Tying in with the recent release of cult clasic The Deadly Spawn on Blu-ray comes the DVD release of Hell On Earth, directed by The Deadly Spawn producer Ted Bohus.
Much like the 1983 classic, this new film focuses on a group of young folks defending their home from an invasion: In The Deadly Spawn, it was toothy leeches from outer space; Hell On Earth summons demons and zombies from hell.
Horror comedies are a rare breed, and ones that are well done and entertaining rarer still. So, as soon as I heard the opening voice-over for Hell On Earth, I knew I was in for something entertaining. I could’ve easily gleaned all the information it provided from the back of the DVD case, but the mellifluous tones of the narrator set the stage like the introduction to a Nova special on PBS:
“Lucy enjoys cooking dinner. Her hobbies include reading romance novels, watching soap operas, and she would never realize that before this evening ends, she will be praying for death.”
Hell On Earth is your basic 1980s horror flick redone in the modern age. Bad effects, jokes, and gore in equal parts, and not much in the way of actual scares. It’s cheesy, ridiculous, and surprisingly entertaining – more fun than anything, really. It’s like something your friends made really well.
The acting is as broad as the side of a barn, nut the lines the actors are given don’t exactly lend themselves to nuance. Still, those involved do a good job of making Z-grade schlock into B-grade entertainment. The parents are given lines that wouldn’t have made a Lockhorns comic, but the teenagers manage to put some surprising emotion into lines that could otherwise fall flat.
While gore, blood, bad jokes, and such are in prime abundance, they’re all in good fun. The nudity’s a bit uncomfortable, with a demonic disrobing that really takes the movie to an unpleasant place. You’d think there was a humorous way to have a demon rip a girl’s clothes off, but it’s not in this film. For those that like their nudity a little less rape-y, a later scene by the pool will lighten your heart.
Good on the filmmakers for creating a film that effectively makes the viewer completely forget the fact Hell On Earth takes place in a suburban McMansion. It’s a testament to the ability of everyone involved that the film is well-lit, in a home with which most viewers are ostensibly familiar, and still has tension. A creepy 100 year-old mansion isn’t necessary to create tension.
Much like The Gate, another suburban-set bit of horror, Hell On Earth realizes that suburbia’s freaky enough.