• Halloween Hell



    Released by: Cinema Epoch
    Released on: October 30, 2015
    Director: Ed Hunt
    Cast: Eric Roberts, Evan Bittencourt, Paul Stanko, Lola Klimenteva, Kriss Dozal
    Year: 2014

    The Movie:

    It’s the day of Halloween and to celebrate a main claiming to be Count Dracula (Eric Roberts) has decided to live-stream a reality competition special in the mold of Big Brother. The sinister, campy Count has rounded up six competitors and locked them in a room for 24 hours and the winner receives $100,000. How does someone win the big bucks, you ask? There’s the catch, to win you have survive the evening. You see, the famous bloodsucker has locked his competitors in a room with a devil doll, which, according to legend, houses a demon that is released every Halloween with one mission, kill as many people as possible.

    Halloween Hell is the latest film from writer-director Ed Hunt, the man behind the 1980s’ horror classic Bloody Birthday. It was somewhat surprising to learn of Hunt’s 40-plus year directing career as his work in Halloween Hell is pretty amateur. Unimaginative camera set-ups and blocking mixed with roughshod editing made the film seem like the work of a first-time director. This is not to say the film is a complete travesty. On the contrary, there are quite a few things going for Halloween Hell. There is some decent make-up effects utilized for the demon, passable performances, and even some light bits of political satire, all of which shows the film has more going for it than many of the modern straight-to-video horror films currently available.

    One of the stranger, yet most interesting aspects of the film is the appearance of Count Dracula. The performance by Roberts is pretty good. He does not really do much other than ham it up with a couple scantly clad women, but he is memorable. He provides a running commentary to the action of the reality special while as acting as a sort of underworld producer. The use of the Dracula character seems odd and ill-advised until you place the use in the context of Dracula as TV/Film producer. A longtime veteran of micro-budgeted horror may very well look at producers as bloodsuckers, draining the creative life force of the talent for their own monetary gain. This idea is given even greater relevance by the countless times Dracula mentions the streaming special costs the viewer $24. At one point, when discussing the price of his special Dracula even notes, there is more than one way to be a bloodsucker.

    Dracula as producer is not the only time political/economic satire is used. However, other times Hunt goes for some grandiose statement it is too on the nose to really work. When Hunt cuts to two viewers of the special, the duo get into a discussion about the “reality” of reality programs. For a film from 2014 this type of commentary is rather old hat. I feel even the biggest fans of reality programs are now in on the joke, there is nothing real about reality TV. The economic bailout of the banks is also referenced. After the first kill, one of the competitors demands Dracula release them before anyone else is killed. Dracula responds no one can be bailed out, to which the competitor remarks the banks were bailed out. Using horror as sociopolitical commentary has been used to great effect in the past, however in films like Dawn of the Dead where it has been done it usually was accomplished through metaphor. Hunt just outright mentioning the bailout ultimately says nothing. It seems as if he wanted to reference the event but was not sure how to make it work in the film. As is, it is just an odd statement from someone fearing his imminent death.

    Of all Halloween Hell’s problems the biggest is the script. The six competitors are ill defined. They seem to be broad character types, the loudmouth jerk, the nerd, the hot girl, the black guy, the bitchy girl, et al. This is an issue because this prevents the audience from becoming involved with the characters’ fates. It truly did not matter who lived or died because most of the characters were interchangeable with each other. The loudmouth jerk stood out the most because Paul Stanko, the actor portraying the character, was pretty decent. The characters were not the only aspect of the film underwritten. One, unnamed, character was murdered via simply watching the stream. Throughout the film we see about six different viewers and yet only one dies from viewing the stream. It is not explained why only he dies, but it felt out of place. The sequence could have been cut from the film without any issue.

    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Cinema Epoch brings Halloween Hell to video sporting a nifty a 16X9 enhanced 1.78:1 image. The picture quality is good for this sort of release. Colors are bright and the overall image is clean and free of any issues.

    The audio on the release is 2.0 Dolby stereo and surprisingly it is pretty good. I find that the audio on many straight-to-video horror releases of this budget to sport poorly mixed audio. This is not the case with Halloween Hell. While I was disappointed the disc did not sport subtitles, I found they were not needed. The dialogue was easily and clearly heard. Music and sound effects were also mixed well, noticeable but never overpowering.

    Halloween Hell’s DVD premier features a single extra, a 90 second trailer. While the film was not really good enough to warrant a stacked disc, an interview with Hunt about the economic and political satire used in the film would have been welcomed. I would not say it was a missed opportunity but it may have been interesting for the insight. The back of the case states there is a stills gallery, but I could not find one.

    The Final World:

    Halloween Hell is an odd duck of a film. It is not good, but you have to give writer-director Ed Hunt credit for trying to interject some personality and thought into his film. I am a sucker for politics in horror, so I appreciate the effort he made, but I felt some of it was rather ham-fisted.





















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