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Sunday, September 30, 2018

HOLY HELL -- DVD Review by Porfle

Writer-director-star Ryan LaPlante's stated goal in making his debut feature HOLY HELL (2015) was to "take on 60's and 70's B-Movie and Exploitation film tropes" as did such fairly recent grindhouse parodies as "Machete" and "Hobo With a Shotgun." 

But while those two movies were derived from mock trailers that were fleshed out to feature length, the opposite might've been preferable in this case since HOLY HELL would probably work better as a mock trailer than a full-length film.

That way, it wouldn't have to try so desperately hard to be funny for such an extended period of time that you can almost feel the veins bulging in its sweaty cinematic forehead. 

Things start out on a chipper note as happy priest Father Bane (LaPlante) goes about his business serving the Lord in the midst of the city's most vile denizens going about their own sinful deeds, including mugging and beating the good priest himself. His happy-face faith keeps him going, however.

This all changes when he visits the Bonner family to help with their rebellious daughter Amy (Alysa King), just before another family, the murderous MacFarlanes, burst in guns blazing, killing and defiling almost everyone in sight (including the baby) in the most horrible ways.   

This gives director LaPlante a chance to start piling on the kind of shock stuff he set out to gleefully wallow in with this film, with over-the-top characters Daddy Dokes, he/she Sissy, bad girl Trisha, and trigger-happy thug Buddy dishing out gouts of fake blood and prosthetic body parts while screaming profanities at the top of their lungs.

Naturally, the grievously wounded Father Bane renounces his faith after this incident and buys a pistol which he dubs "The Lord" and begins to worship as he hunts down not just the MacFarlanes but all sinners and blows them away with the help of surviving but now-crippled Bonner daughter Amy as his horny accomplice. 

What follows is scene after scene of the most strenuous attempts to shock us with violence, gore, and perverse sex that's supposed to be both hyper-edgy and funny.  The humor didn't work for me since most of it is composed of non-stop screaming "F bombs", tranny jokes, wacky depictions of oral and anal sex, and flashes of blasphemy, all delivered by actors with little or no comic finesse.  (Shane Patrick McClurg as "Sissy" comes the closest.)

Along with the numerous bloody killings are stabs (so to speak) at spaghetti-western parody and mock tough-guy dialogue. But rather than trying to emulate "Machete" and "Hobo With a Shotgun" with an artless imitation that barely comes close, perhaps it might've been better to create an actual deliberate mockery of such films. Being genuinely funny as well as profane and gross would've helped.  

As it is, HOLY HELL's fevered attempts to break down the bounds of decency should be shocking only to those who have never seen those other two movies or anything by John Waters, or heard people curse stridently and at length like Tourette's-stricken sailors, or seen really hardcore gore movies.

Tech Specs
Runtime: 89 minutes
Format: Full frame
Sound: Dolby Sr. Sound
Country: USA
Language: English
Captions: English
Extras: Outtakes and director's commentary, trailers

Cast & Crew
Directed by: Ryan LaPlante
Starring: Ryan LaPlante, Alysa King, Michael Rawley, Luke LaPlante, Shane Patrick McClurg, Rachel Anne Little, Reece Presley


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