary Woronov) and her assistant (Marjoe Gortner).
There’s not much good to be said about Hellhole or much that’s worth exploring. This is a sleazy, exploitative movie with very little purpose other than to fit as much T&A on screen as possible, but with just enough story to make it passable. The performances range for over-the-top to bad, and everything in between. Then there’s the plot itself, full of lesbianism, torture, and sordid women who will do anything to keep from being lobotomized. It’s a veritable grab bag of questionable characters and sliminess that only viewers looking for some nudity or fans of the genre will appreciate.
As for Scream Factory’s Blu-ray, it offers a mostly positive presentation. It was originally meant for release in 2014, but finding film elements turned out to be a tough task. Several minutes of footage was missing and, as such, this new presentation is cobbled together from a couple of different film sources. Overall, it features naturally-appearing grain levels with good detailing, as well as some nice colors and deep blacks. Brightness and contrast levels are also satisfactory. Obviously, the release print-sourced material is not as strong, containing more obvious damage, cigarette burns, lower contrast, and less fine detail, but it’s the best that could be found. For the audio, an English 2.0 DTS-HD mix created from the original mono is included. It’s a fairly flat presentation, with clear dialogue and decent sound effects and score. There are occasional dropouts, as well as some light hiss and crackle, but it’s strong enough overall. Also included on the disc are subtitles in English, as well as a new interview with Mary Woronov, and the original theatrical trailer. A DVD copy of the movie is included in the package too.
Your appreciation of Hellhole will likely depend on your tolerance for sleaze, but for a movie that’s long been out of print (on VHS), it’s nice to at least have the option of viewing it. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray presentation is good enough for what it is, which should be plenty good enough for anyone who’s interested.
- Tim Salmons